Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
King Ben Nawahi
King Bennie Nawahi (Benjamin Keakahiawa Nawahi) was an American slack-key guitar master from Hawaii, well-known throughout the country in the 1920s and 30s. He performed well into the 1970s, when a stroke left him partially paralyzed.
Nawahi learned to play in the parks of Honolulu with his brother's band, the Hawaiian Novelty Five, playing on a passenger liner that sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco. The group began touring and Nawahi left for a solo career in the early 1920s. He began recording for multiple record labels, and under multiple names (including Red Devils, Q.R.S. Boys, Slim Smith, Hawaiian Beach Combers, Georgia Jumpers, Four Hawaiian Guitars and King Nawahi & the International Cowboys), with bandmates that included future star Roy Rogers.
In 1935, Nawahi was stricken with unexplainable blindness, but he continued recording with his brother as the Nawahi Trio. He also became to the only blind person to swim from San Pedro to Catalina Island.
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