How Did Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Die?

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Musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole died from a combination of respiratory and cardiac conditions in 1997. The then-38-year-old had health problems that were likely compounded by his severe obesity.

The Hawaiian had already experienced several hospitalizations when he was admitted to Queen’s Medical Center for the final time in late June of 1997. He had battled weight issues for most of his life, which contributed to several health conditions, including the breathing and heart problems that ultimately took his life. Kamakawiwo’ole died in the early morning hours of June 26.

Both the musician’s voice and his talent for ukulele playing earned distinction in Hawaii and beyond. Much of his music celebrated his Hawaiian heritage, and he earned several honors for his work. He was scheduled to receive an award when he was hospitalized in 1997. This funeral, held on July 2, 1997, was attended by an estimated 10,000 people.