This page contains personal memories of Korla Pandit.
If you have memories you'd like to share, please send them to these pages.
We would love to hear from you!
remember how I first "met" Korla. Some 15 years ago a friend played
me "Korla Pandit At The Pipe Organ" in an old house in the red light
district of Arnhem, a Dutch town near the German border. He was selling off
some of his records and I was invited to have a listen. At that time I was very
interested in experimental music, so we happily listened to albums filled with
weird noises, sound effects and scraping. To balance things, he put on the
Korla album, which immediately blew me away! I purchased the disc with a smile
on my face and in my heart. And so the Big Hunt for Korla Pandit music began,
which was pretty difficult in the pre-Internet and pre-Ebay days. Still, over
the last 15 odd years I collected a large number of his albums, singles and
memorabilia. I even wrote a letter to Korla, telling him how much his music
meant to me, but it was returned - I was a few months too late and Korla had
sadly passed on. Even though I have kept my love for experimental music, Korla
comfortably snugs in with albums by Nurse With Wound or Beequeen, proof of how
universal his music really is. I feel very privileged to have made friends with
Freek Kinkelaar, www.korlapandit.com, The Netherlands
I drove to San Francisco to see his tiki revival show. It was awesome. There I was in Bimbo's nightclub, a San Francisco landmark from the past, watching Korla Pandit, a San Francisco legend from the past. He looked the same, and most important, played the same. The years seemed to melt away, as time stood still for me that night, and for everybody who was there, a "full house". Thanks Korla, for the memory!
Betty Hansan, San Jose, CA.
Back in the day, he was the most UNIQUE and INTRIGUING novelty ANYONE had ever seen or heard on Television. And of course in THOSE days, what you now call "lounge music" plus his "Indian" themes really tickled the folk's ears and senses! Yes, those were the days, my friend......
Matthew B., Hayward, CA.
Every afternoon my mother and I would sit down in front of the television and watch the mysterious Hindu Korla Pandit, jewel dangling hypnotically, gaze into the camera (we thought he was staring right at us!) and play some of the most beautiful music we have ever heard. My mother has long since passed away, but when I think of those times, and the music Korla brought into our lives, she is alive again, vivid in my memory, and Korla Pandit is the one who enlivens my imagination to this day.
Gary W., Seattle, WA.
People do remember Korla after being told but this is mostly the older set. The last time I saw Korla was great. After not seeing him for 10-15 years I had changed a great deal, but when I went through the receiving line to see him , Korla looked me right in the eye and before I could say a word he greeted me by name and wondered aloud whether or not I would be there. How he could stand there look at my face and tell this was the same person who used to be a little kid marveling at his music I'll never know. It was a great moment, and he asked about my mother, so that was special that he remembered her after all these years.
My name is Ron Redifer. I was good friends with Shari Pandit and knew Korla Pandit in Los Angeles. Shari was a member of my Doors band, Strange Daze from 1983 to 1986. The band had huge success. Shari was one of the most likeable characters I've ever met. We auditioned him and he lived with me before we toured extensively around North America. He would stare into a woman's eyes and she would be mesmerized by him. He was such a soulful man. He dated one of my wife's friends for a short time. I dearly miss him. Korla came to my wedding at the La Meridian Hotel in Newport Beach in 1993. There were several older women and men there. They acted as though they had met Elvis when they met him. Nobody could believe he was at the wedding. I played drums with him on stage with the Hanley Page band and Shari. Shari played the piano as we walked down the isle. I couldn't get Shari to go to his room after the wedding he was having such a great time with everyone. We played together again for a brief period before he left to Canada. I will miss both of them.
Ron Redifer, Strange Daze Drummer,
I never saw him without the turban. He really wasn't as strange as people might imagine. What you saw was there and it was real. It was not an act. I loved his attitude toward the public. He was very decent to them and never put them down in private. He wasn't that complicated where he imagined himself to be something that he wasn't.
Saul Zaentz, Berkeley film producer and owner of Fantasy Records
I just recently learned of the passing of Korla Pandit. This has saddened me quite a bit, because his gift for music brightned up many lives. Mr. Pandit was a major influence upon my way of playing the keyboards. When I was a small boy, I used to watch his show, and marveled at the way he worked the piano and the organ into the pieces he played. Although I never consciously tried to imitate his style, the sounds of his music stayed in my ear and mind. During the early 1970's I played the keyboards and other instruments with a small group that worked in nightclubs and pizza parlors in the Houston area. One of my friends and fans, Sheldon Parks, told me one evening that when I played "Caravan," it reminded him of a keyboard artist he'd heard a few years before. He had some albums by this artist. It was, of course, Korla Pandit. I told Sheldon how I used to watch the show on television. So, I ordered the albums from my local record supplier and listened to them quite regularly, recalling those days when, as a child, I would sit in front of the TV set, enraptured by the esoteric sounds he got from those instruments. My wife also became a Korla Pandit fan. In late 1973, we noticed that he was going to make an appearance at Evans Music City in Houston. Sheldon and I decided we would attend the program.
