*Updated for 2018!
The ukulele is one of the most popular musical instruments of modern times. Ukulele chords make you automatically reminisce of the sunny Hawaii and relaxed dances. Later in its development, the musicians performing country, indie and even rock music started playing the ukulele.
Many famous people play this instrument in their spare time as Tom Hanks, Ryan Gosling, Madonna, and others. Impressive, isn’t it? It is also important to talk about professional ukulele players that made a contribution to the music itself. Here are our TOP-55 most famous ukulele players of all time.
- Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
He was extremely popular in his homeland and immediately became famous all over the world. Israel was a man who advocated his social and political views through music, which was so admirable!
- Jake Shimabukuro
He is an outstanding American composer, who became famous due to his ukulele playing in the YouTube video. Shimabukuro combines elements of rock, blues, jazz and other genres, making his music extraordinary.
- Eddie Kamae
Performing in the group Sons of Hawaii, Eddie made the ukulele a solo instrument. He could also skillfully play the melody and rhythm simultaneously.
- James Hill
He was not only an outstanding Canadian ukulele player and even an educator. Fully focusing on playing ukulele, he developed instructions for children.
- Eddie Vedder
World-renowned musician plays on a variety of instruments, but has a special thrill to the ukulele. In 2011 it was released an album named Ukulele Songs.
- Taylor Swift
A worldwide famous songwriter and singer often accompanies her sweet voice by stringed musical instruments, such as guitars, ukuleles and banjos.
- Daniel Ho
Winner of prestigious awards, including Grammy is a talented musician and composer. Daniel stands on due to the inventive approach to the ukulele.
- George Harrison
The guitarist of The Beatles was heavily influenced by the Hawaiian music. Inspired by ukulele chords he combined them with Indian melodies, giving a unique style to his playing.
- Genoa Keawe
Beautiful voice and traditional ukulele playing touched to the heart. She performed for more than 60 years and always was loved by the audience.
Wendell Hall. He valued the small dimensions of the instrument and took everywhere with himself. He played different kinds of ukulele and worked on professional instructions.
- Greg Hawkes
He was amazed by talented Paul McCartney who actually was a ukulele musician. Hawkes started making experiments with ukulele melodies combining them with The Beatles songs.
- Don Ho
Due to Hawaiian and Portuguese background Do Ho was engaged in ukulele playing. He was performing traditional American music with ukulele chords.
- Ryan Choi
He is one of the first musicians who performs ukulele music with elements of electronics. It’s worth listening!
- Ingrid Michaelson
She’s a talented Swedish performer who plays pop and indie music with ukulele chords.
- Amanda Palmer
Once when she used the ukulele during her concert, Amanda liked the sound of the instrument. Since then the ukulele accompanies Palmer’s songs and concerts.
- Age Pryor
The musician of New Zealand made a great contribution in the ukulele development founding the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra.
- Patrick Wolf
He is a modern musician and composer. Generally, he plays ukulele, viola, and piano, combining classical melodies with electronic sounds.
- Julia Nunes
Mostly famous by YouTube viral video of playing ukulele she inspires a lot of people. She performs both cover songs and her own ones.
- Herbert Buckingham Khaury
also known as Tiny Tim had played ukulele since his childhood. He took part in numerous ukulele festivals and accompanied his playing by the special high voice.
- Lou Barbow
An alternative rock musician who adds ukulele melodies to his songs.
- Sam Brown
An outstanding performer successfully runs several ukulele clubs. Just listen to one of her singles and you will be impressed!
- Billy Carpenter
An ukulele player of 20s who was famous for an particular voice techniques.
- Zee Avi
A Malaysian female musician who is popular for tender ukulele playing. Apart from playing, she makes creative artworks on her ukuleles and gives them to her fans.
- Danielle Anderson
A famous YouTuber and ukulele musician.
- Jason Castro
A participant of American Idol. He was the first one who played ukulele on the show.
- Jim Beloff
Obsessed with ukulele playing, he launched ukulele workshops, festivals, awards etc.
- Joe Brown
A worldwide famous musician who occasionally accompanies his performances with ukulele sounds.
- Frank Crumit
He was a popular singer and composer in the 20s. He was the first who played ukulele on the Bradway show.
- Wayne Federman
Comedian and TV-star who performed rock melodies of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin etc with an electric ukulele. Nowadays he is a headliner on the stage of the British Ukulele Festival.
