Korla Pandit was one of the most amazing and talented organists that I ever met and it was an honor to perform several dual concerts with Korla in the 1960s,70s and 80s.
He was born in New Delhi, India. Actually in the early years I was his special guest and later years he was mine. We were great friends and we always enjoyed performing together.
Korla was a child prodigy. As a youngster he toured Europe, England and eventually America. Korla was a music major and graduated from the University of Chicago. In 1949 Korla gave the first all-musical TV program in Hollywood. Korla had his own west coast TV show and it was rated in the 10 best Hollywood produced television shows. His studio was the same as Liberace’s and Korla had the same agent, Mr. Seymour Heller.
Korla looked like the silent movie romantic lead Rudolf Valentino. In keeping with that image Korla never spoke on his show. He had a deep voiced announcer who introduced each performance. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. Although Korla had the looks and talent of a Hollywood matinee idol, television was a much more personal medium. You were an invited guest in the viewers home. Liberace was easy to know. Mr. Heller made Liberace his exclusive client and the rest is history.
Korla’s show was syndicated in a few major cities and he became a top draw when he performed live. Korla had a very nice speaking voice and in hind sight wished he didn’t try for the Rudolph Valentino image. When we performed together the most asked question was, “Is Korla married?”
Korla was a very gracious and kind person. It was always a joy to be his guest and a great honor for me to have him as my quest. At the Hollywood Sheraton Hotel ( In 1981 ) we played to approximately 1200 people and we closed the show with the Tommy Dorsey arrangement of Song of India. As they say “it brought the house down. We played 11 encores that night. Only one was rehearsed. The other ten were totally ad-lib and all I can say God, gave us both a fantastic night to remember.