Pásztor László

Pásztor László
born 14.06.1945
guitar, vocals

1965-1972 - Neoton
1973-1976 - Neoton & Kócbabák
1977-1990 - Neoton Família
1990 - Új Neoton
László was singing and writing poetry since childhood, and by 14 he picked up guitar playing. In 1965 László, who studied at Budapest University, decided to enter a 4th December St.Nicholas Day student competition along with his friend Lajos Galácz. They formed a five-member band, naming it "Neoton" after Czechoslovak guitars they played at the time. ("Neoton" is sometimes translated as "new fashion/new sound" or "Newton", but both these translations are incorrect since Neoton doesn't mean "new fashion" in Czech or Slovak languages and Newton is spelt just like in English). László and Lajos played alongside bassist Gábor Kertész, keyboard player Pál Herrer and drummer István Tóth. The students were rehearsing their entry for several days, taking second prize in the competition. Theirs was a hearty team, so they continued playing for a while. December 4, 1965 is regarded as the day "Neoton" band was born since then. László had no idea that the band he got together as a part of student festive activity will keep existing for full 25 years, garnering worldwide success.

"Neoton" was one of the first Hungarian rock bands in fact, seemingly preceded only by the legendary "Illés" (1957) and "Omega" (1962). Young people were all about new trends and creative pursuits then so the lineup of the band László and Lajos founded kept changing, with only the founding duo continuing to be its backbone. "They get really shy on stage," Hungarian Youth Magazine wrote in 1966, "how are they supposed to conquer the audience if their knees are shaking that much?" In 1967 Fecó Balázs joined the band as a keyboard player, in 1968 Ferenc Debreczeni became their drummer, in 1969 Lajos Som took up bass guitar. All these musicians went on to become legends of Hungarian rock music scene, yet that was László Pásztor's band where they started their rise to fame. In 1968 "Neoton" won a "Ki Mit Tud?" TV talent show with a "Nekem eddig Bach volt mindenem" ("Bach is Everything to Me Still"); then came a successful single titled "Kell, hogy várj" ("You Must Wait", 1969) and "Bolond város" ("Silly City", 1970) album. László Pásztor composed all the music and the lyrics were written by a famous singer-songwriter István Nagy (born 1934), who also worked with Kati Kovács, "Omega", Zsuzsa Koncz, Sarolta Zalatnay, "Hungária", Péter Máté and other famous Hungarian bands and singers.

The legacy of the band László Pásztor founded could be divided into four periods: "formation" (1965-1973), "evolution" (1973-1978), "success" (1978-1983) and "commercialization" (1983-1989). During the formation period "Neoton" was actively collaborating with other Hungarian artists: in 1969 they performed together with young pop star Klári Katona, in 1970 they toured with "Omega" as a supporting act, and in 1973 they released a collaboration single with Judith Szűcs. The same 1973 year László Pásztor's attention was drawn to female trio "Kócbabák"; contacting the trio's leader Évá Fábián, he proposed a team-up for a "Tessék választani!" radio talent show entry. This act became a stepping stone in their long-term collaboration and subsequent evolution. Shortly before that a talented person named György Jakab joined Neoton as a new keyboard player, actively contributing in composing their new songs. The band's main hit song of that period, "Vándorének" ("Singing Wanderer", 1976) was composed by László Pásztor though. Its lyrics were authored by László's wife, Emese Hatvani, who had time to spare for this purpose while babysitting their firstborn daughter Patricia. Emese eventually began providing lyrics for the band on a permanent basis. She worked as a school teacher/psychologist, so her lyrics always steered clear of social issues or themes of rebellion and protest, favoring upbeat romanticism instead. Later the media would hail her as one of Hungary's finest lyricists. László kept being one of the band's lead singers, his voice graces such songs as "Párbeszéd" (1975; duo with Éva Fábián), "Te vagy a minden" (1975), "Mondj egy jó szót" (1976), "Vándorének" (1976), "Ha zene szól" (1977) and many others. 

When the band, now renamed "Neoton Família", signed a contract with Hungarian Record Company and came under the supervision of Péter Erdős, László Pásztor quickly became antagonized by this administrator, finding his band leadership constantly contended. For example, during one of the first auditions Péter demanded to replace Éva Csepregi out of discontent, so László went to defend Éva, insisting on keeping the current lineup. Péter Erdős agreed to keep Éva Csepregi in the band, demanding her to be more focused, more dedicated to her work and to get singing lessons in turn. In 1979 László also strongly opposed to Éva Fábián's expulsion from the band; he held her in extremely high regard but could not contend with the supervisor's will. The ultimate dividing line was drawn though in the course of conflict over Éva Pál whom László Pásztor regarded as the band's poster girl and lead singer. As Éva Pál left the band in January 1983, László Pásztor's leadership became a definite thing of the past and he pretty much receded into background, leaving important decisions to Csepregi/Végvári/Baracs trio. He took up a very sceptical stance on any decision made by the band after that, which eventually led to "Neoton Família"'s breakup in 1989. László also began participating in other music-related projects, such as producing a talented Hungarian singer Erika Zoltán, alongside playing in the band.

After the death of Péter Erdős in 1990 the band broke up forming two "clans" led by László Pásztor and Éva Csepregi. It even went as far as a court battle for "Neoton" name that ended with both sides retaining the rights to use it. After this court battle László Pásztor and his allies, keyboard player György Jakab, drummer Gyula Bardóczi and singer Éva Pál formed a band called "Új Neoton" ("New Neoton"). The same 1990 they founded their own record label Magneoton, headed by László Pásztor and István Joós. This label hosted Erika Zoltán, "Napoleon Bulvár", Róbert Gergely, "Edda Művek", "Rapülők", Jimmy, "Alvajárók" and many other Hungarian bands and artists. Magneoton went to become Hungary's top music label by 1992, being bought by Warner Music Group international record company the following year. In 1995 Magneoton acquired Aquarium recording studio which was the finest, most modern studio in Hungary at the time. In the late 1990s László Pásztor and his wife Emese Hatvani created a band called "Neo Tones" consisting of two Pásztor's daughters, Patrícia (born 1975) and Noémi (born 1983) and Jakab and Bardóczi's sons, György Jakab Junior and Gábor Bardóczi. The band recorded three albums, two of which contained cover versions of "Neoton Familia"'s famous hits.

By Mikhail Badanin
Translated into English by Andrey Sinelnikov