Paul Korda Biography
Paul began learning classical piano at seven years of age, encouraged by
both his parents, being singers and song-writers, and began recording
his first work, a musical, at the age of nine. With the help of his
father, who was a bandleader, Paul recorded his first song demo, at
London's Tin Pan Alley studio, Regent Sound. The session before Paul,
was a young band recording “Satisfaction”, called the Rolling Stones.
Both Paul’s parents and grandparents were
professional singers, songwriters and accomplished musicians. In the
1890s, his grandmother, Florence Wright would sing the songs of one of
her family Lawrence Wright from a market stall in Leicester, to help
Wright sell music copies. Lawrence went on to create the foundations of
the English music business founding Chappell Music and the first music
newspaper Melody Maker. Florence and her husband, Tommy Lenner, who
played piano, took their 13 children, on tour as angels, at the
beginning of the Vaudeville era.
Paul’s father, Tibor Kunstler, was from
Budapest, Hungary, studied violin at the Franz Listz Conservatory and
voice at La Scala, Milan, and was picked up to play sax with Coleman
Hawkins, for the first US Jazz tour of the East. Take a listen to
from his MGM Records release in the early 1950s, ''Play Gypsy",
(Courtesy of MGM Records) and you may hear the style that many rock
guitarists have emulated since.
Paul’s mother, Shirley Lenner, was the lead in “Those Kids from Town”, a
US produced wartime movie musical. See her singing "Lullaby"
from the movie provided by the British Film Institute, shown by courtesy
of Paramount Pictures Inc. She also sang with Stephan Grappellis Hot
Club Quintet, Joe Loss, George Elrick and other prominent bandleaders.
His mother’s sisters, Judy Shirley and Anne Lenner, were well-known
singers, Judy hosting “Monday night at Seven” for the BBC, during the
second world war, and Anne, working with celebrated US composer Carole
Paul was born in Singapore, Malaya where his parents were playing two
different gigs, though they ended up in one! They returned to England to
live when Paul was nine months.
Tibor Kunstler and Shirley Lenner play
Singapores Raffles Hotel in 1948
Paul’s first record release, ”Go on Home” on EMIs Columbia label was at
the age of seventeen. At this point Paul began playing Sohos Folk club,
Les Cousins, alongside other friends, Sandy Denny, Cat Stevens, Al
Stewart, and many others. Also, while studying photography, Paul
ran Harrow Technical Colleges Folk Club, and was spotted by the manager
of Bluesology, a band formed by Elton John and Rod Stewart, who took him
to meet Beatles publisher Stephen James, and to introduce Paul to Elton,
or Reg, as he was known then!
In November 1967 Paul put a band together
with drummer Ron Berg, to open for a week at London's 7 1/2 Club, in
Mayfair. On December 1st, after doing
the sound check, the afternoon of opening night, the band was in
the dressing room, when there was a knock on the door. Noel Redding and
Paul had been friends for some time, having met at the Speakeasy, a
nightclub where everyone in music would go for it's unpretentious,
party-like atmosphere, and tremendous jam sessions. Noel had been going
on, about working with some black “geezer”, from the States.
Paul, without realizing the connection,
being high from the sound check, was confronted by the wildest looking
“geezer” he’d ever seen. Sporting a similar sized Afro as Paul, he
humbly asked if he could showcase to the English music biz, that night.
Paul, being impressed that this geezer had come all the way from the
USA, to play, and, as Paul was playing there the whole week, let him
have his opening night! That was the Jimi Hendrix Experience! Jimi,
grateful for the gig, referred to Paul as his soul brother, which made
Paul proud. “Hendrix was a master of letting go, and he very much helped
me to use that technique in both writing and singing. He certainly
amazed Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend and Eric Clapton, who all at the
same time, slid off their chairs to their knees, as Jimi 'got down' on
In 1967 Paul had been a songwriter for Rolling Stones producer Andrew
Oldhams, Immediate Music having penned Mick Jagger protégé P.P. Arnolds
single, “The Time Has Come”, that had made the UK charts, and the
Italian version "Se Perdo Te" recorded by Patty Pravo made number 6 in
Italy. Unfortunately, Paul, like so many Immediate artists, wasn’t paid,
and being a minor, repudiated the contract, after the managing director
took his new 12 string guitar, giving it to another writer.
Unfortunately, on December 17th Paul's
mother, Shirley Lenner died in an accident, which was a deep shock to
him. Vowing to continue his family's tradition in music, Paul found that
music, as so often it had done during painful experiences, helped him
grow beyond the pain.
