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Tequila Sunrise creator Bobby Lozoff skilled at reinventing himself

By Staff | Feb 11, 2016

Mark Ellman (left), pictured with Bobby Lozoff and Monica Cestone, is offering a drink special at Mala Ocean Tavern, Frida’s Beach House, and Honu. “Well yes, we are featuring a Tequila Sunrise cocktail made with Cuervo Rolling Stone Tour Special Edition for $9. Bobby came down and showed my bartenders how to make the drink properly. It’s such a great story,” said Ellman.

LAHAINA – Adapting to change is a good quality; but the key to success is reinventing oneself, and longtime Lahaina resident Bobby Lozoff has that rare talent.

From busboy, bartender to restaurant manager then from computer tech to volunteer teacher, Lozoff is now the star of a Jose Cuervo commercial and was credited in a National Geographic Travel Magazine Assignment Blog published in 2012 for inventing the Tequila Sunrise at the popular Trident Restaurant in the 1960s, when hippies danced in the streets and where rock stars came out to play.

Born in 1947, Lozoff is a native of Canada.

About his youth, he was succinct: “The minute I graduated from McGill University in Montreal, I bailed to the United States and ended up in Sausalito hanging out with hippie music circles in Marin County and got involved with the Trident opening up.”

He started off at the bottom of the heap; but, “when I turned 21, they let me start tending bar, and I kept advancing up.”

Lozoff, in his interview with the Lahaina News, waxed nostalgic, remembering the experience.

“The music scene in San Francisco was big in the summer of ’67, ’68, ’69, and Marin was the county where the Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin” reigned, he said.

At that time, he connected with Bill Graham, famous rock concert promoter. “He was one of our patrons. He lived close by and brought in a lot of acts and lot of people,” he added.

The liquor of choice, he observed, was tequila: “Our clientele drank lots of shots of Tequilaso I started making anything made with gin or vodka with tequila.”

“The Tequila Sunrise tasted pretty good; so we compacted it down to just orange juice, tequila and grenadine. I introduced it to the Stones at a very intimate party that Bill Graham hosted at the Trident. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger especially liked the drink and took it with them” on their storied 1972 North American Tour, later labeled the Tequila Sunrise Tour.

The Lahaina connection developed with his introduction to entrepreneurs John and Sharon Lawrence.

“At the time, they were building the Blue Max (now the Lahaina Pizza Company). They asked me to come over when we knew the Trident was going to close,” he said.

“When the Trident closed, I came over and John and Sharon hired me on the spot; that was in February ’76, 40 years ago.”

The Blue Max was the iconic Front Street establishment in the day. “We had the only license for five-piece music, and we put it to work,” Lozoff said.

He also reaped the benefits of his connection to Billy Graham.

“I knew the rock scene,” Lozoff recalled. “When rock groups would visit, I made it very comfortable, so they eventually started phoning me to come over here.”

He cited Elton John as an example.

“We just let him hang out with us during the pau hana hour between two and three in the morning, and he got real comfortable and wanted to come out of retirement.”

It was a rare occasion on Front Street in 1976 that late night denizens would scarcely forget – a joyful, take-your-breath-away impromptu street dance party.

Anne Haley, formerly of Lahaina and now relocated back to Marin, worked for Lozoff at the Blue Max.

“We had some amazing entertainment in the day – both local and famous folks who were visiting the island. The Max was a magnet for them as a venue. Bobby either knew or had some relationship with a lot of famous folks,” Haley recalled.

Kahana resident Jeannine (Connell) Carr also has fond memories.

“Bobby was well connected with many people in the music business and a close friend to music producer Bill Graham. During the time I worked there,” Carr continued, “he (Bobby) was able to arrange and introduce many, many great artists to the Lahaina community.

“Elton John gave an amazing performance my first week on the job, and Linda Ronstadt and band played for two nights while she introduced her new album ‘Living in the USA’ during Kona storm conditions.

“The Blue Max had a cozy club atmosphere where many celebrities/singers felt comfortable, and they would stop in and surprise the patrons with a song or two,” she remembered.

Bobby’s epic Blue Max run ended in 1983, and he eventually reshaped his direction toward the infinite possibilities of the computer world.

“I had experience with computers and software in college,” Lozoff observed.

“I got into Macintosh, and I bought a computer at the Mac store in Kahului.”

Since then, he’s morphed into a well-versed, self-taught computer guru with innovative high-tech skills.

“I think I had the first digital camera on Maui,” Lozoff remarked.

“I worked for Media Systems ’til about 2009,” he added, and then got caught up in the 2008 crash of the economy.

Lozoff is not one, however, to rest on his laurels or be held down by antiquated labels.

He’s now teaching on a volunteer basis computer classes at the West Maui Senior Center.

His goal is altruistic: “I just want to bring my contemporaries, people the same age as myself, into the digital world.”

Lozoff teaches at the Lahaina center with Rick Lantz.

“Since August 2010, when he decided to do a free class on using Mac computers, I signed up to see what he was doing; and we hit it off right away. From that first class, we have been team-teaching (sharing Apple Knowledge) with all who come,” Lantz said.

But Lozoff is ready to “taper off.”

What’s next? The Lahaina News doesn’t think he’ll retire. We’ll wait to see how he reinvents himself this time, because, Lozoff said, “I don’t like to be bored.”