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John King

John King adored Hawaii, though he lived there for only a few years as a boy. The “Hawaiian room” in his Florida home was stuffed with hundreds upon hundreds of hula dolls, leis and other artifacts. He once owned 400 Hawaiian shirts, more than enough to wear a different one every day of the year ” which he was proud to do. Is it a surprise that Mr. King played the ukulele?

And boy, did he play that ukulele. His huge hands and stocky wrists darted and danced up, down and across the tiny instrument’s strings in a way that few, if any, players have ever attempted.

King resurrected a guitar technique from the time of Bach to play a piece that was almost certainly never before tried on a ukulele, Bach’s Partita No. 3, and went on to play other difficult classical works with dazzling mastery. He opened pathways of sound unimaginable to those whose memories of the ukulele involve Arthur Godfrey, Elvis Presley and, of course, Tiny Tim.

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