Fortunately, shortly after, EMI offered
Paul a job as record producer. Jon Anderson was staying at Paul’s, when
Paul, arriving home from being offered the job, woke Jon up, to his
first record deal!
Paul’s production rhythm section included
the Small Faces, with Ronnie Lane, Ian McClagan and Kenney Jones on
drums. Being the youngest producer there, at a time when Abbey Road was
in full swing with the Beatles, Pink Floyd doing “Darkside of the Moon”,
Paul soaked up both the techniques and ingenuity of the times.
He signed young US singer
Andy Forray and took him to the “Hair” auditions, to assist his career.
Not only did Andy get a part, but Paul was asked to audition too! For
the fun of it, Paul sang Amen, and was offered a starring role, which he
at first declined, due to his other commitments. The producers were so
persistent, that Paul decided to do it!
Paul Korda (foreground) sings “Electric Blues” in the Original London
cast of “Hair” at Londons Shaftesbury Theatre. Backing him up are John
Gulliver, Rohan McCullough, Andy Forray, and Jimmy Winston.
1968 Harpers Bazaar (LtoR HAIR cast members Paul Korda,
Rohan McCullough, Marsha Hunt)
Paul’s focus then turned to
social issues, and in particular, the plight of Britain's Old Age
Pensioners, who were struggling to survive. He penned “Give Us the Right
to Live”, rehearsed and then recorded it with 20 OAPs, the eldest, over
80 years old, and Paul and his young musician friends, Mike Storey and
Roger Bunn, opened the Trade Union Congress at London's Albert Hall,
when the 3,000 strong audience, after hearing the chorus, once, began to
sing! (Give Me the Right to Live/Famous Records)
Give Me the Right to Live by the OAPS (Old Age Pensioners) recorded
from the radio.
Photo courtesy of the London Times
Photo courtesy of the Sunday Telegraph
-- April at the "Speak" --
Paul then formed, wrote and sang with Dada, sharing vocals with
Elkie Brooks, signing with Atlantic Records. When Paul decided to leave
the band to pursue his songwriting career, Robert Palmer took his place.
Paul went on to put a band together with the musicians who played on his
Passing Stranger LP, and with them played the famed Speakeasy Club.
The core of players that played the Speakeasy with him, included Onnie
McIntyre and Allan Gorrie (Average White Band) and guitarists Chris
Spedding, Andy Roberts and Ray Russell. The LP also featured a dynamic
trio of vocalists in Doris Troy, Nanette Newman and Madeline Bell, who
around that time were doing back-up vocals for the Rolling Stones.
After receiving good reviews, the record label withdrew the release
because they were told that Paul was still under contract to Immediate
Music, which wasn’t true. Fortunately, Paul's friends, which included
Mike McCartney (Paul's brother) and his compadres in the Scaffold, kept
Paul singing on their records.
In 1972, Paul went ahead to speculatively record a new LP
"Roots and Shoots"
with the musicians that soon
were to become the Average White Band, including drummer Robbie
Selling everything he owned Paul took the album to Los Angeles, and
within days a contract was drawn up by Warner Brothers Records. Yet
again, it turned
out that Immediate, who signed Paul as a minor, who, not only failed to
pay him, had also listed him as an asset to their creditors. The
creditors in turn called the record labels publishing company and said
Paul wasn’t keeping to his contract, and without asking Paul, the label
dropped the deal on the day Paul was going to sign!
A classic album was lost.
Returning to London, disheartened that, not only had he not been paid,
but was getting a bad reputation, Paul got legal aid and tried to prove
his case, while being unable to get work! During his 3 year fight to
prove he was not under contract, Paul had a song that was released in
France as a single, by Mike Brant, that stayed at No 1 in France for
disputed publisher said, if Paul gave them all the Immediate songs, they
would release him from ‘the contract’ and pay him on the No 1 in France.
So Paul exhausted by legalities, gave them the songs, and yet again he
wasn't paid. Of course now the record industry knows what it is like to
not get paid in the file-sharing issues, so it's all water under the
Fortunately, in 1974, Paul got a call from Roger Daltrey of the Who,
to ask Paul to come up with songs for his intended LP, “Ride a Rock
Horse”. Paul wrote 3 songs on the record, which reached the Top Twenty
in both the USA and the UK.
