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Bill Tapia
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    (January 1, 1908-December 2, 2011)
    Born in Honolulu, Hawaii
    Nicknames were Uncle Bill, Tappy and the Duke of Uke
    Ukulele player and jazz guitarist (also played bass, steel guitar and banjo)
    Inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 2004
    Recognized in 2011 as the oldest performing musician ever to take the stage
    Died in his sleep in Westminster, California at age 103
    He quit school at age 12.
    He stated he played in 'gambling joints, bootleg joints, and prostitute joints.'
    He smoked 1½ packs of cigarettes a day until age 87.
    While jamming with Louis Armstrong he tried marijuana once, stating, 'One of the guys gave me a joint, but it made me sick, and I never took it no more.'
    He released his first CD 'Tropical Swing' in 2004 at the tender age of 96 (better late than never).
    He bought his first ukulele from Honolulu neighbor Manuel Nunes, the father of ukulele makers, at age 7.
    At age 10 he was entertaining troops stationed in Hawaii during World War I with his ukulele playing.
    He gave private ukulele lessons to Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, Buster Crabbe and Arthur Godfrey, who popularized the instrument on the mainland.
    Besides Armstrong, he has been a back-up musician for Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Fats Waller and Elvis Presley.
    His wife of over 60 years and his daughter both died within months of each other in 2001.
    He was slowed but not stopped from performing by a broken hip in 2010.
    On June 7, 2011, he released 'Bill Tapia Live at the Warner Grand Theatre - The 100th Birthday Concert.'
    He stated of his longevity and the music business, 'I've got to keep going until Gabriel blows his horn. Maybe he wants me to play in his band in Heaven.'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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