Roland Cazimero, who was hospitalized after falling ill in 2014 during The Brothers Cazimero’s Maui May Day concert, and who has since performed only rarely, speaks with me about his health challenges, personal life and career in a Long Story Short episode debuting Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm on PBS Hawai‘i.
Roland, whose nickname is Bozo or Boz, still hadn’t discussed the state of his health with his older brother and longtime music partner, Robert Cazimero: “We just don’t.” But he believes Robert knows that the sun has set on their iconic performances.
A virtuoso of the 12-string guitar, Roland would let Robert, on bass, handle the artful and upbeat onstage oratory and the smooth segues between songs. Roland injected teasing; he also was a master of short, flippant remarks. Together, the Brothers drew crowds and created enduring fans with their beautiful, soaring music and their entertaining banter.
In our conversation, Roland speaks comfortably and at length about picking up music easily as a kid in a musical family, but never getting formal piano lessons like his brother Robert and his twin sister Tootsie, because he was “kolohe” (a rascal). Also as a keiki, he met the legendary singer/guitarist Gabby Pahinui, and was entrusted with buffing up Pahinui’s guitar. He laughs that Gabby never got his name right; Roland was always Ronald.
As an adult, he was a “rebel” and a “player,” or womanizer. He said Robert and their hula dancer, the late Leina‘ala Heine, would take care of devoted fans and “high makamakas,” and Roland would “hang with the hoodlums.” They were his friends, and he says almost all of them have died, some in prison.
Appearing at PBS Hawai‘i with his loyal wife and caregiver Lauwa‘e, Roland explains matter-of-factly that his partying lifestyle was bad for his health, which is still touch-and-go. The couple reveals that he’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Now more of a homebody, Roland still writes songs and plays guitar, adjusting for his carpal tunnel condition. Lauwa‘e, who holds down an admin job when she’s not taking care of him, is his “best friend in the world,” he says – next to God, who’s “the best, period.”
One doctor told him plainly that he should make peace with his maker. “Done,” says Roland. While he’s still not always compliant with what the doctor says, he’s become a follower of Christ. When people ask about his health, Lauwa‘e likes to keep the answer short and sweet: “He’s alive.”
For any of us, that’s a gift.
Aloha a hui hou,