- Andy Eastwood
He’s a famous ukulele musician and an advocate of ukulele music He had released numerous singles and albums with ukulele melodies.
- Cliff Edwards
He is a self-taught ukulele player who is mostly responsible for ukulele popularity in the middle of the past century.
- George Formby
An English actor and musician primely famous for his unique character – wearing a suit and playing the ukulele made him memorable.
- Kaplan Kaye
An actor and composer is a part of an ukulele-duo, named The Ukaye Ukes.
- John King
An outstanding ukulelist who experimented with combining classical music and ukulele playing.
- Gabby La La
Mostly, she plays experimental genres of music adding ukulele or accordion melodies.
- Molly Lewis
She makes YouTube videos with ukulele playing. She became famous for making covers on Poker Face and Toxic.
- Joni Mitchell
She is a country musician. As the genre had a recession she began practicing ukulele and gained popularity
- Peter Moon
He had a successful career of musician and then he launched a set of instructional videos on playing the ukulele.
- Teresa Mary O’Shea
She was a Welsh actress who considered to be a ukulele heroine and to make a contribution in the Golden Age of the ukulele.
- Lyle Ritz
He was a main contributor to the new wave of ukulele musicians. He performed jazz with the ukulele accompaniment.
- Bill Tapia
He was a jazz guitarist and the ukulele legend performing on the one stage with Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong.
- Bennie Nawahis
He was a solo-player in the 20s and 30s. He was also known as King of the Ukulele.
- Heidi Swedberg
She was an actress and has played ukulele since her childhood. Nowadays she ha her own musical band where she performs ukulele melodies.
- Victoria Davitt
A leader of the band named Tres Femmes once added bass and ukulele sound to her songs.Nowadays she performs ukulele as a primary instrument in her singles.
- Herb Ohta
He was an outstanding ukulelist of the 30s who played romantic music, jazz and mostly traditional Hawaiian melodies. Nowadays his son is also a successful ukulele olayer.
- Roy Sakuma
He’s a prominent ukulele educator who is a founder of the Ukulele Festival, a leading event devoted to this instrument.
- Ayano Tsuji
She is a Japanese musician famous for her uncommon singing and ukulele playing. Tsuji began playing ukulele after she understood that her hands are too small for the guitar. What a concourse of circumstances!
- Dent May
Being a songwriter and a composer, May made an album fully devoted to the ukulele melodies.
- Gerald Ross
He is an American musician and ukulele teacher who carry out workshops and practical lessons in the camps and festivals.
- Billy Scott
He a British ukulelist who prefers this instrument because of its tender sound. He made a contribution to the developing of ukulele music.
- Grace Avery VanderWaal
A 13-years old girl who performed playing ukulele on the stage of America’s Got Talent in 2016.
- Ian Timothy Whitcomb
An English songwriter and singer who stimulated the interest towards ukulele melodies.
- Ernest Kaʻai
The musician was first who played ukulele for the full song. He is the main authority of Hawaiian music of all time.
- Aidan James
The distinctive feature of Aidan’s performances is playing rock music with ukulele accompaniment.
- Laura Pergolizzi
She is better known as LP. Apart from a paricular voice, she adds to her singles the melodies of specific instruments, such as harmonica and ukulele.
- Taimane Gardner
is a composer and a ukulele player. When she was at the age of five five, she picked up her first ukulele and started her future in performing. She would play on the streets of Waikiki with the beach boys. Taimane’s talent was discovered by a legendary crooner, Don Ho and she became a performer in his show. From there, her popularity grew and Taimane has performed all over the world.
- Roy Smeck
was one of the great American popular musicians of the 20th century, and he wouldn’t be recognizable of he didn’t specialize in a musical instrument called the ukulele.As a boy, he was captivated with learning to play musical instruments, and he almost suffered a nervous breakdown from his relentless exercising. He eventually narrowed his focus into the acoustic guitar, harmonica, and banjo, and somewhere around the time of America’s entry into World War One, he started performing on the vaudeville circuit. He was a novelty musical actions.
- Ian Emmerson
says that he got into ukulele by accident.He used to perform on and off for years as a guitarist in various bands and had written songs since he was a teenager.His first ukulele was a brown Lahaina and he took it so much and ended up selling all his guitars.
