LAUPAHOEHOE, Hawaii: Beloved Hawaii Island musician Bruddah Smitty passed away after a long illness this weekend. Sherry Bracken of the Big Island News Center reports he died Saturday afternoon, surrounded by his wife and members of their ‘ohana.
Smitty was remembered during the Kamehameha Day celebration in North Kohala on Monday. A lei was draped over the statue of the king in his honor.
His real name was Claybourne Smith, but Bruddah Smitty was known all over the island for his talent in slack key guitar. His uncle was Gabby Pahinui, and his cousins were Cyril Pahinui and Bla Pahinui. He played in the Sons of Hawaii group for over twenty years.
He also helped to establish the popular Laupahoehoe Music Festival in 2006.
Smitty’s roots are deep, and his love for music was strong, as he explained in this 2008 interview.
The community recently celebrated Smitty’s 60th birthday with a fundraising event at the Kahilu Theater.
Bracken reports that Smitty’s wife Sue and the ohana are working on arrangements for a fitting memorial for one of the giants of Hawaiian music.