Scott Simon

From Ground Zero in New York to ground zero in Kabul, to police stations, subway platforms, and darkened theaters, NPR's Peabody-Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.

Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns and eight wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. In 2002, Simon took leave of his usual post at Weekend Edition Saturday to cover the war in Afghanistan for NPR. He has also reported from Central America on the continuing wars in that region; from Cuba on the nation's resistance to change; from Ethiopia on the country's famine and prolonged civil war; from the Middle East during the Gulf War; and from the siege of Sarajevo and the destruction of Kosovo.

Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting. His work was part of the Overseas Press Club and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards NPR earned for coverage of Sept. 11 and its aftermath. He was part of the NPR news teams that won prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for covering the war in Kosovo as well as the Gulf War. In 1989, he won a George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly radio essays. The award commended him for his sensitivity and literary style in coverage of events including the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador and the San Francisco earthquake. Simon also accepted the Presidential End Hunger Award for his series of reports on the 1987-1988 Ethiopian civil war and drought. He received a 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his coverage of racism in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, and a 1986 Silver Cindy for a report on conditions at the Immigration and Naturalization Service's detention center in Harlingen, Texas.

Simon received a Major Armstrong Award in 1979 for his coverage of the American Nazi Party rally in Chicago, and a Unity Award in Media in 1978 for his political reporting on All Things Considered. He also won a 1982 Emmy for the public television documentary The Patterson Project, which examined the effects of President Reagan's budget cuts on the lives of 12 New Jersey residents.

Simon has been a frequent guest host of the CBS television program Nightwatch and CNBC's TalkBack Live. In addition to hosting Weekend Edition Saturday, Simon has appeared as an essayist and commentator on NBC's Weekend Today and NOW with Bill Moyers. He has hosted many public television programs, including "Voices of Vision," "Life on the Internet," "State of Mind," "American Pie," "Search for Common Ground," and specials on privacy in America and democracy in the Middle East. He also narrated the documentary film "Lincoln of Illinois" for PBS. Simon participated in the Grammy Award-nominated 50th anniversary remake of The War of the Worlds (co-starring Jason Robards), and hosted public television's coverage of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Simon has hosted the BBC series Eyewitness, which was seen in the United States on the Discovery Channel, and a BBC special on the White House press corps. Simon was also a featured co-anchor of PBS's millennium special broadcast in 2000.

Simon has written for The New York Times' Book Review and Opinion sections, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, the Los Angeles Times, and Gourmet Magazine.

The son of comedian Ernie Simon and actress Patricia Lyons, Simon grew up in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Cleveland, and Washington, DC. He attended the University of Chicago and McGill University, and he has received a number of honorary degrees.

Simon's book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000 by Hyperion, a division of Disney. It topped the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list for several weeks, and was cited as one of the best books of the year in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several other publications. His second book, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, kicked off the prestigious Wiley Turning Points series in September of 2002, and was the Barnes & Noble "Sports Book of the Year." Simon's first novel, Pretty Birds, about female teenaged snipers in Sarajevo, was released in May 2005 and acclaimed as "the start of a brilliant new career." His most recent novel, a political comedy called Windy City, was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.

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10:35am

Sat November 10, 2012
Simon Says

Making A Case For Closer Contact In Congress

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 2:32 pm

From left, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) await President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2011, when a bipartisan seating arrangement symbolically suggested a more cooperative spirit among lawmakers.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Gridlock is the term many use to describe what happens when legislation gets stalled in the U.S. Congress.

But gridlock suggests that people in Congress at least run into each other. I've had enough casual, personal conversations with representatives in both parties in recent years to begin to think a more critical problem might be that politicians of opposing parties are almost strangers to each other.

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7:55am

Sat November 3, 2012
Simon Says

Emergency Workers Heroes Even Before Sandy

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 4:23 pm

First responders rescue flood-stranded people from a sodden neighborhood in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.
Craig Ruttle AP

On Halloween night this week, millions of children tumbled into their neighborhoods dressed as Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, Bat Girl and Wonder Woman. But that night, true superheroes were at work in uniforms, not costumes.

