Although he was born in California, Robin Luke grew up in Hawaii and was still attending high school there when he was ‘discovered’. Promoters saw him as a possible Ricky Nelson-style teen idol and for a few years he did very well. He’s now mostly remembered for his 1958 Top Ten hit “Susie Darlin’,” but he actually made a number of successful records during his short performing career.
By the time he was in high school Luke had already learned to play the ukelele and guitar, and he was also singing in a style that was very much like the early rock and rollers that he — like most teenagers — loved to listen to. When he began showing up in local music shows, it didn’t take long for promoters to steer him to a recording contract.
His first record featured two of his own songs, “Living’s Loving You” and “Susie Darlin’,” which was named for his young sister. The record did so well in Hawaii that it was reissued on the mainland by Dot Records and it soon became a national best-seller. Luke — who was already a big celebrity in Hawaii — soon began touring all over the country and also showing up on shows like American Bandstand.
For a few years Luke lived the life of a typical teen idol, making well-received followup records like “Chicka-Chicka-Honey,”and hobnobbing with the likes of Ricky Nelson and Buddy Holly. But even then, he was smart enough to see his future was not in music, and he continued his education while his musical career wound down. By the early 1960s he was out of music and beginning what would be a long and successful business and academic career.
2 thoughts on “Robin Luke – Hawaii’s Own Teen Idol”
“Susie Darlin’” wasn’t just a hit in your country, it was huge here in Australia as well.
Thanks, Peter. Always good to hear from you.