- Phil Doleman
has become one of the most recognized players in the UK ukulele scene and has always been at the forefront of the ukulele revival for a long time. He is in demand for theaters,festivals and club gigs, and also private events in Europe and the United Kingdom. He has featured on several albums, performed on TV and radio, and has been on stage with some the finest players in the world.
- Aldrine Guerrero
is an ukulele player coming from the island of Kaua’i. Aldrine began at local coffee shops in Kauai and churches and has since gone on stages from coast to coast in the US to international performances.Guerrero is one of the founders of Ukulele Underground together Ryan Esaki and Aaron Nakamura.
- Sarah Maisel
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Sarah Maisel has always had the love for music. When she was six years old, she started violin lessons and played in youth orchestras for a few years. She focused on classical for the 10 years that she studied.In 2006, she and a friend went to check out an Ukulele group at a pizza parlor in Encinitas and it was at this time she developed a passion for playing the ukulele.
- Ryo Montgomery
from Cairns, Australia is a guitarist, plays the Ukulele, Gigs and working in a music shop.He is living the dream having developed passion for the ukulele and performing in front of different people around the world.
- Manitoba Hal Brolund
For the past 15 years, Manitoba Hal Brolund has had an international reputation for engaging in performances, storytelling and masterful ukulele playing. His foundation in American blues and roots music, confident vocals, and distinctive original music have made him be in demand at festivals, house concerts and soft seat theaters in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.Having been recognized as a master of ukulele, his instruments include a steel strung baritone-slide ukulele and a custom made double-necked ukulele.
- Carla Morrison
is a singer of Mexican origin and she lives in Baja California Mexico.Her business is to create music with pedals with loops and clips, with her keyboard and guitar effects. In their sound, you can feel the melancholy very entertaining as it gives a lot melody and happiness.
- Mick Fleetwood
is a British actor and musician, best known for his role as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band Fleetwood Mac. Mick is now a proud ukulele player and his model comes from mele ukuleles.
- Bruce Springsteen
is a rock star and a well-known singer-songwriter. His best-known songs are Springsteen’s working-class roots in New Jersey.He now plays the ukulele musical instrument.
- Barrack Obama
The 44th president of the United States is from Hawaii, and so he might know a few chords. Barack Obama loves playing the ukulele and has been seen performing in front of people even in his early life.
- Elvis Presley
was an American singer, actor and song producer. He is widely known by the name Elvis.Elvis began his music career at Sun Records in 1954 when Sam Philips recorded Elvis performing several of Elvis’ favorite songs with Bill Black and Scotty Moore (guitar).
- Bette Midler
is an American singer, comedian, and actress, She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Jewish parents, and raised there. Midler then went to New York City to pursue acting on stage, and it was there that she started singing at Continental Baths, which is a gay bathhouse in the city, where she became close to her piano accompanist.She then developed the love for playing ukulele.
- William H. Macy
plays and self-Soothes with the uke. He talks about the importance of the ukulele and music in his life. His wife, Felicity Huffman, says he uses the ukulele to self-soothe.
- The Rock
playing ukulele to your list of internet treasures. The Rock who has lived in Hawaii and is of Samoan heritage plays the ukulele off-screen.
- John Lennon
The legendary English musician, songwriter, singer, and peace activist, born in Liverpool, the United Kingdom who gained fame as a founder member of The Beatles. Lennon formed one of the most influential and successful songwriting with Paul McCartney.
- JNeil Armstrong
It seems the first man on the moon played the ukulele.There is an image taken of Neil playing the ukulele after he had become the first man to walk on the moon.
- Johnny Marr
Born to Irish immigrants in Manchester. Johnny Marr is a songwriter, guitarist, producer and singer. He is known for being a founder member,guitarist and songwriter in cult band -The Smiths
- Steven Tyler
He is singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and a television music competitions judge, also known as the head singer in the rock band Aerosmith, in which he plays the harmonica, piano and ukulele.
- John Sebastian
was born in America and he was a singer and songwriter,harmonicist, guitarist, and autoharpist, and is best known as the one who founded The Lovin’ Spoonful.He also played the ukulele musical instrument.
- Pierce Brosnan
is an Irish film producer, actor, and activist. He plays an Island Ukulele made by Raymond Rapozo. He has been playing for a few years now.
- Greta Garbo
was a Swedish-born American actress during the 1930s.She has been pictured playing the ukulele.
- Cybill Shepherd
is an American singer, actress and also a former model. She plays an Island ukulele.