They were firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and ordinary citizens in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and elsewhere who gave brave and extraordinary efforts to protect and rescue their families and neighbors. They risked their lives for strangers.

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7:55am

Sat November 3, 2012
NPR Story

The Political Middle: What Ohioans Have To Say

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 10:48 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's already starting to rain over northern Ohio this past weekend as the outer whirls of Hurricane Sandy approached. Just a few days before the election, people in Reminderville, the village of about 3,000, were concerned about turnout.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hey, what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hi.

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8:44am

Sat October 13, 2012
Simon Says

The Pirate Prince Of Sealand, Remembered

Originally published on Sat October 13, 2012 12:58 pm

British pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates with his wife, Joan, and daughter, Penny, in 1966.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Paddy Roy Bates, the self-proclaimed prince of Sealand, was almost 80 when I met him in the summer of 2000. He was silvery and straight-backed — very much the model of a modern major, which he was in the British Army during World War II, when he survived frostbite, malaria, snakebites and a German bomb that shattered his jaw so badly a surgeon told him no woman would ever love him. So he married a former beauty queen named Joan and made her the princess of Sealand.

Let me explain.

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8:05am

Sat October 6, 2012
Simon Says

Does Voting Early Prompt Hasty Choices?

Originally published on Sat October 6, 2012 7:55 pm

Voters cast their ballots during early voting in Bowling Green, Ohio. Early voting began Oct. 2 in the battleground state, five weeks before Election Day on November 6.
J.D. Pooley Getty Images

Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.

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7:43am

Sat September 29, 2012
Simon Says

Jimmy Hoffa: Still Searching. Still Waiting.

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 4:28 pm

James Hoffa was last seen in the parking lot of a Detroit restaurant in 1975
CT AP

Police outside Detroit dug up a spot under a driveway yesterday and took some soil samples. No official findings have been announced.

An unidentified man recently told police he saw a guy bury something there in the summer of 1975 shortly after Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, and after he was supposed to have lunch with Tony Provenzano, a Teamster officer, and Tony Jack Giacalone, a Detroit mobster, at the Machus Red Fox restaurant.

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10:35am

Sat September 22, 2012
Simon Says

The Emoticon Turns 30, Seems Happy About It :-)

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 11:33 am

The emoticon turns 30 this week.
iStockphoto.com

The emoticon, punctuation to depict a facial expression, began 30 years ago this week. Using three keystrokes, the colon, dash and parenthesis, to suggest a smile may not be a great scientific advance, like the coronary stent or computer chip. But the emoticon has been simple, useful and enduring.

There had been previous hints of emoticons. A newspaper transcript of Abraham Lincoln drawing a laugh in 1862 follows it with a semi-colon and parentheses, but that may have simply been a printer's typo.

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5:58pm

Fri August 31, 2012
Simon Says

Without A Career, How Do We Know Who We Are?

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 3:31 pm

Are we what we do?

A lot of Americans identify themselves by their work. It's often how we introduce ourselves or describe our friends and parents: "I'm a police officer." "I'm a spot-welder." "My dad was a druggist." "My mom was a teacher." "My wife is a pilot." "My friend is a firefighter." "I sell insurance."

Our work has been a kind of identity stamp, defining us as much as our last name or place of birth. As Studs Terkel wrote in his 1974 classic, Working, "Our jobs give us daily meaning as well as daily bread."

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6:31am

Sat August 18, 2012
Simon Says

If Politicians Went On Vacation, We'd All Get A Break

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 9:58 am

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan holds up a Green Bay Packers jersey during a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair.
Steve Pope Getty Images

If you toss a corn dog at a state or county fair this summer, you may bonk a politician.

