Who the Hell is Korla Pandit?
Korla Pandit – born 1921, was BIG in the 50’s. he recorded over 2 dozen LP (all on the Hammond or Pipe organ), had his own TV show – Korla Pandit’s Adventures In Music, appeared on various TV shows, films, radio and concerts. He was the king of the new medium called TV and pioneered the style of music that would become known as Exotica. In his later years as Exotica became popular again Korla would tour small theaters and concert halls with an occasional Pizza and Pipes gig for good measure. In 1994 director Tim Burton dug Korla out of retirement to play himself in his biopic of sensationally shitty director, Ed Wood in the film of the same name. Korla would pass away from a heart attack 4 years later at the age of 77.
But, who was the mysteriously mystic Korla Pandit? An ancient Indian musician (he claimed on occasion to be 2000 years old)? A gifted keyboard player w/ an exotic name and appearance? Well, it turns out that Korla Pandit was actually born John Roland Redd in an African-American family from St Louis Missouri. In the 1940’s he played for a few years under the name Juan Rolando to some success. In 1944, he reinvented his image, eventually replacing “Juan Rolando” with “Korla Pandit” and fabricating a romantic history for him as a baby born in New Delhi, India to a Brahmin priest and a French opera singer. A good story goes a long way.