Tau Moe, 95, who performed Hawaiian music for international figures such as Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Gandhi, died Thursday in Laie, Hawaii, of natural causes.
Born in American Samoa and reared in Laie, Moe learned steel guitar in the instrument’s infancy around 1915 and played with Hawaiian musical legends, including M.K. Moke. He joined the group Madame Riviere’s Hawaiians in his teens, and with his late vocalist wife, Rose, went to Manila in 1928.
They didn’t return to Hawaii to stay until 1982 -- spending 54 years circling the globe seven times, learning and performing in half a dozen languages and making hundreds of records in countries including India, Greece, Yugoslavia and Germany. Their surviving daughter and late son grew up performing with them as the family traveled throughout the world.
Although the Moes entertained Hitler and fellow Nazis Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels at a fundraiser for German orphans in 1938, they defied the regime by quietly using their passports and stage costumes to spirit dozens of Jewish musicians out of the country. The family lived in India during World War II.