Paul took a chance and flew to New York to find a gig. He flew Nic
Potter over from the UK, and together with Daryl Peddiford, opened for a
week at The Other End. Out of the blue, a reporter from Variety, who was
there by chance, decided to review the gig!
Once the review was published, there were lines around the block, for
their next show, at JPs. In the audience, banging rhythmically on
ashtrays, were old friends Bad Company, who after the show, whisked Paul
off in a limo, to Miguel's, in Harlem, to witness the craft of Phyllis
Following the success of “Ride a Rock Horse”, Paul wrote the single for
Rogers following LP “One of the Boys”, entitled “Written on the Wind”,
which charted in the UK and Australia.
In 1977, Paul moved his family to Los Angeles. Within a month, he had
formed a band, and at their first show, he was offered a recording
contract, with major independent, Janus records.
He recorded the LP “Dancing In the Aisles” at the famed
Village Recorder, alongside old friends, Supertramp recording
“Breakfast in America“, and Poco, recording “Legends”, the studio was a
buzz with creativity ! “Dancing In the Aisles”, co-produced by veteran
rocker, Spencer Davis, hit number 4 on Billboard Magazines National
Radio chart, the first week of release, mainly due to a song being
played on New York’s largest station. The song was “Manhattan”.
Upon the albums release Paul played LAs Roxy Theatre, with a 12 piece
band, and kept Bruce Springsteen dancing at the front of the stage, for
the whole set!
Shortly after, unfortunately, the record company went bankrupt!
To overcome the problem of Janus Records’ demise, Paul sat down to write
the song that would change his situation. One morning he was working on
a song about a guy being arrested for siphoning gas, entitled “Out
of Gas”. While taking a break to listen to the local news, the
station reported that there was a serious gas shortage, with long lines
at the pumps! Paul called the station and told them about the song. They
asked for a copy, so Paul with the aid of a ghetto blaster and acoustic
piano, made a cassette and took it to them.
That night his song opened the headline news segment
on CBS TV. Paul, having no cash to record, contacted his friends from
Poco, and approached a studio. The song was recorded on Friday, mixed on
Saturday, and on Monday Paul was offered $15,000 for the rights, by RCA
The song was featured in Ted Koppels “History of America”.
photo: JAY PARTI
Listen to the LoFi version
of "Out of Gas"
Paul Korda: Vocal, guitar Charlie Harrison: Bass, guitar Steve Chapman:
Drums The Smogettes: Vocals
Night playing with the Passion. Peter Robinson, Steve Chapman, Mike
Miller, Lou Castro
(Art by Maxine Miller)
In the next few years, Paul formed several bands that
included guitarists John Goodsall (Brand X) and Mike Miller (Geno
Vanelli, Chick Corea), keyboardist J. Peter Robinson (Phil Collins),
drummers Steve Chapman (Poco), Ric Parnell and keyboardists David Kaf
(Spinal Tap), Merry Stewart (Nina Hagen) and bass player Lou Castro, and
the late Malando Gassama, percussionist (Al Jarreau). He also recorded
"In the Key of See" an unreleased album with Talking Heads engineer,
Jaynes Addiction & Mick Jagger producer, Dave Jerdan.
(In November 2009 is digitally released
on iTunes and other digital music sites.)
As two of his band, got the “Spinal Tap” band gig, Paul auditioned
and got a bit part in “This Is Spinal Tap”! Also, during this period,
Paul opened the famed Central Jam Night, for over two years, having such
artists as Phil Collins and Mitch Mitchell get up to play with him. The
same year Paul was awarded first place at the Japan Expo.
In 1985, guitar wizard Allan Holdsworth asked Paul to sing all the
background vocals on the title track of what became the Grammy nominated
“Road Games” LP, that also featured Cream vocalist Jack Bruce. Also
Allan played some epic guitar on Paul's track "Living in the Sky", a
timeless piece about life on a space station, that has never been
Paul then went on to co-write and sing “In the Mystery” for Allan's
indie hit “Metal Fatigue”, the follow up CD.
“It was an interesting project, for Allan needed lyrics and melody
for the session the next day, as, in two days, the masters were to be
pressed by the factory, for release in three weeks. I managed to write
it in two hours, sing it over the phone, and sang it in the studio, the
next day. I heard my track on KROQ about two weeks later. It was
quite a feat, especially being homeless, at the time!”
