Known among his people as the godfather of slack key guitar and the father of modern slack key guitar playing, Gabby Pops Pahinui was a legend in Hawaii. He is the one who made this guitar and the single finger picking style of playing popular across the islands. Also, he is the reason why it is still popular. In fact, his people loved him so much that they decided to dedicate the whole slack key guitar festival to him and his name. His glory is well known all over the world thanks to this festival. They are very proud of his music as they are of their country.
Pops made his first recordings around 1940’s. Those were the state’s first recordings as well. People were amazed and appalled by what they heard. That style of guitar playing was not heard until that moment. The complex sounds and unique guitar technique made people recognize the legend from the first moment his music hit their ears. Up until that moment, locals considered the guitar as just a background instrument, meant to fill the melody of their singing. It was Gabby’s style of playing that convinced them otherwise. They learned that the guitar can be so much more.
But Gabby wasm’t only good at guitar playing. He was a singer too and a quite good one. He had such an impressive voice. His work led to the popularity of the solo guitar playing and that style is still popular today. Therefore, he is considered as the pioneer of the solo guitar playing style. Later on, Pahinui started mentoring slack key guitar players and he was the best source of inspiration to them. People were literally standing in line and waiting for the master to show them a few tricks. Many of those players are very successful guitarists today who take a participation in the slack key guitar festival to honor the man who showed them the way.
Gabby had an amazing talent. The man could handle any string instrument with ease. The most interesting fact about the Pops was that he was a self-taught artist completely. He is the best example of how lots of hard work can easily pay off. Since he came from the struggling family, he was considered a genuine and true hero of the working class. People simply loved him. That’s why the people of Hawaii are still celebrating the name of this unique guitar master, to pay honor and tribute to the contribution he made to their culture and country. The festival is actually a commemoration of this one of a kind simple but great man.