Silver Star Bill Tapia
World’s oldest professional ukulele performer
Tapia has three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren. To his dismay, none of them are in music. “They’re smart, they catch on fast, but they wouldn’t practice,” he said, so he stopped trying to teach them.
How did he celebrate his 101st birthday? He rented a place in Newport Beach, California, and celebrated with more than 300 people (“all nice people, no drunks”) and music that went all day long.
And how does he feel? Wonderful, but for his eyes. Up until three years ago, he was still driving and didn’t even need glasses. Now, macular degeneration has set in. “It breaks my heart,” he said. “I can hardly read music unless I put it up to my nose.” But, he adds wistfully, “you’re gonna get some kind of problem at this age.”
Published January 27, 2009
Silver Planet Feature Writer