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Kauai Entertainer and Icon Larry Rivera Dead at 92

Kauai Entertainer and Icon Larry Rivera Dead at 92

Larry Rivera (Photo: 2911 Media)
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KAUAI (CelebrityAccess) – Legendary music icon, who worked with Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, Larry Rivera, passed away Monday (January 30). A statement from the family said that he was involved in a minor car accident and at one of the follow-up medical visits, it was uncovered that he had widespread terminal cancer. He was 92.

Also known as “Mr. Coco Palms,” Rivera was a permanent fixture of Kauai’s entertainment culture and performed at the famed Coco Palms Resort until its closure. “He was a lot of fun. He loved jokes and making people happy,” his youngest daughter Lurline Fernandez said.

In 1951, Rivera took a job as a waiter at a small lodge on Kauai, Hawaii’s eastern shore. After being drafted into the US Army and stationed in Oahu, he formed a musical group and entered a talent contest under the name “The Beach Boys,” ten years BEFORE the “Beach Boys” we think of today. The trio finished first, giving Rivera the boost he needed to chase his dream as an entertainer.

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Rivera returned to his hometown (Kauai) and his job, to find it had been sold and renamed The Coco Palms Resort. Finding the second love of his life (the first being his beautiful wife, Gloria) with his passion for music, Rivera soon became part of the nightly entertainment at The Coco Palms Resort. Writing and performing his original music, Rivera was making a name for himself on several Hawaii radio stations and quickly became a local legend. He remained at The Coco Palms Resort until its closure in 1992 due to Hurricane Iniki.

In 1953, Hollywood discovered the beauty of The Coco Palms Resort and came to the island of Kauai to film Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth and Jose Ferrer. Due to the beauty of the resort and its rising popularity as a popular Hawaiian destination, the Hollywood blockbuster, Blue Hawaii, starring the “Pelvis” himself, began production in 1961. During production, Rivera met Presley on the set, and they became fast friends. Throughout the years, Presley continued to support his friend and even joined Rivera on stage at the beloved resort.

After the closing of The Coco Palms Resort, Rivera continued to perform weddings on the same raft that Elvis’ character, “Chadwick ‘Chad’ Gates” was married on, and entertained guests that were taking tours of the beloved grounds. He has earned many awards throughout his career including a Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award and was fondly revered as Kauai’s “living legend of Hawaii music.”

Rivera is survived by his wife, Gloria, six children, seventeen grandchildren, and countless fans from around the world who took comfort in his lyrics and humble personality. During every conversation and throughout his shows, Rivera always performed his popular single “Love And Aloha,” using his music to spread kindness, hope, and the true Kauai spirit.

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