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Kimo Wilder McVay (September 16 1927–June 29 2001) was a musician turned talent manager, who successfully promoted Hawaiian entertainment acts. McVay promoted and managed acts such as teenage heart throb Robin Luke, Don Ho, John Rowles, comic Andy Bumatai, Keolo and Kapono Beamer, ventriloquist Freddie Morris, magician John Hirokawa and many others.

Kimo Wilder McVay
Birth nameKimo Wilder McVay
Also known asKimo McVay
The Baron of Waikiki
Knuckles McVay
Born(1927-09-16)September 16, 1927
Washington, DC
DiedJune 29, 2001(2001-06-29) (aged 73)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Occupation(s)Show business entrepreneur
Years active1950–2001
Associated actsDon Ho, Robin Luke, Tavana Anderson, John Rowles, Keola Beamer, Kapono Beamer, Andy Bumatai, Myrtle K. Hilo, John Hirokawa, Duke Kahanamoku, Fabulous Krush, Moku Kahana, Carole Kai, Freddie Morris



Kimo Wilder McVay was born September 16, 1927 in Washington, D.C.. His father was Navy Captain Charles Butler McVay III.[1] His mother was Hawaii heiress Kinau Wilder (1902–1992), great-granddaughter of pioneering missionary physician and politician Gerrit Parmele Judd, and granddaughter of shipping magnate Samuel Garner Wilder. One of his many cousins on his mother's side was George R. Carter (1866–1933), the Territorial Governor of Hawaii.[2]

It was possibly the clearing of his father's name that gave Kimo Wilder McVay the most personal satisfaction.[1] His father was found guilty of negligence in the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the closing days of World War II and eventually committed suicide as a result. Kimo spent his adult life on a quest to clear the record. Half a century later, the United States Congress passed action exonerating the senior McVay.[3]

He was managing Hirokawa when he died on June 29, 2001.

Robin LukeEdit

High school student Robin Luke was appearing in a 1958 Punahou School music program when McVay saw the potential [4] of this fresh-faced teenager. McVay hooked Luke up with Bob Bertram of the Hawaii-based Bertram International Studio where they recorded Susie Darlin' about Luke's kid sister. McVay went on to promote the song with local deejays and TV stations, helping to make the song a national hit.

Duke Kahanamoku and Don HoEdit

Kimo was a friend and manager to Duke Kahanamoku. The Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship[5] was developed by Kimo McVay in 1965, in part to help publicize the newly opened Duke Kahanamoku's nightclub McVay operated in the International Market Place in Waikiki. In the early 1960s, Kimo accompanied Duke Kahanamoku to see the up-and-coming Don Ho at Honey's in Kaneohe.[6] It was a magic moment that brought Don to Duke's Waikiki nightclub as a springboard to international fame for Ho and his band The Aliis. With Don on stage hoisting a mai tai glass and encouraging the crowd to "Suck 'em up, everybody!", the promotional "Suck 'em Up"-themed mai tai glasses became souvenirs among Don Ho fandom. It was McVay[7] who in 1967 talked Don Ho into recording the [8] song Tiny Bubbles, written by Leon Pober,[9] Ho's signature tune.

John RowlesEdit

McVay lined up Maori artist John Rowles as Duke's in-residence act[10] to follow Ho's tenure at the nightclub. Rowles had already made his United States debut the same year at the Flamingo Las Vegas, following Ho's booking at that venue. When Rowles was the in-residence act at Duke's, McVay placed copies of Rowles' hit single Cheryl Moana Marie into invitations for the opening of Al Lopaka as a fill in act for Rowles.[11] Under McVay's management, Rowles would become the headliner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Monarch Room.

Na Hoku Hanohano AwardEdit

The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts awarded McVay the 1999 Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award[12] for his substantial contributions to the entertainment industry in Hawaii.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b Kurzman, Dan (2001). Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Broadway. ISBN 978-0-7679-0678-4.
  2. ^ George R. Carter; Mary H. Hopkins, eds. (July 1922). A record of the descendants of Dr. Gerrit P. Judd of Hawaii, March 8, 1829, to April 16, 1922. Hawaiian Historical Society.
  3. ^ Nelson, Pete; Scott, Hunter (2003). Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-385-73091-4.
  4. ^ "Robin Luke". Robin Luke. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  5. ^ Warshaw, Matt; Finnegan, William (2005). The Encyclopedia of Surfing. Mariner Books. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-15-603251-3.
  6. ^ Harada, Wayne (29 June 2001). "Native blood and custom clash". Honolulu Advertiser.
  7. ^ Berger, John (30 June 2001). "Kimo McVay, Hawaii's Mr. Show Biz". Honolulu Star Bulletin.
  8. ^ "Pober Discography". Discogs. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Tiny Bubbles: Words & music by Leon Pober". Huapala. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  10. ^ Harada, Wayne. "From the Music Capitals of the World-Honolulu". Billboard. Billboard (25 July 1970): 58.
  11. ^ Harada, Wayne. "From the Music Capitals of the World-Honolulu". Billboard. Billboard (12 September 1970): 63.
  12. ^ "Na Hoku Hanohano Award". Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2010. Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts