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View Full Version : Did you play uke in the '80s - or before?



bonesoup
09-18-2015, 01:30 PM
How was it playing uke before the latest revival? Did you know others who played? Were there events or clubs?

How was the uke community in Hawaii then?

janeray1940
09-18-2015, 01:42 PM
I first played as a small child in the 1970s in northern California, taught by my dad. When I came back to it some years ago, I had no idea there even was a "revival" or a "community" - I just knew I wanted to play one of the instruments I played as a kid, it was either that or piano and my house is too small for a piano :) It kind of came as a shock to me that ukulele was a trend!

Nickie
09-18-2015, 01:47 PM
Nope, not until 2010.

Camsuke
09-18-2015, 03:37 PM
My Dad started playing the piano and the ukulele in the 1940's and he passed on his love of music to our family. We were fortunate to grow up with music in the home and we shared many wonderful moments playing together.
Piano, uke, guitar & banjo.

VegasGeorge
09-18-2015, 05:09 PM
My wife brought my first Uke home from a Hawaii trip back in '84. I messed around with it some. It wasn't until a few years later that I got more serious about it. But, I was playing in the late 80's, early 90's. Then life issues snuck up on me, and the Uke took a back seat until I retired. I should mention that I learned to play on my own back then. I didn't know anyone who played, and I didn't have any recordings, etc. There were no Uke resources on the early internet. It was a period of time when the Ukulele was in decline, and pretty much discounted by musicians and the public as being trivial. As a consequence, I learned to play in an odd, un-ukulele kind of way. My only guidance was from what I heard guitar players doing. I did play publicly back then, as I took my Tenor with me every weekday morning to my favorite bagel shop, where I would sit and play while sipping coffee and munching bagels. I played mostly Stephen Foster tunes, and Civil War era music.

So, between having 'learned' oddly to begin with, and being away from it so long that I forgot most of what I'd learned, I pretty much had to start over from the beginning when I decided to take it up again a couple of years ago. Today, I'm fully involved with Ukulele and enjoying it immensely!

Doug W
09-18-2015, 06:20 PM
I got my first ukulele in 1961. Bill F. and I played in front of our 4th grade elementary class. I don't remember playing anywhere other than in our houses and at the school. Ed Sullivan never called.

kypfer
09-18-2015, 08:53 PM
I first played ... in the 1970s .... When I came back to it some years ago, I had no idea there even was a "revival" or a "community" - I just knew I wanted to play one of the instruments I played as a kid, ... it kind of came as a shock to me that ukulele was a trend!

My story almost exactly !! I had a wall-hanger of a banjo-uke with a wooden top "back in the day".
83513
It used to come down and get strummed a bit when there was a crowd in the room and not enough guitars to go around. I gave it away to someone who "quite liked it" ... maybe it's still on a wall, somewhere :)

k0k0peli
09-18-2015, 08:54 PM
Nope. Started on dulcimer in '64 and guitar in '65 but didn't get an 'uke until 2 years ago and a serious tenor a few months ago (check my join date here). I never considered 'ukes seriously until very recently. All that has changed now! :)

Rodney.
09-18-2015, 11:30 PM
I was playing the Dukes in the 80's, always wanted to be Bo, because he drove the most. Never heard of ukes till the late 90's.

PhilUSAFRet
09-19-2015, 03:05 AM
Got my first uke on my 10th Birthday in 1951. My dad taught me one song, then I was on my own. I pulled it out once or twice a year, played that song (Yes Sir, That's My Baby) a few times and put it back. I didn't get serious until 2005 or so, when I discovered ukes had gotten popular. Joined a local club a few years later.

jollyboy
09-19-2015, 04:31 AM
I was reading some uke history recently and it also set me wondering what the scene might have been like in the 80s. In particular I was wondering how easy or difficult it might have been to find a decent instrument and also what options would have been available - what types of strings were around, were geared tuners in use - that sort of thing.

My Lancashire-born grandmother was a fan of George Formby and being made aware of him and his music was my only real exposure to anything uke-related during my formative years. I'm curious about what sort of response I might have received if I'd walked into a music shop as a teenager in the mid-80s (in England) and announced that I was looking to buy a ukulele.

vanflynn
09-19-2015, 05:17 AM
I was lucky enough to be a military brat who's dad moves us to Pearl Harbor in 1967-1970. Music class consisted of a nice local gentleman that would get 30 kids into a room and play "King of the Road" and "The Hukilau Song" over and over and over. In retrospect he was a saint to put up with us.

I took a 40 sabbatical but was surprised how quickly it all came back. Guess the 80's didn't take them brain cells!

bonesoup
09-20-2015, 01:18 AM
I first played as a small child in the 1970s in northern California, taught by my dad. When I came back to it some years ago, I had no idea there even was a "revival" or a "community" - I just knew I wanted to play one of the instruments I played as a kid, it was either that or piano and my house is too small for a piano :) It kind of came as a shock to me that ukulele was a trend!

That's cool you went back to something you learned as a kid. And how you had your own separate revival haha.


My Dad started playing the piano and the ukulele in the 1940's and he passed on his love of music to our family. We were fortunate to grow up with music in the home and we shared many wonderful moments playing together.
Piano, uke, guitar & banjo.

Uke in the 40s! That is awesome. You're carrying on the family tradition in a great way.


I got my first ukulele in 1961. Bill F. and I played in front of our 4th grade elementary class. I don't remember playing anywhere other than in our houses and at the school. Ed Sullivan never called.

