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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Ink Spots singer, lounge host Pico Payne dead at 76

By Kapono Dowson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Simon Alfred "Pico" Payne, who sang with the Ink Spots, died Friday in Honolulu. He was 76.

Pico Payne loved Hawai'i's weather and the people's friendliness.
Born July 28, 1925, Payne was raised in Kansas City, Mo. But he considered Honolulu his home for the past 10 years, his girlfriend Judy Pollard said.

Payne first came here to do a two-year contract for Sheraton with the Ink Spots in the 1990s. He stayed as the manager of the Banana Patch Lounge at the Miramar At Waikiki, Pollard said.

Performing regularly at the karaoke lounge he ran, at benefit shows and at Unity Church, Payne loved Hawai'i's weather and the people's friendliness, Pollard said.

"He would say, 'I'm not leaving Hawai'i,'" she said.

The Ink Spots were a popular vocal group in the 1940s. As a "jive" group, their music was considered early rhythm and blues.

The song "If I Didn't Care" brought the group international fame. Payne could harmonize any part and had a range that hit low bass notes and soared to descant soprano.

However, being founder and director of the Leviticus singers of Kansas City was Payne's proudest accomplishment, Pollard said. The gospel singing group was from the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1963, the group appeared on the "Ted Mack Amateur Hour," a national TV talent show. The group disbanded in the 1970s. Many of the singers became pastors, ministers of music and choir directors in churches throughout the country, Pollard said.

Payne's motto was "It's never too late to do good," Pollard said.

Besides Pollard, Payne is survived by sons Anthony and Adrian; a daughter, Sarah; and stepson Travis Long. A memorial service will be held at Unity Church tonight at 6 p.m. at 3608 Diamond Head Circle.

Reach Kapono Dowson at kdowson@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8103.