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 ''Doina Kreutzer-Chiokerly" 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 Gibbons.
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 his guitar!"

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)
Listen to 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 McIntosh.

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 22 weeks!

The 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 bridge!

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 Hyman!  

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 Records! 
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 released.
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 Records.    

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.

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.
"Beyond the Darkness" greeting card CD
                                                                                 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 Performing Arts”.


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 Caribbean!

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 top 40!


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 the Sunset”. 

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 would be.
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 Michael Butler.
                       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 pictures.

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's
                                                                                                      Forum in April 2007

Seeds, by Paul Korda was released on September 15th 2008

"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, iTunes, 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 prominent publisher.

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 Alan Holdsworth.

 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 in 
“Pirates of the Caribbean-Curse of the Black Pearl”