The Soundtrack For The Baby Boomer Generation

Step back to a time when singers were as bright as the stars in the heavens
and the music they sang was really swingin'. Stacks of wax to fit every occasion!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Book 'Em, Lani

Artist: Lani Kai
Song: Batik (b-side) (a-side is I'm Gonna Leave My Heart At Home)
Label: Keen P 82103 (Promotional - Not For Sale)
Number: 59191
Songwriters: Kai
Time: 2:37
Released: 1960 (?)

Lani Kai represented the image of the handsome, native Polynesian man for viewers in the early 1960's on a television show called Adventures In Paradise. Born George Clarence Dennis James Von Ruckleman Woodd III on August 15th, 1936, in Honolulu, Oahu, Kai was 24 when he signed for Adventures in Paradise, and even had a co-starring role in the Elvis Presley movie, Blue Hawaii, in 1961.
Lani was an accomplished songwriter whose most notable songs are Puka Shells and Tutukane. His performances and acts are credited for transforming the local entertainment scene in Hawaii. He continued to compose music and scriptwriting until his sudden death at a friend's home on August 24th, 1999. Kai was 63 and was survived by a brother and half-sister. At his request his ashes were scattered at Chun's Reef.
The flipside of today's record, I'm Gonna Leave My Heart At Home, sounds like any other teen idol of the late 1950's/early 1960's. As such, it's quite a rocking little tune. He conveys the material well. But, it's the b-side of this record that is being featured here today because of it's use of native Hawaiian language and instruments. Batik is a tune he wrote himself, as he was an accomplished songwriter, and it's theme revolves around a guy questioning his love about the vows they had previously made to each other. Batik is her name. It's a very nice number and if you've ever loved tropical islands or wished you could visit Hawaii, like I have, then you'll want to download and listen to Batik, by Lani Kai. Just imagine yourself lying back in a hammock, while waves spill onto the beach and warm tropical breezes gently blow the tiny umbrella around in your drink. Aloha and mahalo!

I apologise for the scant amount of information I could locate about him, but there wasn't much to be found out there. That's really a shame because he was such a talented singer, songwriter and actor, as well. To make up for it, I include as a bonus picture, this screen capture from when Lani made one of his three guest appearances on Hawaii Five-O. This one is from 1970, in a second season episode entitled Most Likely To Murder:


Carole Martinez said...

Lani Kai was married to my Aunt Betty. Lani was the coolest Uncle any kid could have! Godfather to my younger Brother Stephen, they shared the same Birthdate of August 15.Lanidid some recording with Hilo Records, in the late 70's. No Albums, but I remember a few 45's.Our favorite song he sang to us 3 brats was called "Lani Makka"-The Chorus went "Lani Makka, Eyes of Heaven, Watch over you".. I don't know if he ever recorded that, or it was an old Family song?

HaarFager said...

Hey, Carole, thanks for that very insightful information! It's nice to know that he had a great homelife and was loved by those around him.

Howard Rugg said...

Went to San Lorenzo high school with Lani, I knew him as George. We played on the football team and liked to high jump. Also went fishing and other things together.