I'm so sorry to learn that John Koko, who played upright bass for the Makaha Sons, has passed away at age 51. I didn't know him well, but had many brief conversations with him at musical events over the years. He was a concert star, but always asked about me--and listened for the answer.
As much as I loved the music John made as part of the Sons, my most vivid memory of him is not on stage.
In 2001, he was hospitalized on the same heart-surgery floor where my mother was also recovering. I would see him, doing what the doctors ordered: walking the ward holding a colorful cushion to his chest. He was the youngest person in the unit at the time. My mother told me, "What a nice young man he is, cheerful and polite." Unfortunately, Mom didn't survive her heart problems; she died within six weeks. John recovered and was his smiling self at many more concerts.
More than a decade later, his heart has given out. I hope my mother greeted him at heaven's door with her own great smile and her onolicious Portuguese bean soup.