Congress is in recess, but for politicians, it's not recess of the kind they have in grade school. Many pols, especially in a close election year, spend the summer shaking hands at meet-and-greets. They cock their heads to pay rapt attention during listening tours and community meetings, raise money, make speeches, hurl charges, countercharges and ask for votes.

Does that sound refreshing?

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6:21am

Sat July 28, 2012
Around the Nation

Gang Violence Smolders On Hot Chicago Streets

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 6:12 pm

The Chicago police gang enforcement unit makes an arrest after stopping a car with four suspected gang members in June.
Robert Ray AP

This has been a summer of blood, sweat and tears in Chicago. The city has been scorched by historic heat, and the homicide rate has soared. When the sun goes down behind the glimmering lakeshore skyline, blocks on the South and West Side of the city can ring with shots and sirens.

The streets of neighborhoods like Englewood, Grand Crossing and Garfield Park are empty, even during the day. In the middle of this summer, it is rare to see a child ride a bike or walk a dog.

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8:09am

Sat June 23, 2012
Simon Says

Behind The 'Model Minority,' An American Struggle

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 1:43 pm

A Pew Research Center study shows Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S., but that doesn't make theirs a success story.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Pew Research Center says Asian-Americans are now the fastest-growing ethnic and immigrant group in the United States: 18 million Americans, almost 6 percent of the population. Pew says Asian-Americans also tend to be the most educated and prosperous.

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10:58am

Sat June 9, 2012
Simon Says

When A Job Interview Turns Into Psychoanalysis

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 10:17 am

Why should someone who wants a job have to confide their fears and flaws to judgmental strangers?
Royal Five/iStockphoto.com

What is your greatest weakness? And is that really any of my business?

Dear Lucy, the workplace advice column written by Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times, ran a letter this week from a 52-year-old unemployed male.

"I've just been asked in a job interview to name my greatest weakness," he said. "I hummed and hawed for a bit and then said something like, 'Why don't you ask my wife?' I didn't get the job."

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8:35am

Sat June 2, 2012
Simon Says

Just Deserts Follow Attempted Pasty Tax

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 2:39 pm

Protesters gather outside Downing Street in London to deliver a petition against the so-called "pasty tax," a government bid to levy 20 percent tax on hot takeaway food.
Justin Tallis AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes, politicians eat their words. This week, the British government reversed course on a plan to place a 20 percent tax on all foods sold hot — with no exemption for pasties.

Pasties are hand food, baked for Cornish miners to eat when they could put aside their pickaxes. People eat pasties today as they sit on a bench for a few minutes' respite or walk along the street between chores. They have become comfort, convenience, pub-crawling and football-watching food.

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8:07am

Sat May 12, 2012
Opinion

Can A Change Of Heart Beat The Flip-Flop Charge?

Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 2:46 pm

President Barack Obama told ABC this week that he supports gay marriage.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Most Americans give politicians low marks for sincerity and see every decision they reach as a cold, poll-driven calculation. Often enough, it is. Politicians, after all, have asked pollsters where they should spend their summer vacations.

Yet when pundits and interest groups urge politicians to change their minds and they do, they're assailed for flip-flopping.

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7:11am

Sat May 5, 2012
Remembrances

Adam Yauch Gave Distinct Sound To Genre-Bending Band

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 10:26 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A famous trio has lost a member. Whether you knew him as Adam Yauch, Nathanial Hornblower or MCA, he brought a distinct sound to a genre-bending band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

BEASTIE BOYS: (Singing) ...if what you get is what you see, c'mon...

SIMON: MCA was a founding member of the Beastie Boys, a band that helped make hip-hop mainstream. Now, before they rapped, the Beastie Boys were just punks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIME FOR LIVIN' ")

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10:19am

Sat April 21, 2012
Simon Says

Prostitution's Real Casualties Aren't Secret Service

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 10:46 am

Six U.S. Secret Service agents have lost their jobs so far after a prostitution scandal that took place at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, just before President Obama's arrival at the Summit of the Americas conference earlier this month.
Manuel Pedraza AFP/Getty Images

I've been curious about a question I haven't heard in the stories about U.S. Secret Service agents misbehaving before President Obama's arrival at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Why were world leaders meeting in a place with legalized prostitution?

