|About BOB ALDER:
Bob Alder grew up in the Los Angeles area where he began piano lessons at the age of
five with Elsa Burland. In the 5th grade he took up flute and piccolo in the La Canada
Elementary School band and orchestra under respected music teacher Dean Logsdon. At
La Canada Jr. High he was fortunate to receive further instrumental training, in band and
orchestra, from the legendary Lawrence Bellis. He studied popular piano stylings with
Tookie Goff in Pasadena. On the flute he studied with Lewis Ellenhorn, received
performance coaching from Robert Marsteller and was accepted as a student by Roger
At the age of 14 he began studying organ with Gaylord Carter which lasted for several
years. Through Gaylord Carter, young Alder became involved with the restoration of the
huge Kimball pipe organ in the Wiltern Theatre, a project which laid the foundation for his
lifelong interest in the technology of organ construction and maintenance. That association
led to him performing on the Wiltern organ for intermissions and special events for several
years while attending John Muir High School and Pasadena City College. At the same time,
he continued performing on flute and piccolo in bands and orchestras. He was awarded a
scholarship from the Los Angeles Organists Breakfast Club to study with Gordon Kibbee.
A draft notice in 1967 prompted him to enlist in the US Navy where he was accepted in the
Navy music program. After boot camp and a period at the Navy School Of Music in Virginia,
he spent two years with the 100 piece Naval Training Center Band in San Diego, followed
by two years with the 12th Naval District Band at Treasure Island, San Francisco, as flutist
and drum major. He rose through the ranks to Petty Officer First Class after only 3½ years.
During his Navy years he continued to perform on theatre organ. In San Diego he appeared
frequently at the Fox Theatre and also in concert on the Spreckles Memorial Organ in
Balboa Park. In San Francisco he was featured at the Avenue Theatre, in concert and
accompanying silent movies, and could be found playing in various lounges, saloons and
supper clubs around the Bay Area.
In 1973 he was hired as a musician and entertainer on the passenger liner SS Monterey.
This full-time job lasted until the SS Monterey was decommissioned in 1978. Alder travelled
on the ship throughout Hawaii and the South Pacific as far as Australia and New Zealand,
to Alaska, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. It was a dream job and he was fortunate
to meet and work with many top names of the entertainment and music industries. His
comedic talents led to an appearance on NBC-TV's "The Gong Show".
In 1978 Bob Alder was a staff organist for San Francisco’s Castro Theatre when an
opportunity came to move to Hawaii, working his way across the Pacific as entertainer on
the cargo-liner MV Enna-G of Nauru Pacific Lines. This led to a job as the ship’s passenger
services officer for several voyages throughout Micronesia.
After settling in Honolulu, Alder became relief organist at the famed Waikiki Theatre for
weekend intermissions. He entertained in many clubs and restaurants including an
extended engagement at Pearl City Tavern. He was appointed staff organist at the Waikiki
Theatre in 1981 and played every weekend and for special events until 1998. He was the
last organist at the Waikiki Theatre.
With the closing of the Waikiki Theatre and its impending demolition, Alder negotiated the
donation of its famous organ to Hilo's Palace Theatre so that it could be combined with the
best of the original Palace pipe organ to create the largest theatre pipe organ in Hawaii.
In 1998, the Hilo Palace Theater reopened and he was a popular fixture there until his
retirement from performing in 2011. Some of his appearances on TV and live
performances can be seen on Youtube at
He began his second career as an organ technician for Allen Organs in 1979. He has
continued that relationship and is the senior Certified Allen Organ Technician in Hawaii.
Alder and partner Jude Oliver also service other brands of electronic and digital organs as
well as antique Wurlitzer juke boxes.
For several years Alder has provided technical assistance to Hawaii Public Radio
maintaining the Mauna Loa relay site and transmitter sites for KANO (HPR-1, East Hawaii)
and KAHU (HPR-2, Pahala & Ka'u).
Bob Alder served for several years on the board of the Hilo Downtown Improvement
Association including one term as president. He has also served on the boards of the
Hawaii Theatre Center, as co-founder and vice-president, and Hilo’s Palace Theater. He is
a longtime member of the Musical Instrument Technicians Association International and the
Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He has lived in the Wainaku district of
Hilo since 1990.