August 5, 2004 by

Tau Moe


Categories: Musicians

Tau Savea Moe, a steel guitarist who played Hawaiian music all over the world, died on July 1 of natural causes. He was 95.
Born in American Samoa and raised on Oahu, Hawaii, Moe learned to play the steel guitar in 1915. As a teenager, he joined a troupe of musicians known as Madame Riviere’s Hawaiians and toured extensively in Asia. Moe met his wife, Rose, in 1927 when she joined the group as a singer. They had a son, Lani, who showed an early interest in music. By the time he was five, Lani could sing and play the ukulele. When Madame Riviere’s Hawaiians broke up in 1934, Moe, his wife and son formed a trio. A few years after their daughter Dorian was born, she joined the act as a singer and guitarist.
The Tau Moe Family spent 54 years circling the globe and recording hundreds of records. They performed for several international figures such as Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi. At a 1938 fundraiser for German orphans, the Moes even entertained Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels. They defied the Nazi regime, however, by using their passports and stage costumes to help dozens of Jewish musicians escape from Germany.
The family returned to Hawaii in the late 1970s, but released one final album, “Remembering the Songs of Our Youth” (Ho’omana’o I Na Mele O Ka Wa U’i) in 1989 with guitarist Bob Brozman. In January, the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii named Moe a “Living Treasure.”
Listen to an MP3 of “Mai Kai No Kauai”

11 Responses to Tau Moe

  1. peter

    I’m very sorry to hear about the death of Tau Moe.
    I don’t know much about him, but the music he and his family made was beautifull and touching.
    I hoped to meet him one day and hear him play.

  2. siuai

    i am sorry to hear the death of tau moe, a treasure of not only hawaiian and samoan music but the music of polynesia. i can say that i was fortunate to have met and have been to his house and talk with tau many times. we even made faalifu ulu (breadfruit and flavored coconut milk)and ate tuna and corn beef.
    he was kind enough to share with me his life as a musician in europe and of the many people he befriended like ghandi, and onasis. he even mentioned to me a picture of him and his family taken with adolph hitler in the palace.
    i have worked with and befriended him, his wife rose, son, lani, and dorian at the polynesian cultural center.
    tau moe is a true ambassador of our island music. we should be thankful for his talent and his mission here on this earch, that is spreading the alofa or aloha spirit in far away lands.
    manuia lau malaga
    your friend

  3. lanni Tau Moe

    Iam proud that there has been a man, that has learned me so much about life and music,showing me the way to respect others and showing them the way of life.
    your son Lanni Tau Moe

  4. lanni Tau Moe

    A tribute to Tau Moe from his grandchildren in Skandiavia (Denmark) We are all proud to be and be a part of the family. we love you forever

  5. Andrew Moe

    My deepest condolences to Dorian and Lanni on the passing of your Father. I was fortune enough to meet him once, and for that I am grateful. My thought are with you. love, Andrew Moe

  6. Mokihana

    “Mai Kai No Kauai” from “Remembering the Songs of Our Youth” (Ho’omana’o I Na Mele O Ka Wa U’i) is absolutely wonderful

  7. Kilisitina Alofa Tuitama Vainuku

    To my dearest Uncle Tau, What can I say about this man. He was a wonderful, kind, caring and loving person. My uncle and I had a very close relationship, every where he traveled with his family we kepted in touch thru letters and sometimes phone calls. I will miss him so much as I do all my aunts and uncles that have passed on. Uncle Tau and all his brothers and sisters were all so musical and full of talent, they all played an instrument and they all can sing. I am truly blessed in knowing this man. Uncle Tau, Lani, Dorian was my role model, I wanted so much to be like them, that I started singing at an early age, and now I am founder and owner of Tina’s Ports of Paradise Polynesian Dance production. Thank you Uncle for everything that you have taught me. For your advice and kind words. For your loving family and all my cousins in Denmark, Lanni, Lupe, Lei, I miss and love you all, My cousin Dorian, thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. Rest in peace Uncle Tau, Lani, and aunty Rose. We will all meet again someday.
    with all my love and respect,
    Your Niece Kilisitina Alofa Tuitama Vainuku

  8. George "Keoki" Lake

    I had the great privilage of knowing and jamming with Tau, (and the ‘Family’) at their home in Lai’e many years in succession. In fact, I was privilaged to have introduced Bob Brozman to his ‘hero’ and in turn, this introduction lead to another jam session which was recorded. I sent a copy of the session to Bob which I like to think inspired him to produce that great lp of the Family with Bob.
    Tau had an amazing memory of his great life. Rose’s voice never seemed to change as the years rolled on. Even suffering from ravages of alzheimer, Rose could still recall all the lyrics to long forgotten hulas. Lani cared for his Mother in her deepest hours prior to Rose passing. Lani’s untimely death came as a surprise to my wife and I as the last time we saw Lani, he appeared to be in good health and spirits. Tau was/is a HAWAIIAN LEGEND, his life was absolutely astounding. As a steel guitarist, Tau was one of the world’s greatest even though almost unknown in Hawai’i at the peak of his career. What a privilage for me to have known such a great gentleman !

  9. Kilisitina (Moe) Tuitama

    I love this man very much, I always told all my cousins, I was his favorite niece. He sent me post cards every where he went. As a young girl I cherish his kindness and his memory in my heart and soul. I will miss you uncle, rest in peace. To cousins, Lani, Dorian, Leialoha, Lupe, Lanni I love you all very much, hope we meet someday.

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