May 20th’s Google Doodle pays tribute to the legendary Israel Kamakawiwo’ole but just who was the Hawaiian musician and how did he die?

Google is something we all use every single day and among the 5.6 billion daily searches, many of us will take a moment to examine the daily Google Doodle.

The Google Doodle is a slight tweak on the Google logo that we all know so well and are used to mark an occasion, celebrate a well-known figure’s life or achievements and maybe even say thank you to medical staff and emergency services.

Google Doodles have appeared since 1998 when the search engine honoured the 1998 edition of the Burning Man event.

Today’s (May 20th, 2020) Google Doodle celebrates the life of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole but just who was this larger than life star?


Who is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole?

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was a Hawaiian music artist and sovereignty activist who would have turned 61 years old today.

According to Spotify, Israel has seven albums worth of material but the musician was easily best known for his version of Over the Rainbow and his crossover version with Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.

The official music video for Over the Rainbow on YouTube has almost 900 million views.

How and when did he die?

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole died on June 26th, 1997.

He was just 38 years old when he passed away.

Throughout his life, Israel suffered from severe obesity and at one stage even weighed as much as 757 pounds (343 kg; 54 st 1 lb).

This caused a string of health problems for the much-loved musician and saw him hospitalised several times for respiratory, heart and other medical issues.

His death on June 26th came as a result of respiratory failure.

A reported 10,000 people attended his funeral on July 10th, 1997 and thousands more were present when his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean on July 12th.

Mountain Apple Company Inc | YouTube

His legacy

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s music has reached millions of us across the world and can often be heard in films or TV shows.

According to IMDb, Israel’s music, most prominently Over the Rainbow, has been used in 35 film and TV projects ranging from 50 First Dates and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to 2014’s Godzilla and the BBC crime drama Life on Mars.

It almost certainly won’t be long until you hear Israel’s music pop up in a film or TV show once again.

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