Malani Bilyeu — founding member of Kalapana and a Hoku Award-winning solo artist — has died, friends and family reported Thursday. He was 69 and had a home on Kauai.
State legislator Donna Mercado Kim posted a statement about Bilyeu’s death on Facebook on Thursday evening. “My cousin Kalani Bilyeu from Kalapana just passed away on Kauai. I am at a loss,” she said.
Born Carl James Malani Bilyeu in Honolulu and raised in Kalihi Valley, Bilyeu was a 26-year-old Vietnam vet when he founded Kalapana with Mackey Feary, D.J. Pratt and Kirk Thompson in 1974.
Kalapana became second only to Cecilio & Kapono as the biggest contemporary local group of the 1970s, playing sold-out concerts at the Waikiki Shell and partnering with C&K in 1976 to co-headline the biggest Aloha Stadium concert of the decade with local entertainers as the headliners.
From the beginning, Bilyeu was one of Kalapana’s resident songwriters. His contributions included “Naturally,” “You Make It Hard,” “Dorothy Louise,” “(For You) I’d Chase a Rainbow,” “Girl” and “Many Classic Moments.”