About a week before his appearance at Evans Music City, Sheldon and I were at a magician's convention in Arlington Texas, where one of the speakers made the statement, "If you are going to perform at a Halowe'en show, there is no better background music than Korla Pandit's 'Tale of the Underwater Worshippers.' It sounds spooky, and provides the necessary atmosphere." He continued, "Korla Pandit had the first syndicated music show on television, but seems to have disappeared. Nobody I have contacted knows how to find him." Excitedly, we approached the presenter after the program and let him know that we planned to see Korla the following week. This brings me to the real point of this story. When he made his appearance, the bulk of the audience was older ladies. He played several pieces, mostly pop tunes. Then he turned to the audience and said, "Now it's time for a command performance. If you have a request, please let me know, and if I know it, I'll play it." The four of us called out simultaneously, "Tale of the Underwater Worshippers." He nearly fell off the bench! You would have really liked the look on his face! He said, "Someone is familiar with my work!" And he played a much longer version of the piece than was on the original recording. We could not have been more pleased. After the program, we approached him, thanked him profusely, and I told him how much of an impression his music had left upon me. He was warm and friendly. It is so seldom that one gets to meet a childhood idol and finds him to be such a nice, friendly person. Thanks for putting up the web site. it is a fitting memorial to a man whose music inspired, enlightened and entertained thousands, if not millions of people.
Bill Palmer, M.I.M.C., KGC #14
I have a memory of Korla Pandit that I would like to share. My husband and I were living in Irving, Texas a number of years ago and found out that Korla Pandit was going to be down the street at a place that sold Piano's and Organs, so I told my husband that I really want to go see him because I remember seeing him as a child on our old black and white tv. He was magical. The look and the music mesmerized me. I loved watching him and listening to his music. Anyhow we went to see and hear him and he was just as I remembered him. It's hard to believe that he didn't look any older than he had when I was younger. We listened to him and I got a chance to talk to him after he was done playing. I also got a record album with his autograph on it (which I still have). He will be so missed. I loved his music. Rest in Peace Korla. You will be missed.
When I was around 4 or 5 years old when we lived in Compton California. I remember seeing Korla on TV channel 5, and several we moved to Yucaipa California. in the mid 50s. I really enjoy seeing and hearing him. Someone in the family purchased the 4 singles set of Musical Gems. In the early 60s he started playing concerts in the Inland Empire. The first that we were aware of and went to was at the Steel Workers Union hall in Fontana. He played at the Colton High Scholl both at school Assemblies and a night time concert that we attended. He always played a Hammond CV, C3 or sometimes a B3, and of course the grand piano. I purchased more albums on the Fantasy label, some on the Hammond and some of the Whitney Studios Robert Morton, which I also liked. He had many other concerts in the area. I saw him at the Swing Auditorium at the National Orange Show grounds, however he started playing the Conn theatre style organ. I didn't like the sound as much as I did the Hammond Organ. It tried to sound like a theatre pipe organ, but not close enough. He played at a Christmas party at the Palm Springs resident of Bonnie Creata on a 2-10 Wurlitzer pipe organ. Beryl and his two sons were there. In the 80s he played a concert at the California Theatre in San Bernardino. This was an organ that I had done some restoration work on prior. This was the last time I saw Korla. I have most of his 33 rpm albums, some Fantasy, some of his own labels. I have a VHS of the Snader 15 minute shows, and the DVD by Encores, as well as the VHS of the Phantom of the Opera. I more recently purchased the Remembering, Buried Treasure/Jaun Rolondo, and Odessey. I sure miss seeing Korla. He was very gracious and would always autograph albums or other memorabila. Thank you and Verne for keeping up the web site.
When I was in the fifth grade, my Mom and Grandma took me to see Korla Pandit at the old West Seattle Organ Loft. This was in the seventies, when playing the organ was not chic. I had recently learned to play the When I was in the fifth grade, my Mom and Grandma took me to see Korla Pandit at the old West Seattle Organ Loft. This was in the seventies, when playing the organ was not chic. I had recently learned to play organ, and I was pretty good at it, and my Gramma thought this would be a wonderful experience for me. My Dad of course, had an attitude about it, and was actually jealous of Mr. Pandit, as my mom had a crush on him when she ws younger, and had kept a signed photo of him, from a personal appearance at a music store. My Dad grabbed it and crumpled it up. My Mom straightened it out. It was a warm evening in May, and we stepped inside this very small theater with velvet drapes. Korla Pandit rose out of the depths on his beautiful organ bench with the beautiful, gold and white three manual organ, in a white suit, with his turban, I think it had a green jewel in it. He was a little bit older, than the photo, but he was brown and warm looking and smiled the entire time he played. I was dazzled. He made that instrument sing, and it seemed that he was really enjoying himself. I remember his accent, anouncing the song "The Rose of Denscanso" then he made the organ sound like birds, and then it was over too soon. My Grandma introduced me to him, and he was very kind, and he smiled and I still remember it. My Mom bought an album, that showed him in his younger years, and I played it over and over. There were songs like "Trance Dance" which sounded like snake charmers. There was the "English Music Hall Theme" which I learned to play by ear, as I did most of his songs. I used to entertain the relatives when they came, and I learned to do that gaze he had!! I really think that a lot of my style and showmanship, came from watching him. He really was wonderful. I will have to tell my Mom about the website. She adored him!! So thank you, Korla, for encouraging a skinny legged little girl to play music!!
Just wondering if you have a recollection of the above? Because as child living there in the late 50's and early 60's, I remember gazing at a small compact organ on a raised podium in a department store probably one Saturday afternoon, standing side by side with my younger sister. And the organ was unoccupied, so we stared at it and wondered who was going to play. Then I even went up and sat down to marvel at the keys and gadgets. And I really thought I was sitting next to something miraculous. Yet I didn't know how to make it work. Then as I left the seat of the organ to gaze upon it once more by my sister's side, a man appeared, dressed in all white apparrel with a turban on his head. And I felt that he was from some foreign land. As from India. And he stood so gently by my side, probably seeing how interested I was in his organ. And I believe I said something to him. Are you going to play? And his voice was a whisper. And I'm really not sure what he said. Just very calm and peaceful. With kindess. And from there he went to the organ and played. It was the sound of an organ. With no particular melody. Only music that filled the moment. So again, was this Korla Pandit?
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