HONOLULU, Hawaii (CelebrityAccess) — Award-winning Hawaiian multi-instrumentalist and music legend Willie K, a fixture in Honolulu’s music scene for decades, died on Monday night. He was 59.
A statement on his Facebook page announced his passing:
“We are sad to announce that Willie K has passed away on Monday night (May 18th) in his home in Wailuku surrounded by his ohana.
“Initially in January 2018, he was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. He fought hard for over 2 years while still performing. In mid February of this year, he was hospitalized for pneumonia which caused complications with his lung cancer.
“He was in positive spirits and doing okay, and he was looking forward to performing again. He then suddenly turned for the worse and lost his battle.”
Born William Awihilima Kahaiali’i and raised in a musical family in Hawaii, Willie began performing at the age of 8 alongside his father, Hawaiian jazz guitarist Manu Kahaiali’i.
In 1993, he launched a decade-long collaboration with Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom with the duo recording multiple award-winning recordings, including seven Na Hoku Hanohano Awards
The duo’s 2005 reunion album Amy & Willie Live, was nominated for a Grammy in the first year that the Best Hawaiian Music Album was included as a category.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Willie K is survived by his wife, Debbie Kahaiali‘i, and children, Karshaun, Max, Lycettiana and Antoinette.
A celebration of his life will be announced at a later time, the family said.