OʻBrian, or "Obie" as we affectionately call him in the business, was much larger than his large frame of body. He had a heart that was larger than life, he had huge talent; he had the talent to mold people to bring out the best BIG talent. He is being called one of the pillars of the hula community; largely responsible for the resurgence of male hula in competition. OʻBrian knew exactly what he wanted to have happen, and the people that surrounded him appreciated him for his demeanor, love for things hula and music, and his love and caring for the culture.
When I first came to Oʻahu from working radio Big Island in the mid 1980ʻs, Skylark Rosetti sent me out Paradise Cove to emcee one of OʻBrianʻs events. It was a concert that featured OʻBrian, Dennis Pavao and Auntie Genoa Keawe. It was at this very first Oʻahu show that I was introduced to some of the most dynamic and talented recording artists. OʻBrian was patient with me at that time; a scared Kona boy working in Oʻahu with some of the greats of the industry. I tucked the fear away and worked on with his encouragement. Iʻm almost sure he could tell how scared I was that day.
Iʻve told him the story and reminded him several years ago and he laughed remembering; saying yes...and how much thinner we were all back then :) To me, there was the talent with music and hula, but my memory will be always seeing him watch EVERYTHING around him; smiling with that "kolohe" smile and twinkle in his eye. Last time I was emceeing an event he was at was in Japan when we were all there for the concert Nā Hiwahiwa. Lots will miss him very much...talked to Melveen Leed this morning who still had a hard time talking about OʻBrian; she said "Canʻt believe heʻs gone, I woke up this morning asking if it was a dream and I can call him up and say hello..."
So many people with precious knowledge and talent are leaving us too soon...We love you Oʻbie....