24 Apr 2016

Pacific music master Bill Sevesi dies

8:30 am on 24 April 2016

The musician known as the Godfather of the Pacific, Bill Sevesi, has died at the age of 92.

Bill Sevesi and His Islanders

Bill Sevesi and His Islanders, 1958 (L-to-R: Trevor Edmondson, Bobby Wynyard, Malu Natapu, Richard Santos and Bill Sevesi) Photo: Courtesy of Bill Sevesi

Wilfred Jeffs QSM was better known by his stage name Bill Sevesi. A master of the steel guitar, he helped popularise Hawaiian-style music in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Born in Tonga, he became a stalwart of Auckland's music scene, leading his band The Islanders in packed dance halls in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

He was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame last year and received a Queens Service Medal for public services in 1995.

The band played a residency at the Orange Ballroom that lasted for 16 years.

Music details for Blue Smoke: Cowboys and Hawaiians available here.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs