Hawaiʻi music icon, Milan Bertosa, dies at age 61

Honolulu (KHON2) — Hawaii’s music lost its legend. Milan Bertosa has been associated with some of the most iconic talents in the world.

Bertosa’s friends and family announced that he died of a heart attack on Sunday, January 1, at the age of 61.

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Born in the former Yugoslavia, Bertosa’s family fled the Soviet-occupied territories. And he eventually landed in Chicago by age seven. He has won the Na Hoku Hano Hano Award four times in recognition of his sound/music engineering talents.

He won Henry Kapono’s Song for Someone in 1991 with Jim Linkner, Dave Russell and Dave Tucharon. In 1998, he performed NāLeo Pilimehana’s Clouds with He Porter Miller. He performed with Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom and Willie K on the album Hanai’ali’i in 1999 and Na Leo Pilimehana’s A Pocketful of Paradise in 2001 with Howard Women.

However, his most famous work was the Hawaiian version of Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World. Israel KamakawiwooleThe song became a platinum bestseller and the most requested song in Hawaii.

Legend has it that “Milan was closing the studio after a very long and difficult day when his phone rang. I told him I was with Israel who wanted to record some demos, Milan’s first reaction was to decline as it was 3am but Israel answered the phone and said I shared my thoughts and ideas.It was so sincere and polite that Milan agreed and reopened his studio.At that midnight session, Milan sang “Over the Rainbow” and “Hawaiian I recorded Israel while singing a two-song one-take wonder performance of White Sand Beach.

Bertosa had an illustrious career working with some of the top engineers in the music industry. Then, upon moving to Hawaii, he produced some of Hawaii’s most iconic music.

He attended Columbia College where he earned a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Recording and Sound Engineering. He continued training under his legendary Chess Records chief his engineer Malcolm Chisholm.

Milan formally transferred his musical skills to Hawaii in 1988 when he opened a small recording studio, Audio Resources Hawaii’i, in the Century Center Building near Waikiki.

The move saw him join legends such as Israel Kamakawiwole, Brothers Casimero, Ka’au Crater Boys, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom, Don Ho, Kalapana, Willie K, Hawaiian Style Band, Cecilio & Kapono. I am in a position to work. , Nā Leo Pilimehana, Mānoa DNA, Pacific Harp Project, Teresa Bright, Uluwehi Guerrero, Aunty Irmgard Farden Aluli — just to name a few.

COVID has taken a toll on Beltosa’s music business. However, according to people close to him, he had high hopes for 2023.

“Milan showed no signs of illness and appeared to be in good health, enjoying the holidays, cooking and celebrating with friends in the days before his death. On New Year’s Eve, Milan died. He suffered a devastating heart attack that led to his untimely and unexpected death,” said a close family friend.

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Bertosa is survived by his wife Maya and his devoted music industry peers. He will be officially buried with his family in Chicago, but to help his family pay for medical and funeral expenses, a Celebration of Life ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 12 at Bryan’s, Hawaii. A fundraiser will be held.

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