A couple of months ago, Stevie Nicks visited Maui and stopped in Lahaina to present Bob Longhi with a photo taken in the late 1970s, the day George Harrison began composing the song "Soft-Hearted Hana."
There's Bob smiling in the left corner and George looking up playing his guitar while Stevie (in pigtails) is immersed in writing.
I was about to talk with Bob about that meeting and run the photo, but then he left us.
Stevie Nicks (in pigtails) and George Harrison compose lyrics for a parody of “Here Comes the Sun,” while Bob Longhi looks on. Nicks presented the photo to Longhi during a visit to Maui a couple months ago.
MARY DeVITTO photo
The Manhattans will be part of the Maui Summer Soul Concert Sunday with The Shirelles. Their hit songs include: “I Wanna Be (Your Everything),” “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” “Am I Losing You” and the Grammy Award winning “Shining Star.”
Photo courtesy MACC
It's hard to imagine Maui without his colorful presence. His Front Street restaurant has long been a magnet for lovers of good food and music. He loved jazz and attracted our best to jam first downstairs and then in the expanded upstairs. And he was especially proud that you could dance to music on a koa dance floor.
Bob was a great raconteur, never holding back on an expletive-emphasized opinion. Who but Bob would subtitle a cookbook, "from Maui's Most Opinionated Restaurateur?" And, who but Bob would select staff shirts with w.t.f. on the sleeves?
Bob counted the famous Beatle as a friend and guided his first hike in Hana's pastoral wonderland. Inspired by the journey, George later composed "Soft-Hearted Hana" - described by a reviewer as, "a strange, stream-of-consciousness Hawaiian hallucination" - and dedicated it on his 1979 "George Harrison" album to Longhi.
"George and Longhi were really good friends, they were close," says Stevie Nicks calling from a tour stop in Florida. "Had it not been for Longhi, we would not have gotten to make that trip to Hana and hang out with George Harrison for two days."
The photo of the trio hanging in Hana has special significance for Fleetwood Mac's legendary singer.
"The photo was taken by my best friend, Mary (DeVitto)," Stevie explains. "She had given me a copy of it a long time ago, and I had it made into an 8 x 10 and put in a little frame. When I go on the road it goes right on my makeup mirror, so before I go on stage, whether it's with Fleetwood Mac or me in my solo career, the three of us are looking back at me and that has been my inspiration every single night. There's lots of nights where you kind of go, I wish I didn't have to go on stage tonight, I'm tired, I don't feel like doing it, and I look at George Harrison and look at Longhi and look at me and I go, well, you just have to, because it's important, it's important to make people happy, so get out of your chair, put on your boots and go out there and do your thing."
The two musicians were having fun coming up with lyrics together in Hana. "We were writing a sort of parody of 'Here Comes the Sun,' but we were writing 'Here Comes the Moon'," she continues. "Longhi was saying, 'you guys are writing about the moon instead of the sun,' and I said, that's because by then we were all such night birds.
"I had met George before that at a record party in Mexico in Acapulco for 'Rumours.' Longhi saw George all the time. He drove me and my friend Sara and Mary to George's house in Hana. And we just hung out and wrote and sang and talked. I had been famous for not even quite three years and we were talking with George about being famous and what it meant and what you had to give up."
Flash forward 30 or so years. During Stevie's trip to Maui in late May, she gave Bob a copy of the historic photo. The news of his death stunned her.
"It's so strange, in the last six months I lost my mom and my godson OD'd and I kind of went underground after that. Then I went to Hawaii and went to see Longhi and spent several hours at his house with four of my best girlfriends.
"He was feeling great and he looked great and was excited about life. He was happy and glowing. We had such a great time. I had made an album in 2010 ("In Your Dreams") that we filmed over a year at my house. It's a documentary and I wanted to show him it, but I ended up having to go back to Los Angeles. I'm so sorry I didn't get to show him the documentary because he would've loved it so much, because it was an album made like the albums we made in the old days with a big house and 20 people there every day and dinners every night, like in the true form of Led Zeppelin. I'm really grateful I had those couple of hours with him."
Since Longhi's opened in the late 1970s, over the years Stevie performed there, "a bunch of times," she notes. "Mick probably played a gazillion times and if I was there I went, too. Mick has always loved Maui, that's why the rest of us went to Maui. Because Mick was always there, whenever there was a vacation all of us followed suit. And the first thing I do when I get to Maui is go to Longhi's."
