Yemun Chung, a talent manager and entrepreneur extraordinaire, died Monday (Sept. 11) in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.
A San Francisco-born talent manager and recording and show producer, Chung was a self-styled promoter who became best known locally as the manager of The Fabulous Krush (later, The Krush), who won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1981 and in 1985.
Chung, celebrating his 78th birthday — his last — with a cake.
Chung died of an apparent heart attack, after complaining of chest pains, at the VA Hospital Emergency Room, according to his wife, Gloria.
Yemun was 78, celebrating in June with a birthday cake.
“Days prior to the heart attack, he was in great spirits, looking forward to seeing Carrie Underwood at the end of this month,” said Gloria.
“Yemun’s kidneys were functioning at 6 per cent last January 2022 and that’s when he started dialysis knowing that if he did not, his time would be limited,” she said. “He was grateful every day that he was able to live more than a year and a half on borrowed time. He was very positive and knew the Lord could take him anytime and was ready.”
Chung had been having shortness of breath issues and was scheduled to visit a doctor Sept. 22 for a cardiac catheterization and to check for blockages in his heart, said Gloria.”Sadly we never had the chance to perhaps save him.,” she said.
Chung and his wife were former Honolulans who migrated to Las Vegas 13 ½ years ago, to help raise her grandchildren.
Thus, he had to abandon a legacy of celebrity management, recording production, and show production, in an era when managers often had p.r. appeal.
Chung was a reporter and producer in the 1970s at KGO Radio in San Francisco, but ventured to make his mark in Hawaii, rubbing shoulders and elbows with some of Hawaii’s celebrity managers and recording icons beginning in the 1980s and eventually evolved into one of the most active talent-touting managers himself through the early 2000s.
He held numerous jobs in the emerging entertainment frontier in Waikiki, serving as director of marketing and promotion for the Jim Nabors show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome and, befriended Kimo McVay, whosd prime celebrity client then, included Don Ho who was the main attraction at the Duke Kahanamoku’s nightclub, at the International Market Place.
But it was his managerment of The Krush act, who performed in the 1980s at the Garden Bar of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, that got him noticed. Chung produced the group’s albums that notably won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1981 and in 1985.
The Fabulous Krush copped the Most Promising Artist trophy in 1981 and its “Fabulous Krush” debut was Album of the Year. In ’85, The Krush won the Hoku Contemporary Album prize for its “More and More” disc.
The wins heightened the act’s visibility and popularity, and The Krush became one of the rotating headliners, sharing time slots with the Society of Seven and The Ali‘is, at the Main Showroom of the Outrigger Waikiki resort.
With hits such as “Waialua Sky,” The Krush became nightclub favorites as well as hitmakers on the Hawaii charts, and Chung was the mover-and-shaker behind the raves.
Tom Moffatt, left, one of Chung’s mentors.
In the 1990s, Chung joined the talent team that included George Chun at Tom Moffatt’s Paradise Records and he consequently worked with a host of local performers.
Among the other entrepreneurs Chung collaborated with was Jack Cione, who staged a couple of Waikiki nightclub attractions, and co-promoted a music club in Aiea as well.
Gloria and Yemun Chung, in white garb, with the Local Divas, from left, Nohelani Cypriano, Carole Kai, Melveen Leed and Loyal Garner.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he worked on promotion for the Local Divas, the femme foursome comprising Carole Kai, Melveen Leed, Loyal Garner and Nohelani Cypriano, popular on the concert stage.
Clearly, Chung was a major player in the Waikiki mainstream, where he made his mark rendering managing chores, music-producing skills, and — something he loved — doing hands-on publicity, whether it was writing p.r. releases or posting concert posters around town.
Chung and his wife were residing in Northwest Las Vegas; survivors also include stepchildren Yvette Brink, Beau Brinik, Darrell Kadooka (spouse Jair) and grandchildren Krissy, Ashlee and Atticus. Services are pending.
And that’s Show Biz. …
All photos courtesy Gloria Chung