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Mountain Apple Company Hawai'i

1158 Days ago


Honolulu, Hawaii, May 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Jack de Mello, the man who never stopped, is finally at rest at age 102. His lush orchestrations would change the history of Hawaiian music forever. Jack began his love affair with the music of these islands in 1947 and that love affair would profoundly affect the growth of Hawaiian music in the 20th century. Jack was born November 15, 1916 and passed away on April 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is survived by his wife Ilse de Mello, son Jon de Mello, granddaughter Kamokila de Mello and his great granddaughter Penelope de Mello.

Jack began playing the trumpet at the age of nine, schooled by Bickett Military Band School in San Francisco. This entailed he and his brother piling in to a Model T Ford for music lessons, then a rehearsal with the Columbia Park Boys Band and a ferry boat and train ride to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley before the Bay Bridge was built. (He credited Bickett as his ticket to a magical life.) 

A young musician in San Francisco, he was in the staff band at CBS and later musical director for ABC and NBC radio. The world of radio at that time had live orchestras playing music and Jack’s natural talent and instincts fit well into this challenging field. He had witnessed the evolution of the performance and recording of music in ways most alive today couldn’t imagine.  

He entered the Army as a bandmaster at Camp McQuade, Monterey, California. As his military commitment concluded, he went to Los Angeles, where he began the major transition from instrumentalist to composer, arranger and conductor. As Musical Director of the top-rated Mutual Network radio show, Beat The Villian, Jack hired the then popular Society Band led by Joe Reichman as the in-house band. Joe Reichman and Jack soon became partners as Jack rebuilt the band--- they performed in the major hotels in the U.S. ---- the Waldorf Astoria and Roosevelt Hotels in New York, Mark Hopkins and Fairmont Hotels in San Francisco. While performing at the St, Francis Hotel in San Francisco they accepted an invitation to re-open the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1947.

At the conclusion of a 3-month engagement at the Royal, Jack decided to stay in Hawai‘i where he founded Music of Polynesia, which quickly became one of Hawai‘i's most important record labels. This music remains vital today and is still available on digital music services.  His first hit, "Coconut Willie," was born as Jack became a new father in real life. Music of Polynesia then flourished when Jack met Kamokila Campbell. They recorded the "Legends Of Hawai‘i" at Capitol Records in Hollywood.  "Coconut Willie" and "The Legends of Hawai‘i" began a recording career that continued throughout his life. New challenges and a worldwide interest in Hawaiian music kept Jack traveling throughout the world. 

Jack recorded close to 160 albums of all types of music, including almost 500 Hawaiian songs.  These songs recorded in the biggest and best studios around the world gave Hawaiian music a new identity. Decca Studios in London Barclay Studios in Paris, RCA in Rome, major studios in Hollywood, New York, Chicago all became Jack’s playground and introduced the world’s music business to a category of music that they only heard in scratchy radio broadcasts from Waikiki Beach on Saturday mornings. He made Hawaiian music viable to a musical world who felt it primitive at best.  The London Philharmonic, the Tokyo Symphony, the Victor Concert Orchestra and the NHK Orchestra were among those who marveled at what was traditional Hawaiian music arranged by what was quickly becoming one of the masters of Hawaiian music. In 1961 Victor Records of Japan recognized Jack's talent and recruited him to produce 21 albums featuring the Victor Pops Orchestra over an eleven-year partnership.

Jack's talents went beyond his love for Hawaiian music. Hanna Barbera contracted Jack to compose and orchestrate music for the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Magilla Gorilla, Top Kat and Ricochet Rabbit.

Jack was recording all of this while developing the talents of Emma Veary, Nina Keali‘iwahamana, Marlene Sai – most of Hawai‘i's recognized talents in the 50's and 60's. As the Hawaiian cultural renaissance was born in the late 60's, early 70's, Jack was discovering a new generation of musical talents; The Beamers, The Brothers Cazimero, Jon & Randy, Booga Booga.  Every one of Jack's discoveries was to shape Hawaiian music in their own way. Jack demanded that his proteges be musically educated and that included his son, Jon, and he always demanded that they be passionate about what they were doing, weather it was composing, arranging, playing or singing. A great tribute to Jack is that most artists he produced continue to work in the field of music and credit Jack and the habits he instilled in them with the decades-long success story.

Jack never stopped. His professional career started conducting a live orchestra on radio and ended with him composing music on a desktop computer. An amazing arc in a career that made so many happy listening to his music. He’s woven the threads in the fabric of more than one generation of Hawaiian music lovers. 

While it’s unbearably sad that Jack is now gone, that’s the only thing that’s sad, for there is nothing sad about the life he lived.

Aloha `oe Jack de. 

Quote from Jon de Mello

“He was the dad of dads. He was always able to explain anything with wit and humor and was an encyclopedia on any subject. When it came to music, I saw him compose music on the kitchen table with no piano during a conversation over dinner. His talent was limitless.

….my incredible father, Jack de Mello.”

About Mountain Apple Company

Jon de Mello and Mountain Apple Company are involved in almost every facet of the music and entertainment industry, including publishing, producing, recording, distributing, and staging performances for scores of Island musicians and entertainers. As a record company, Mountain Apple Company produces and markets the best-selling recorded music in the history of Hawai‘i. Its music publishing division contains the most extensive Hawaiian and Polynesian music library in the world. Another division licenses music worldwide for television, motion pictures, music videos and broadcast advertising. The Company is also one of Hawai‘i’s most successful music and video distributors. In another arena of operation, The Mountain Apple Company provides talent management and consulting for many of Hawai‘i’s most successful entertainers. Innovative concert promotion, stage design and production, such as the Brothers Cazimero’s annual May Day Concerts at the Waikiki Shell amphitheater, are another facet of the Company. Mountain Apple Company produces live and recorded entertainment for conventions, incentive meetings and sales presentations.


Kristin Jackson
Mountain Apple Company

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