Currently on a "Heart and Soul" tour with Rod Stewart, Stevie confirms that Fleetwood Mac will head out on tour next year. "At the beginning of next year it looks as if Fleetwood Mac will go into rehearsals, then we will probably be on the road by early spring," she says. "It's always about every three years, which is great because we don't overkill people. I think that's really smart of us. When we tour we like it to be an event."
Cherishing the memories of her time spent on Maui Stevie concludes: "We were laughing when we got together this time and reminisced about our trip to Hana with George Harrison. We were really young then. We were rocking and beautiful and crazy. And that was all going down on Maui. And Longhi's was like a sanctuary for all of us. I hope so much his kids will keep it alive and jumping because I can't imagine Lahaina without Longhi's. I think his spirit will always be there. He loved it so much. It's a diamond amongst all the other jewels."
The first and one of the most successful girl groups of the late 1950s and early 60s, The Shirelles still find audiences loving their music.
"We have a great age range with a lot of young kids," says co-founder Beverly Lee. "The parents are passing the music down to their children. It's beautiful knowing that children are interested in our music, in good music. You can dance to it and the melodies stay with you and they have a lot of meaning."
Best known for hits like, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Baby It's You," "Soldier Boy" and "Dedicated to the One I Love," the Shirelles have been performing since 1957.
Shirley Alston Reeves, Addie "Micki" Harris, Doris Kenner Jackson and Beverly Lee were school friends in Passaic, New Jersey.
"We just started singing for fun and doing little functions and parties," Lee recalls.
"When we got to Passaic High we were fooling around in the gym one day and the gym teacher said we should do the (talent) show that was coming up. We had a classmate, Mary Jane Greenberg, whose mother owned a record company, and we sang the song we wrote, 'I Met Him on a Sunday.' The kids fell in love with it and Mary Jane said, 'you've got to let my mother hear the song.' We finally said okay, and she loved it and offered us a contract."
The resulting single, regarded as the first of the girl group songs, made the Top 50.
The classic "Dedicated to the One I Love" followed in 1959, and re-released in 1961, The Shirelles cracked the Top 10.
During the early 1960s, they charted around a dozen Top 40 singles, including their biggest hits "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (the first No. 1 for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin), "Baby It's You," and "Soldier Boy."
Such was their success they were lauded as Best Female Vocal Group in Billboard for five consecutive years and were named the Top Female Group in the Playboy Music Poll for seven years.
But these weren't easy times for African-American musicians who ventured beyond the safety of North-Eastern states. In the South, white and black audiences either had to attend separate shows, or were allowed to attend the same show as long as each race stayed on either side of a police-guarded rope that divided concert venues.
"It was segregated when we went," Lee explains. "We called ourselves the guinea pigs as we were the first black group to go down and play the colleges in the South. Once they accepted us other groups went down there.
In 1963, then they played the historic "Salute to Freedom" concert in 1963, the first integrated show in Alabama (with Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis and Tony Bennett). Taxi drivers refused to transport the artists, hotels refused lodgings and restaurants refused service.
"A plane was chartered to take the artists down and we found out the Ku Klux Klan had marched just before we got there, protesting the show," she reports. "The National Guard had to guard the plane and the hotel. We could not go outside the hotel."
The four women found success on both sides of the Atlantic and were surprised to discover the Beatles were major fans.
The Beatles included two songs by The Shirelles on their "Please Please Me" debut album, "Boys" and "Baby It's You." During the early days of Beatlemania, John Lennon cited The Shirelles as his favorite girl group.
"We were over in England in 1963," Lee recalls. "We were on the tour bus one evening and one of the guys in the band said, 'do you like the Beatles?' And I said, 'yes, I love the Beatles.' I guess word got back to them. When they came over they proclaimed their love for us. We were supposed to have a night out with him (John), but the record company kept us working so much we didn't get the opportunity."
Lee is proud that The Shirelles opened the door for so many female groups. "Mary Wilson said we were (influential) for The Supremes," she notes. "When they came out, they knocked us out of the box. But we were blessed because we went into playing clubs, we had a nightclub act and we did a lot of college dates. And our fans were loyal and are still with us today."
So what can we expect at Sunday's concert?
"We do all the songs that people love to hear, all the favorite songs and a few surprises. It will be good rock 'n roll. People will have a good rock 'n roll time."
* The Shirelles and The Manhattans perform in the Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $29, $39, and $49, with a limited number of premium seats available for $69 (with a meet-and-greet), plus applicable fees. Call 242-7469.