Lanny Cordola has played guitar with members of Guns N’ Roses, Lou Rawls, Macy Gray and the Beach Boys. But his heart did not truly sing until he ditched the star-studded career, moved to Kabul and started an Afghan-style School of Rock.
“I wanted the coolest, biggest rock band in the world,” Cordola, 60, told The Post. “But it would be centered around war-torn poverty stricken kids.” It’s the ultimate “School of Rock” experience, he acknowledged, “with kids who have no idea what the ‘School of Rock’ is.”
Now, with his adopted city on the precipice of disaster, Cordola is in a rush to save his Miraculous Love Kids students. “I haven’t slept for two weeks,” Cordola said, calling from Islamabad, Pakistan. “I’ve been working to get [my students] out of Afghanistan. I feel a sense of urgency. These girls are in peril.”
Amping up the pressure is the fact that ISIS and the Taliban frown upon Muslim females playing Western music. “I focused on the girls because boys were not getting threatened to be married off at 14,” Cordola said.
Cordola flew to Islamabad on Aug. 14, intending to get his visa renewed and to promptly return. He wound up on the last commercial flight out of Afghanistan; one day later, Kabul fell.
From afar, he’s been marshaling resources to arrange escapes for the highest profile girls. Five times so far, they’ve planned on leaving, only to have their getaways fail.
“I had five girls ready to go today.” Cordola told The Post on Friday. “A billionaire guy had a plane for 300 people and [four students plus a translator] were set to be on it. They were going to go into the airport through a back entrance and needed to climb walls. It was a covert operation. I didn’t even know where the plane would be landing.”
But the flight was canceled. “Now the girls are back home with their parents,” he said. “They have to stay low-key. I told them to smash their guitars” — not in a Kurt Cobain-style frenzy, but in a desperate bid to destroy the evidence. “But the girls don’t listen to me so much. I think [the guitars] are hidden for now.”
Since 2014, through his organization, Miraculous Love Kids, Cordola has helped hundreds of young Afghanis to get off the streets — his non-profit pays them to play guitar — and to develop strong senses of self.
Brian Wilson, Sammy Hagar, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Nick Cave have all collaborated on songs with the Afghan shredders. Keifer Sutherland donated 15 guitars to the cause.
Prior to launching his guitar-fueled refuge, Cordola said, “I didn’t feel like I was living the life I was supposed to live. I got here and found what I was looking for. These kids rocked my world. They gave me a purpose.”