Arthur Lyman Biography

1932, Kauai, Hawaii, d. 24 February 2002, Ewa, Hawaii. Lyman popularized a jazzy style of Hawaiian music during the 50s, and gathered a following as a purveyor of so-called exotic music. As a child, Lyman moved to the large Hawaiian city of Honolulu, where he became interested in the music of Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton. He learned to play along with their records on a toy marimba. At the age of 14, he joined a jazz group and by his early 20s was performing with ‘mood music’ king Martin Denny. Lyman was signed to the HiFi record label in 1957 and released his debut, Taboo, the following year. It ultimately reached number 6 in the USA and remained on the chart for over a year. Lyman led a quartet, with himself on four-mallet vibes, guitar and percussion, John Kramer (bass, ukulele, guitar, flute, clarinet, percussion), Allen Soares (piano, celeste, guitar, glockenspiel, chimes, clavinet, percussion) and Harold Chang (percussion). Because of its superior production - all of their music was recorded at the Henry J. Kaiser Aluminum Dome in Hawaii - and the unusual orchestral sounds created by the group, the record was particularly popular among consumers purchasing the then-new stereo equipment. In 1961, Lyman’s single ‘Yellow Bird’ reached number 4 in the USA, one of the most uncharacteristic hits of the era. The album of the same name reached number 10.

Lyman’s last charting album in 1963 was I Wish You Love, but his music enjoyed a new burst of popularity in the 90s with the easy listening revival. He died from throat cancer in February 2002.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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