In 1988 Paul returned to London and opened a new venue in London’s
Highgate, booking his friend, Snowy White (Pink Floyds “The Wall”) as
headliner, and forming the support band with Malcolm Duncan on saxophone
(AWB), Paul's friend the late great Nic Potter (Vandergraff Generator)
on bass, and some singers from the Eurythmics.
Even Sting, who lived locally, and came to the show, was surprised at
what was going on in the neighborhood! Paul then went on to support
Snowy at one of the last shows of the original London's Marquee Club.
Following London, Paul moved to Orlando, Florida, and opened Major Music
Finding there were too many sharks, on land, there, he
returned to Los Angeles, and went on to write “Run for your Life”,
recorded and programmed arrangements for Frankie Valli and the Four
Seasons “Hope and Glory” album.
"Beyond the Darkness" greeting card CD
Shortly after, obtaining custody of his sons, Paul devoted his energy to
the plight of children affected by urban problems. He began teaching
inner city children, at a community center in East LA, to outlet their
frustrations through spontaneous musical creativity. Impressed by their
creativity, Paul got together with the choir of his sons school, the
32nd Street/USC Magnet school for the Performing Arts, and recorded
“Beyond the Darkness”, hoping to get funding through sales of the CD, to
finance education in this form of natural expression. “Being a
struggling single parent myself, I was amazed when Herb Alpert arranged
for us to record in the same studio, that “We are the World” was done.
Art by the late great Dave Fulkerson
The children loved it. A seven Emmy award winning director, Linda Yellen
helped with making the video, but the kids did wardrobe, make up and the
creative side of things. "Unfortunately we were not famous or rich
enough to get the push needed to make the record a success, but never
mind, it’s a timeless piece, and any sales of the track will still
contribute to the LA Unified School Districts Magnet Program for the
2001 saw Paul returning from London on September 10th, via American
Airlines, having turned down the ill-fated flight, via Boston, for the
following day. The next morning, he witnessed the 9/11 tragedy, and a
few days later, left LA for Vancouver Island, with the seeds of an idea
for a musical.
That musical has become “COMING TO”, a sort of modern day “HAIR”,
which is based around the need for awakening in the post 9/11 era. It is
about a composer who, breaking from his past, travels to a hostel on
Vancouver Island, where he finds hippies, hiphoppers, anti-globalists
and various other misfits trying to find their place in the world. The
composer writes their lives into a musical, when they sleep, they travel
to a “dream theatre” to rehearse as part of their quest to “Come To”.
Returning to LA, Paul recorded “Not for Robots”, and then went on to
work as the Governors dignitary, in the movie “Pirates of the
Caribbean.” On the last day of the 14 days, working on the movie, Paul
came up with the idea for a song, coincidentally called Pirates of the
Once written and recorded Paul submitted the song to Disney Music,
through old friend, and voice artist, Tony Jay, who worked on many
Disney productions. When there was no reply, Paul put it on his CD, as a
bonus track. Without warning, Paul awoke one day, in August 2003, to
find the song at No.1 in the UK MP3 Europop chart and No. 6 in the UK
2003, saw Paul working with Peter Mullen and John C. Riley, on the
George Clooney/Steven Soderbergh production, “Criminal”.
-- Going to inner space, anyone? --
And 2004 saw Paul as the museum director, in the movie “After
March 2005: Paul began working on the sequel "Pirates of the
Caribbean-Dead Man's Chest" in his former role as Governor Swann's
dignitary, and also in June, played Bohemian artist Pierre Fuquette in
the February 2006 release of "The Pink Panther" doing a one on one with
Steve Martin as the gendarme Clousseau bungling yet another case!
2006 sees "In the Key of See" finally being heard. Paul Korda, carried
the masters around with him for 25 years, in the hope that one day they
Sad to report the death of Paul's dear friend Tony Jay, whose voice
graced so many movies and computer games, from the evil Frollo in "The
Hunchback of Notre Dame" to the Supreme Being in "Time Bandits". As a
tribute to his art listen to Tony Jay's voice, speaking the treatment of
the Sci-Fi movie that Paul wrote called
"The Lost Chord". Tony Jay presented it to The Walt Disney
Company's animation department and Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks.
Paul, in turn, came up with the idea that Tony speak the lyrics over his
musical arrangements on "Speaking of Broadway", Tony Jay's CD.
