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13 years after death, ukulele man tops German charts

The late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele version of ‘Over The Rainbow’ finally tops the charts – 17 years after its release.

A UKULELE RECORDING of the Wizard of Oz song ‘Over the Rainbow’ has hit the top of the German music charts – a mere 17 years after it was released, and 13 years after its recorded died.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – a legendary Hawaiian musician who died in 1997 after complications relating to his gargantuan weight – recorded a version of the song for his 1993 album ‘Facing Future‘, since used in numerous advertisements as well as featuring in Hollywood movies like ‘Meet Joe Black’ and ’50 First Dates’.

Now, having been used in a TV ad in Germany, the song has finally clocked up its first international number one status – just thirteen years after his death.

“With his ukulele and gentle voice, ‘Bruddah Iz’ allows us to dream of a better world,” AFP reports the country’s biggest-selling daily, Bild, as raving.

“It is the suitable sound for a time in which the inhabitants of the global village put their arms around each other and wept tears of joy when 33 miners were brought up from the Chilean underworld,” it added.

Kamakawiwo’ole was well-known among his fellow Hawaiians for his musical ability and devotion to Hawaiian independence as well as for his girth. When he died, he became just the third Hawaiian to be laid in state at the Capitol building Honolulu – and the first who was not a state official or politician.

Sadly the 6-foot-2 Kamakawiwo’ole had struggled with his weight throughout his life – at one point he had weighed 54 stone – and left behind a wife and 14-year-old daughter when he died at 38. Thousands of people attended the scattering of his ashes in the Pacific Ocean.

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Gavan Reilly

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