School and home for uke in the 60s, I see. I guess you played a soprano? Ed Sullivan missed out haha.


My story almost exactly !! I had a wall-hanger of a banjo-uke with a wooden top "back in the day".
83513
It used to come down and get strummed a bit when there was a crowd in the room and not enough guitars to go around. I gave it away to someone who "quite liked it" ... maybe it's still on a wall, somewhere :)

Banjolele in a guitar jam. Cool. Just hanging there waiting for its chance.


Got my first uke on my 10th Birthday in 1951. My dad taught me one song, then I was on my own. I pulled it out once or twice a year, played that song (Yes Sir, That's My Baby) a few times and put it back. I didn't get serious until 2005 or so, when I discovered ukes had gotten popular. Joined a local club a few years later.

Would this be your early Martin soprano? That's great you kept playing it through the years. And then the revival took your interest to the next level? It was the same with me, sort of. I had an old Harmony that I'd strum the same few songs on from time to time for 10 years, until uke fever.


I was reading some uke history recently and it also set me wondering what the scene might have been like in the 80s. In particular I was wondering how easy or difficult it might have been to find a decent instrument and also what options would have been available - what types of strings were around, were geared tuners in use - that sort of thing.

My Lancashire-born grandmother was a fan of George Formby and being made aware of him and his music was my only real exposure to anything uke-related during my formative years. I'm curious about what sort of response I might have received if I'd walked into a music shop as a teenager in the mid-80s (in England) and announced that I was looking to buy a ukulele.

Yes exactly! I was wondering about the same sort of things, strings, models, etc. What kind of reception would you have gotten indeed? Maybe they would have tried to sell you a synth!

bonesoup
09-20-2015, 01:25 AM
My wife brought my first Uke home from a Hawaii trip back in '84. I messed around with it some. It wasn't until a few years later that I got more serious about it. But, I was playing in the late 80's, early 90's. Then life issues snuck up on me, and the Uke took a back seat until I retired. I should mention that I learned to play on my own back then. I didn't know anyone who played, and I didn't have any recordings, etc. There were no Uke resources on the early internet. It was a period of time when the Ukulele was in decline, and pretty much discounted by musicians and the public as being trivial. As a consequence, I learned to play in an odd, un-ukulele kind of way. My only guidance was from what I heard guitar players doing. I did play publicly back then, as I took my Tenor with me every weekday morning to my favorite bagel shop, where I would sit and play while sipping coffee and munching bagels. I played mostly Stephen Foster tunes, and Civil War era music.

So, between having 'learned' oddly to begin with, and being away from it so long that I forgot most of what I'd learned, I pretty much had to start over from the beginning when I decided to take it up again a couple of years ago. Today, I'm fully involved with Ukulele and enjoying it immensely!

Now this is very interesting. First hat's off to you for creating your own live scene. How did other customers react? Well, I hope.

And cheers for being self-taught. Maybe there were Hawaiian uke books then, but you'd have to go to the stores there or mail order or something? But if you wanted to play, you just played.

Very interesting that you had a tenor too. I would've thought only sopranos were around. I mean I guess Kamaka was making all sizes through the years, but I'm kind of surprised others did too.


I was luck enough to be a military brat who's dad moves us to Pearl Harbor in 1967-1970. Music class consisted of a nice local gentleman that would get 30 kids into a room and play "King of the Road" and "The Hukilau Song" over and over and over. In retrospect he was a saint to put up with us.

I took a 40 sabbatical but was surprised how quickly it all came back. Guess the 80's didn't take them brain cells!

I suspect this is what the early uke experience would've been for our Hawaiian friends too, learning as kids in school. Would love some confirmation or more stories about this. Cheers for getting back into it later - sounds like learning to ride a bike and you didn't forget.

Littlegman
09-20-2015, 02:19 AM
I started in 1967, in kindergarten. Learning the uke was compulsory in Hawaii at the time. We all shared a batch of Kamakas, which I believe were made-in-Japan mahogany sopranos. Never played since five years ago, when I purchased a Kala at a swap meet in Kahului. It was a surprise gift for my brother-in-law, who was recovering from a stroke. Decided to get a good one for myself soon after, a really good one - a Kanile'a tenor. I later found out that I knew Joe Souza's dad, a retired HPD cop. Knew then that it was meant to be.

k0k0peli
09-20-2015, 02:57 AM
Wait! This just percolated up through my porous memory. I *do* have an ancient 'uke heritage -- banjo-'uke, anyway.

In 1968 I 'lived' in an X-flat (condemned building) in NYC's East Village, then a decidedly lousy neighborhood. My guitar was a battered Harmony Sovereign I had started with a couple of years before. I found the banjo-'uke at the ESSO/UAWMF (http://auntieimperial.tumblr.com/post/16394545808) free store on treacherous Tompkins Square -- somebody just gave it away, probably with good reason. I remember being pleased the strings did not break when I tuned up. I remember drinking Mad Dog 20-20 'wine' and puffing various stuff and abusing the banjo-'uke. Even made some money with it. My GF (later 1st wife) and I played un-music-licensed pubs in the West Village -- she sang on stage while I played in the audience. Weird laws then. The tips bought more Mad Dog. Damn, we were young and stupid!

After strange legal difficulties we hitchhiked back to our native California. We had little room for excess luggage; the banjo-'uke returned to the free store for someone else to discover. What goes around, comes around, something like that.