Pianist Les Peetz, one of Hawaii’s most respected jazz musicians, passed away after a battle with cancer on June 10, 2018. He was 68. His melodic style of jazz piano set the spirit soaring from the first bar. He entertained countless audiences with his music and extensive joke collection over a career spanning four decades at such venues as the Doris Duke and Atherton theatres, the UH Orvis auditorium, Ward Rafters and frequent club, restaurant and private gigs. He often appeared with vocalist Rachel Gonzales and with other top musicians under the rubric of the Les Peetz Trio.
Les was also a talented writer whose work appeared in HONOLULU magazine and other local publications; he published a collection of short stories on Amazon entitled, "The Holiday: Stories of Time and Place."
Les was born in Hilo on December 16, 1949, and grew up in a sugar community near Laupahoehoe on the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast. He graduated from St. Joseph School and attended the University of Hawaii/Hilo for a year before graduating from Gonzaga University and Law School, where he also performed widely in the local jazz scene.
He practiced law briefly on Oahu, but his heart was in his music and he moved with his family for a time to South Bend, Indiana, where he played and gigged extensively in Michiana and Chicago. Les returned to Honolulu in the early 1990s and quickly reestablished himself as a fixture in the jazz scene here.
He is survived by his son, Dr. Allan B. Peetz, of Nashville.
Friends, fans and fellow musicians who would like to share memories and participate in a tribute concert for Les, please email: HaleKaiLani@hawaii.rr.com.
Notice #: 0001157081-01