10 Famous Ukulele Lovers
Being a very accessible instrument, the ukulele isn’t just a hit with professional musicians. There are plenty of amateur musicians who have become ukulele evangelists. Here are some of the world’s most well known and most influential ukulele fans.
What better way to relax after a long journey than a bit of ukeing? When the astronauts of Apollo 11 returned to earth fear of moon-germs meant they were quarantined for three weeks. Neil Armstrong passed the time practicing his ukulele.
As one of the world’s richest men Warren Buffett can afford all the Steinways and Stradivariuses he wants. Instead he prefers to play the ukulele. Often busting it out for a singalong the annual general meeting of his company Berkshire Hathaway.
William H Macy
Actor and director William H Macy is a long-time ukulele fan. And he’s become something of a ukulele evangelist giving out ukuleles to the cast and crew of the movies and TV shows he works on.
He modestly says of his playing, “I’m not good but I’m loud.”
The original uke boom in the 1920s coincided with the heyday of silent movies. So it’s no surprise it turned up in movies by Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy and many others.
But it was most iconic in the hands of original “It Girl” Clara Bow. Her charisma and acting launched her to stardom and made sure that no flapper was fully dressed without a ukulele.
Zooey Deschanel is a huge style icon to young women. As well as influencing their fringes, make-up and 50s dresses, she’s inspired thousands to take up the ukulele.
Like many a uker, she enjoys making ukulele videos with her friends and uploading them to YouTube. Recent examples include the Tonight You Belong to Me with Ben Schwarz (Parks and Recreation) and What are You Doing New Years Eve with her (500) Days of Summer co-star Jospeh Gordon-Levitt. And regularly plays uke in her band She & Him.
Best known for his roles as Dr. Strangelove and Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series of films, Peter Sellers also had a successful career as a singer. His bread and butter was comedy songs and he regularly picked up a uke to cover songs from the 20s and 30s like Ukulele Lady and I Haven’t Told Her, She Hasn’t Told Me.
The most ukulele-packed show on TV at the moment has to be Steven Universe. That’s thanks in no small part to the multi-talented Rebecca Sugar. Animator, musician, writer, creator of Steven Universe and, most importantly, ukulelist.
Sugar also worked on the similarly uke-heavy Adventure Time created by uker Pendleton Ward. The Adventure Time theme is a perfect song for new ukers with a simple strumming pattern and beginner chords: G, D and C.
Thanks to the uke’s whimsicle nature, the uke is popular with stand-up comedians from the nerdy science songs of Helen Arney to Rob Newman political comedy.
Biggest of all is Daily Show correspondent, humorist and deranged millionaire John Hodgman. Anticipating the Mayan-predicted apocalypse in 2012, Hodgman ended what he assumed would be the world’s final comedy show by taking up his uke and leading the audience in singing Resist the Tide.
Thankfully, the world didn’t end and he’s still playing his ukulele.
Of course someone suave and dapper enough to play James Bond would play the ukulele. Brosnan, like many people, first picked up a ukulele on a visit to Hawaii. Since then he’s been taking one everywhere and calls it, “the most humorous, charming instrument”.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If you’ve seen him smashing skulls in the WWE or in his many roles in action movies you might not have The Rock pegged as the ukulele playing type. But he’s a fan and turned in a surprisingly delicate cover of Wonderful World in Journey 2.