October 2006 celebrated a reunion on the 38th anniversary of "HAIR"
the musical at Nickelodeon Studios, the former Aquarius Theatre,
Hollywood, and singing the great songs were International & US cast
members. HAIR author James Rado, was there, along with original producer
HAIR author James Rado and Paul Korda talking about the revolution at
the 38th "HAIR" reunion
Paul Korda joined with the cast of HAiR for the 40th Anniversary of
The Summer of Love at Golden Gate Park on Sunday September 2nd 2007. See
the Photos page for
Other than making a brief appearance as Garry, a
''black'' homeless man on the 2007 Holiday edition of ''My Name is
Earl'' entitled ''Bad Earl'', Paul recorded a new CD entitled ''Seeds'',
that includes his best work yet, and is now available as a download.
Also Swedish based H&M Clothing utilized the Paul Korda song "Something
Beautiful Happened" sung by PP Arnold for their 2007 holiday season
campaign with Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana gliding to the song, and
recently PP and Paul met up at the forum, prior to her singing with
Roger Waters at the Coachella Festival.
PP Arnold and Paul Korda met up at LA'sSeeds,
by Paul Korda was released on September 15th 2008
Forum in April 2007
"The Time has Come", originally recorded by PP Arnold, written by Paul
Korda and adapted in Italian as "Se Perdo Te" makes No. 1 on Italy's
iTunes chart and the Italian Top 5 in the Italian Nielsen album chart
FIMI, on Mango's album Acchiappanuvole in October 2008.
November and December 2009 sees the release of "Not for Robots", In
the Key of See", "Seeds" and "Early Years" Worldwide by
Amazon.com, iTunes, Play.com and many other digital music sites.
November 2009 "Se Perdo Te" makes the Italian Top 10
again in the Italian album chart on Francesco Renga's album.
2010 sees Paul doing a short scene with Brad Pitt for his 2011
movie "Moneyball" and go on to play a crazy bell ringing character in an
episode of "Victorious", Nickelodeon's hit show, and as a Jazz guitarist
on a new Comedy Central show debuting in 2011.
2011 began with the opening of the Tony Award winning cast of the
musical HAiR opening on January 6th at Hollywood's Pantages Theater,
that Paul attended.
2012 Paul assists UK CD Label RPM Records with the promotion and
re-release of his "Passing Stranger" album and
then begins the album project
"Living Life with Soul"
that includes the tracks "Living for the Show" and
"Feeling Those Feelings"
with saxophonist Allan Kroll, who played on "Seeds". Then Paul planned
his trip to England to continue the album with guitarist Chris Spedding,
who also worked on "Seeds", as well as to place his music with a
2013 sees Paul leave for the UK in March to arrive to the coldest winter
the UK had suffered since the late 1940's and suffers a setback becoming
sick while witnessing the stresses of the economic slowdown there, as
well as the depressed nature of many suffering the uncertainty of the
financial situation there. Not knowing how long the duration of his stay
there was to be in completing the album "Living Life with Soul", he had
given up his apartment in Los Angeles, as he couldn't afford to pay rent
in both places, so that when he returned to Los Angeles, due to all the
setbacks of illness etc., he was homeless. After suffering five weeks of
homelessness, accompanied by worsening health, he managed to get
situated and has done his best to recover from the exhausting experience
of the trip. Rather than succumb to the mental anguish he has gradually
begun to turn his focus around to sustaining his future and in 2014 has
completed a number of 24 track tape to digital transfers one of which is
a recording of a song called "Out in the Sun", a track he recorded with
film composer and former Phil Collins keyboardist J.Peter Robinson who
plays some astounding classically based piano on a song about the
invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada. He has also completed
"Don't Stop that Girl", a fun song recorded with the help of the
Chambers Brothers and Hunt and Tony Sales. He then went on to transfer
tracks from his "Dancing in the Aisles" album, including new
digital mixes of "Manhattan", "Child Free of Reason", and recently
completed "Living In the Sky" that he originally recorded with guitarist
So 2015 sees the new mixes being compiled and uploaded for HiFi quality
listening on Reverbnation and being prepared for release. "Living in the
Sky", having it's first mix, due to the lack of time to mix when the
song was originally recorded and the rough mix being the only one the
public ever heard since 1982. Now it is a result of 24 track tape to
digital transfer, the quality is truly "up there!". A new video that
should include some great space footage is in the works.
Please contribute to Paul's
future by buying a download from the home page via Reverbnation! Thanks
Paul Korda as Governor Swann's dignitary
“Pirates of the Caribbean-Curse of the Black Pearl”