The Lap Steel Guitar

Sam Ku West

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Sam Ku West in 1926Sam Ku was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1907, becoming a professional musician when he joined Irene West's troupe of touring musicians and dancers in 1926. Initially he was known as Sam Ku, Jr. but soon adopted the professional name of Sam Ku West. Often he would be billed as the "Kreisler of the steel guitar" (referring to the famous violinist). This title was given to him by Prince George of England who saw him play in Singapore in 1926.

His recorded legacy was 27 sides - mainly instrumental pieces - recorded for Banner, Gennett, Vocalion and Victor in a 15 month period starting in June of 1927. There were plans for him to record for Odeon in Germany, but illness prevented that .

He was encouraged by his manager to learn to play the concert harp and quickly added solos on this instrument to his live act, though he never recorded with it.

In his short career he toured extensively, making two visits to the Far East. He spent six months on the vaudeville circuits of New York, Boston and Chicago. The final year of his life were spent in Europe. He died in Paris in 1930.

Sam was remembered by Tau Moe, who for a short time was one of his backing band, as one of the two best steel players at the time ...the other being Sol Hoopii.

All but one of Sam Ku's original recordings will be available on a CD to be released on the Grass Skirt label in the United Kingdom...for details visit

If you have questions, suggestions for improvements, or additional information, please let me know.