Social media has been buzzing with reflection and condolences following the death of David John “DJ” Pratt, the lead guitarist for the music group Kalapana, who died Tuesday afternoon at his home. He was 66 and was found unresponsive.

He was a founding member of Kalapana and has become the fourth to die, following the earlier passing of Mackey Feary in 1999, Alvin Fejarang in 2017 and Malani Bilyeu in 2018.

Pratt, Feary, Bilyeu and Kirk Thompson were the original members of the band, formed in 1974. Kalapana  presided alongside Cecilio and Kapono in a friendly competition to emerge as prolific and grounding local boys who wrote original hit songs and performed in Waikiki clubs in the heyday of the 1970s to the ‘90s. It was the glory days of recording, concertizing, and touring shows here and elsewhere.

DJ Pratt

Reactions to Pratt’s death touched the nerves of fellow musicians.

Michael Paulo, a saxophonist who played with Kalapana in recent years. mourned the passing of his pal. “Once more I lost a part of my musical soul,” said Paulo. “I never forget always being in awe of him as a young musician, when I first joined Kalapana. His playing live on ‘Can You See Him’ was powerful and amazing; I can see him still with his long hair flowing down his face and sweat running off his brow, while ripping it up on that acoustic guitar 45 years ago. I was so privileged to be part of those performances. Rest in peace, my friend. You were one of Hawaii’s greatest guitarists.”

Glenn Medeiros, once a Hawaii act recording and performing pop ballads nationally and now the principal of Saint Louis School, recalled his admiration of a musical peer. “God has graced me with the incredible opportunity to travel to over 30 countries in my life,” Medeiros said. “During that time, I met so many talented musicians. I’ve always felt that Hawaii is the home of some of the greatest guitarists in the world. I believe we lost the greatest of them. I never had the chance to work with him closely but I’ve always admired him from afar.”

John Valentine, for decades a notable guitarist in Waikiki and still on the scene, had a iconic visual response: an emoji of a broken heart.

Kamasami Kong, a former Hawaii deejay who’s now a leading media resource in Japan, had a succinct reaction: “I feel numb.”

Beyond his recording and performing career, Pratt was a popular recording and sound engineer for TV projects and an audio sound engineer for live and video sessions where his craft would be mostly heard and seen through the lens of other artists.

Pratt also was an honoree when Kalapana was tapped as a Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award winner, presented by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts.

In recent years, Kalapana members featured Gaylord Holomalia, Kenji Sano, Maurice Bega, Randy Aloya and Michael Paulo.

Further details of his survivors or information of funeral plans have not been made public. …

The ill crowd\

Rene Paulo

Time for sending prayers and get-well wishes to:

  • Rene Paulo, the renowned poet of the piano who used to regularly perform with his singing wife Akemi Paulo.  He has been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a Facebook posting by son Michael Paulo.  Rene and Akemi relocated to California several months ago; a visit for a medical treatment apparently is how he caught the virus. Update: According to Michael, his dad is set to be released from the hospital Thursday (Sept. 9).
  • Joe “Pekelo” Recca, the former singer and show emcee for Tihati Productions spectacles in Waikiki. His longtime battle with throat cancer has worsened; he is  hospitalized now.
  • David “Kawika” Talisman, a private investigator with a history of music, composing and script-writing for TV shows. He also has been in the hospital to tend to issues with his prostate cancer.

On the road again

Local girl Tricia Marciel is prepping to spend the next few months at sea, joining an inaugural cast of performers aboard the Enchanted Princess, staging shows for the cruise’s maiden launching soon in the Caribbean. “After nearly two years of ups and down,” she said on Facebook about the pandemic and her new venture, “it’s going to be somewhat amazing to do what I love, feel purposeful and in my very small manini way, help a company and an industry that’s been very good to my recovery.” …

And in New York, Matt Yee brings his outrageous adult revue to the Triad Theatre, at 10 p.m. Friday (Sept. 10). If you’re in the vicinity, proof of vaccination is a requisite. Yee is known for his shows aboard the Atlantis and Royal Caribbean cruises in the recent past. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


  1. So sad to hear of the passing of DJ Pratt from one of Hawaii’s great groups. It seem like the group has had so much bad luck with so many members passing. Since I first came to Hawaii in 1967 I have lost so many friends in the entertainment business. Kalapana brought pleasure to so many locals and visitors through the years. Thanks Wayne for the nice write up about DJ.

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