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April/May 2016

by Silke Hartung

Goodbye, Bill Sevesi

by Silke Hartung

Goodbye, Bill Sevesi

Well-loved steel guitarist Bill Sevesi died on April 23 in a rest home in Epsom aged 92.

Update: The funeral will be held on Monday, May 2 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell at 11.00am.

Born in Tonga in 1923 as Wilfred Jeffs, Bill composed more than 200 songs over the course of his career.

For 15 years ‘Bill Sevesi and the Islanders.’ were regular performers at Auckland’s Orange Ballroom but Sevesi also performed all over the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia and United States

In more recent times Sevesi was involved with starting the Ukulele revival in Auckland schools. The resulting NZ Ukulele Festival will celebrate its tenth anniversary later this year.

In 1995 Sevesi was awarded a Queens Service Medal for public services,  received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Pacific Music Awards in 2006, followed by an induction into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the 2015 Silver Scrolls.

“[My] Legs are getting weak, eyes are getting dim, but I’ve still got my mind to put me on an ocean of music,” he said on the night.

In reaction to his passing, people called him a “positive and generous spirit”, an “inspiration”, “generous, witty, shrewd” and a “true gentleman”.