There might have been a time — after I saw Toulouse-Lautrec's poignant paintings of life in Paris brothels, or Billy Wilder's clever Irma la Douce — when I thought of prostitution as a harmless enterprise between consenting adults.

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7:41am

Sat April 21, 2012
From Our Listeners

A Clarification: No First-Class Flying Here

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 10:46 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A small clarification now: A few weeks ago on this program, Tom Goldman told us that he was about to catch a flight to Denver to cover the NCAA Women's Basketball championships. I joked: By the way, United Airlines, if you're listening, please upgrade Mr. Goldman - our compliments.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: I'm already first-class.

SIMON: In all ways, my friend.

GOLDMAN: Oops, did I say that?

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6:26am

Sat April 21, 2012
Around the Nation

'A Chance To Start Over': Wounded Vets Ride Again

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 3:39 pm

Brothers Deven (left) and Erik Schei ride by President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House as part of the sixth annual Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride on Friday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

A group of military veterans has been riding bikes this week in and around Washington, D.C. Many of the bikes have been reconfigured so that soldiers who lost limbs and suffered wounds in war could feel the power in their grace and the wind in their faces.

They joined the annual, four-day Soldier Ride, held in cities across the country and organized by the Wounded Warriors Project.

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9:26am

Sat March 31, 2012
Simon Says

Beef, Tarantula And Gout: Food Critics Suffer, Too

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 2:26 pm

Food professionals will tell you: Eating asks a lot of your body.
iStockphoto.com

Burp!

'Scuse me, but is someone trying to kill off food critics?

What about themselves?

Frank Bruni, the former restaurant critic of The New York Times, now an op-ed columnist, has revealed that he has gout.

Gout is a painful inflammation of the joints that's been called the King's Disease because it's historically associated with the kind of gluttony only kings could afford: profuse servings of beef, lobster, goose liver and strong drink.

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8:57am

Sat March 10, 2012
Simon Says

Actress Sues IMDB, But It's Internet Privacy On Trial

Originally published on Sat March 10, 2012 1:49 pm

Actress Junie Hoang is going to court because her IMDB profile reveals her age.
IMDB

I hope it's not ungentlemanly to note that Junie Hoang is 40 years old. Her birth date appears in the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb, as does the fact that she has played a headless woman in Domain of the Damned and Ms. Fix-It in Voodoo Dolly.

She doesn't sound like a woman to cross.

Junie Hoang is going to court against IMDb, which is owned by Amazon, because it reveals her age in her entry. She believes that could cost her work.

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8:57am

Sat March 3, 2012
Simon Says

Politics Gets Dirtier: Attack Ad Goes After Cat

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 1:38 pm

Not even pets can hide from the political caterwauling; a superPAC has attacked the candidacy of Hank the Cat.
YouTube

8:00am

Sat March 3, 2012
Sports

Bounties Uncovered: Paying For Pain In The NFL

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 10:48 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A National Football League investigation revealed yesterday that the New Orleans Saints had a bounty program. Players were paid bonuses off the books for putting game-ending hits on opposing players. The NFL says bounties were paid for the past three seasons, including 2009 when the Saints won the Super Bowl. Defensive players were offered $1000 for a cart off - an injury so bad a player would be carted off the field - and $1,500 for a knockout, which needs no explanation.

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8:00am

Sat February 25, 2012
Simon Says

Other People's Atrocities: None Of Our Business?

