Israel Kamakawiwoʻole or shortened as Bruddah Iz or IZ was a Hawaiin native singer and a song-writer. Standing at 6 ft 2 inches and weighing over 300 kilos (at one point in his life), IZ was a formidable figure in Hawaiin music and thanks to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” cover, an international music sensation as well.
IZ passed away in 1997 at the age of 38 due to health complications mainly spun from his severe obesity. By the time of his passing, IZ had release four studio albums and the most prominent out of them was the 2nd, titled ‘Facing Future’ (1993). The album has become the best-selling album by
The song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has become IZ’s best-selling single with over 4 million sales in the US and over 5 million units sold worldwide. The song also reached #12
The cover version you hear by IZ was recorded in one take at 3am in 1988 in a recording studio. IZ played his ukelele and sang the song in one take.
After the passing of IZ in 1997, The Mountain Apple Company based in Hawaii released a music video for the song. The video included footage of IZ performing the song in various locations–mostly in Hawaiin beaches to very happy-looking crowds. The video also captures some gorgeous natural scenery of Hawaii which sets a perfect backdrop to the theme of the song.
However, the most touching part of the video to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is the video footage showing the scattering of ashes of IZ into the Pacific Ocean in Makua Beach, Hawaii in 1997. Hundreds of people have gathered to commomorate the memory of IZ as his wife and daughter scattered the ashes into the opaque ocean.
Upon the release of this tribute video, the song gained worldwide attention and has gathered over 700 million views on YouTube.
The video is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul and a beautiful song.
Let us hear your thoughts about Israel Kamakawiwoʻole AKA IZ and this beautiful cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” What are your fondest memories of this gentle soul? Leave a comment below.