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Thread: Who Are The Most Famous Ukuele Players of All Time? l

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Yangon, Myanmar

    Default Who Are The Most Famous Ukuele Players of All Time? l

    Not the best, mind you, but if you had to make a list of the most well-known ukulele players, alive or dead, who would you put in your top 10? Top 20? Top 50? These are the names that non-uke players think of when they learn you play uke.."Oh just like _____" I'm not including people like Don Ho, Elvis, George Harrison or Eddie Vedder, who also played ukulele, but were famous for their other works.

    I'm gonna start...

    1. George Formby
    2. Herbert Khaury (Tiny Tim)
    3. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
    4. Jake Shimabukuro
    5. Julia Nunes
    6. Aldrine Guerrero
    7. Jim Beloff
    8. Taimane Gardner
    9. Bittni Paiva
    10. Michael Lynch
    11. Genoa Keawe
    12. Daniel Ho
    13. Honoka & Azita
    14. Eddie Kamae
    15. James Hill
    16. Derick Sebastian
    17. That little Japanese prodigy... the 5 year old.
    18. Ukulele Bartt
    19. Doctor Sparkles
    20. David King

    Of course, for the second half of the list, anyone else might come up with an entirely different group... but for the top 10... Anyone I'm forgetting here?
    Blogging about a momentous life change as I switch careers and continents--> Leaving America

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010


    Except for maybe the top three of your list, you have to be already fairly interested in the ukulele to consider them famous.

    When teaching, the names of the latest contestants in the 'Got Talent', 'Idol' or 'The Voice' usually pop up when students are asked about 'famous persons identified with playing the ukulele': Grace Vanderwaal, John Lingard, Mandy Harvey, ... (and there are local versions of those shows as well, generating at least one famous ukulele playing contestant each year: Jack Dan (AU), Kato Callebaut (BE), Amy G (FR) come to mind).

    If your list only focusses on classics and artists who have proven their worth (f.e. have recorded albums), then Arthur Godfrey and Lyle Ritz are probably missing, as are Del Rey, Bliss Blood and May Singhi Breen. John King? The list is also very North-American.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.


    ...of all time?

    I would only say GF & TT.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    under the palms in tempe, az


    I would add the following to your list:

    Herb Ohta
    Roy Smeck
    Arthur Godfrey
    Led Kaapana

    There are a few others I can't think of off the top of my head, but it gets the ball rolling.
    Last edited by Peace Train; 10-23-2017 at 11:33 PM.

  5. #5


    I would add

    Bill Tapia
    Papa Lemon Nash
    Azo Bell

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Philadelphia, PA


    George Harrison may not have been famous for being a ukulele player, but his commitment to playing uke certainly puts him in that category. He was also in some band in the '60's, I think.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico


    If you are just talking about the average person walking down the street, Tiny Tim. If you are talking about people who live and breath ukulele, well that one can be debated forever. My vote would go to Jake. Even though, after several years playing the uke, there are several ukulele players who I enjoy more than Jake, it was Jake that first got my attention.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Aurora, IL US


    Look up Ukulele Ike, otherwise known at Cliff Edwards. Besides being the voice of Jimminy Cricket he was a major star in the 20s and 30s

    He sold over 70 million records. He also starred on Broadway, radio, TV and over 100 movies.

    Last edited by Cornfield; 10-24-2017 at 07:16 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012


    I figured the most famous ukulele player would have to be known to non-ukulele players, so I asked my non-ukulele playing facebook friends. Three nominated me! Two came up with Tiny Tim. Elvis, Burl Ives and George Harrison got one vote each.

    Add Nominations for Arthur Godfrey and Iz...
    Last edited by UkerDanno; 10-25-2017 at 04:53 AM.
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins | Fender Piha'eu - Worth Browns | Lanikai banjolele - Worth Browns
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Wiltshire, UK


    Here in the UK Frank Skinner is famous. He also plays a ukulele. I'm not sure that qualifies him as a famous ukulele player though!

    Personally I reckon May Singhi Breen tops the all time ukulele hall of fame.

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