The man who sings the Ukelele version of Over the Rainbow is only the third Hawaiian to be buried in their capitol!
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was the third person in Hawaiian history to have his coffin placed in the capitol building and the flag placed at half-staff; the other two were politicians! Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is famous for singing “Over the Rainbow” and his rendition of that song and “What A Wonderful World” were featured in several television shows, commercials, and films.
His music remains very influential in Hawaiian music and his ukulele playing was incredible. Despite his overwhelming talent, Israel struggled with severe obesity his entire life caused by compulsive overeating. His weight problem caused numerous health issues including respiratory and heart complications. He stood at 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed up to 757 pounds during his life.
At the age of 38 he died of complications caused by his obesity. Upon his death, the Hawaiian flag flew at half-staff on the day of his funeral in 1997. His koa coffin was placed in the state capitol building in Honolulu. He was only the third person in Hawaiian history to receive such an honor. The other two before him were politicians, making it an extra honor. Ten thousand people attended his funeral.