Stock celebrates a milestone

Live life to the fullest. That’s the motto for one of Samoa’s most popular personalities, Uava Vevesi Tovi’o, better known as “Stock.” 

Today, the musician is celebrating much more than his 70th birthday. This year also marks the 50th year since he became a musician, and the 25th year after he decided to go solo.

“I am thankful I have made it this far,” he tells the Weekend Observer. 

“If you asked me sixty years ago about performing in a band, I would’ve laughed at you. But things happen for a reason and I’m here today.”

Stock is a pioneer in his own right.

“I was the first to have a one-man-band,” he said. “Music was never part of my life growing up.  I don’t have any musicians in my family.

“But it was my first year in Chanel College which was when I fell in love with music.”

He shared that after college in 1967, he joined a band called “Samoan-Five-O.” They lasted for about 10 years.

But how did Uava come up with the name “Stock.”

 “In those days a popular movie was released called Woodstock. It was a 1970 documentary film of the watershed counterculture Woodstock Festival that took place in August 1969 near Bethel New York. 

“And this film was the benchmark of concert movies and one of the most entertaining documentaries ever made.

“I sang all their songs and that’s when people started calling me Stock. Today, I take that name with pride.”

Music has been good to Stock, taking him all over the world.

 “I’ve played all over New Zealand, Australia, America and Pago Pago and this was due to the strong support from my friends.” 

Before playing the piano, Stock was a guitarist. He also played bass and drums. 

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“Back then, there were no pianos, just guitars and I didn’t take any lessons, I was self-taught,” he said laughing. 

Stock added that the one-man-band came after being able to master playing all the chords. 

“I don’t play notes as I didn’t take any lessons; so as soon as I was able to play chords with the piano fluently; I took on the stage by myself. 

“It was challenging but in the end, I am reaping the fruits of hard work.”

He has also been blessed. He shared how he was able to score all the gigs at the Government functions. 

 “First impressions and word of mouth paved the way for me,” he said. 

“Aside from the popularity amongst the bars in Apia, I met a German who was a music teacher.

“He needed a singer and I joined him and he provided entertainment for most of the New Zealand Government’s functions. So when he left and up until now, I am still providing entertainment for them.” 

He told the Samoa Observer how music put food on his table for 25 years. 

“I held several jobs; first with the Ministry of Agriculture. I had a scholarship to Fiji; then upon return I worked at the Bureau of Statistics.

“I moved to Polynesian Airlines; at the same time I played gigs in the evening; but that it was never enough. I quit my job and worked on my One-Man-Band full time and it was one of the best decisions I made. 

“This put my kids through school, built a roof over my head and I got a small business right in front of my house.”

Stock’s One-Man-Band is popular with R&B and oldies.

One of the biggest gigs in recent memory was the closing ceremony of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders.

“This week I played at the Pacific Judicial Conference and these gigs are good for me.”

 Stock told the Samoa Observer the challenges that he loved with his One-Man-Band is playing up to 100 songs for a three hour gig. 

“My memory stick; I mean in my head, I have memorized over a thousand songs. I guess this is the result of doing something you are passionate about; it becomes you,” he said, laughing. 

Stock is married to Togitoto Tualaulelei. They are grandparents.

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