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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 2, 2006

Society of Seven mourns longtime lead singer

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Columnist

Tony Ruivivar

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Gary Bautista

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Dominic Monaghan

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Shari Lynn

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AFTERMATH: "It's been like a bad dream," said group leader Tony Ruivivar, of Society of Seven band mate Gary Bautista's last moments. Fans and friends are still stunned about his death Monday. As a lead singer and impressionist for 22 years, Bautista made quite an impression.

The group was performing at the West Ridge Golf Course on Saturday during a 25th wedding anniversary party for Mendrei and Cecile Leelin of Rosy Cheeks Entertainment (who produced the SOS Bally's Jubilee Theatre shows) when Bautista had a heart attack and stroke. "Even when he was down, he was still singing 'Always and Forever,' " said Ruivivar. "He was talking and trying to sing, but couldn't move his left arm and leg. He kept pointing to his right temple."

Speaking from Las Vegas, after driving home from Los Angeles, Ruivivar said that Bautista had a premonition that his heart would ultimately do him in. "He mentioned several times, after watching the Ed Sullivan video (shown during the group's performances) with Danny (Tony's late brother) and Terry (Lucido, another deceased member of the group), that he would be next because of his heart condition."

Eerily, Danny Ruivivar, Lucido and Bautista all died in Los Angeles, said Ruivivar. "It's a strange coincidence; it could have been anywhere, but it was L.A. for all three," said Ruivivar.

A celebration of Bautista's life will likely be held in Honolulu later, said Ruivivar, but the funeral will be Saturday at the Palms Mortuary in Las Vegas. The SOS will embark on an international tour Feb. 9 in Texas, with stops in Guam, Indonesia, Australia and Canada. An April 7 and 8 gig at the Hawaii Theatre will be the group's lone Honolulu shows this year. It'll be emotional, sans Bautista. ...

WHEE, THE PEOPLE: Dominic Monaghan of "Lost" guested on the "Tonight" show Monday night even brought poi for Jay Leno to taste. ...

Wal-Mart launches its Pearl City store on Saturday with Grammy nominee Raiatea Helm and comedian Augie T. among the entertainers (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Helm got a new 'do at Aveda (cut and color by stylist Ralph Malani) to prepare for the Grammy Awards next week, but she's been looking for a dress by a Hawaiian designer. Augie, of course, does a regular Wednesday stint at the Esprit at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel, but for Valentine's, the comedian is going to sea for "Augz & Kisses," Feb. 11 and 14, aboard the Ali'i Kai Dinner Cruise, departing at 5:30 p.m. Call Roberts Hawaii at 539-9400, ext. 5, to reserve space. ...

STAR TREK: That "Broadway at the Shanghai Bistro" show got a major boost Friday when the "Three Phantoms" Craig Schulman, Cris Groenendaal and Kevin Gray shared mike time. Especially nice (and local): "White Sandy Beach in Hawai'i," which they learned from Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's CD and customized to suit their three-part harmony. The gents feasted on Li May Tang's incredible menu delights and also listened to vocalist Rex Nockengust and keyboarder Don Conover (who also played the theater organ in the "Phantom" shows). Nockengust sings tomorrow and Sunday but will embark on a tour to Asia and Europe, returning April 7. In the interim, Shari Lynn sings to Conover's accompaniment from 8 p.m. Fridays and Sundays. Admission is $20, includes the show, pupu platter and one drink. Call 955-8668. ...

It may be the Seattle Seahawks' first trek to the Super Bowl on Sunday in Detroit when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers, but for D.K. Kodama, the Sansei and d.k. Steak House chef-restaurateur, Super Sunday is old hat. His fourth, in fact, when he represents Hawai'i at the Taste of the NFL gala to help feed the hungry and the homeless. ...

And that's Show Biz. ...

Show Biz is published Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com or fax 525-8055.