Early Beginnings

Norman & Mary’s Father, Johnny “Ukulele” Kaaihue, opened the Royal Hawaiian School of Music in St. Louis, Missouri & In 1958 Capital Records released the only album Johnny ever recorded “The Greatest Ukulele Player of His Time.” By the 1930’s Mary and Norman were seasoned performers. Norman also established himself as a gifted Hawaiian music songwriter when he wrote the favorite island song, “A MAILE LEI FOR YOUR HAIR” while he was in the service.

Johnny hired musicians billed as “Johnny Kaaihue & The Royal Hawaiians.” Wayne O’Connor, was the first bassist/ singer to join the group and was renamed “Cousin Kalani” before Norman left. Johnny Masters joined in Cincinnati & in 1943 Biagio Rossario Blogna a.k.a. Frank Ross joined the group at the age of 17 to replace Norman. He was referred to Johnny by Louis Prima who had seen him perform at the Metropole jazz club in Cleveland.  “Kalani” departed shortly thereafter & was replaced by Jules Pursley when the group returned to St. Louis’s Merry-Go-Round Room at the Park Plaza Hotel.

Mary Kaye, Jules Pursley & Biagio Blogna ( Frank ) left to the group to form The Mary Kaaihue Trio in 1945..