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 5:18 pm

Protesters demonstrate against Foxconn, which manufactures Apple products in China, outside an Apple retail outlet in Hong Kong.
Antony Dickson AFP/Getty Images

Events as disparate as the cruel, escalating violence in Syria and the congested, unnerving conditions where Apple's iPads and iPhones are made at the Foxconn assembly plants in China raise a recurring question:

When do a country's internal affairs become the business of the world? And when do we make that our personal business?

You can take that question back through atrocities, crimes and outrages of recent history.

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8:19am

Sat February 18, 2012
Simon Says

John Glenn, A Hero Well Before Orbiting Earth

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 3:29 pm

Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn demonstrates operations inside a Mercury capsule on Jan. 11, 1961.
AP

Fifty years ago, John Glenn was alone on top of a rocket waiting to blast into space and around the Earth. In these times, when people can become suddenly famous for doing so little, it may be good to recall the daring and imagination of that moment on Feb. 20, 1962.

Two Russians, Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov, had already dauntlessly orbited the Earth. The Soviets kept their missions secret until they were under way, but John Glenn would fly with the eyes of the world watching every second.

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7:16am

Sat February 18, 2012
The Salt

At Gates Bar-B-Q, The Ultimate Flavor Lies in Burnt Ends

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 11:54 am

The brisket and ribs are on the fire at Gates Bar-B-Q for ... as long as it takes.
Tom Bullock NPR

How do you know you're in Kansas City, Missouri? Follow the smoke, and listen for this:

"Hi, may I help you?"

At the famed Gates Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, "May I help you?" is a kind of mantra.

It's how people standing in front of the barbecue pits greet all who walk in the door, while ribs, brisket, turkey, and for all I know, pillow stuffing sizzle, pop, and get saturated with smoke and the signature sauce of Ollie Gates, the barbecue master.

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8:54am

Sat February 11, 2012
Simon Says

Ralph Nader's $2,680 Airplane Aisle Seat

When Americans traveled by stagecoach, they had to worry about rocks, rattlesnakes, robbers and other varmints. But I wonder if there weren't fewer passenger complaints.

Ralph Nader is not running for president this year. But he's giving a couple of speeches in Dallas this weekend and booked an American Airlines flight a couple of weeks ago for a $750 fare.

The flight takes three hours. Mr. Nader is 6 feet, 4 inches tall. His longtime travel agent tried to select an aisle seat, which is more comfortable for Mr. Nader. Probably for whoever might be next to him, too.

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6:55am

Sat January 7, 2012
Opinion

Iowa, New Hampshire: Small States With Big Roles

Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographic snapshots of America. They are smaller, less diverse and more rural than California, New York or Illinois, which have a lot more votes.

But Iowa and New Hampshire win a lot of attention early in an election year. As an old political columnist, now departed, once told me over the din of clinking cups in an Iowa diner, "If the first presidential caucuses were in Hawaii, congress would give federal subsidies to make gasoline out of pineapples."

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8:00am

Sat December 24, 2011
Simon Says

How Much Is That Purple Heart In The Window?

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 8:38 am

There's a Purple Heart in the window of the A-Z Outlet pawnshop in Holland, Mich., right between a silver necklace and an inexpensive watch.

Bryan VandenBosch says a young man walked into his shop just before Thanksgiving to pawn a medal that the U.S. government awards to soldiers who have been "wounded or killed in any action" while serving.

He says that he doesn't know why the young man needed or wanted to pawn his medal.

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7:36am

Sat December 17, 2011
Simon Says

Christopher Hitchens And The Delight Of Defying Labels

It may be telling that Christopher Hitchens should die in this season. I don't mean the holiday season but a contentious season in Congress and on the campaign trail, with politicians jabbing fingers and accusing each other of inconsistency.

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10:09am

Sat December 10, 2011
Simon Says

Laura Nyro's Lasting, Eclectic Musical Legacy

Laura Nyro performs at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Most of the names announced for induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this week are familiar: Guns N' Roses, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The name Laura Nyro may need some explaining.

She was the daughter of a New York jazz trumpeter, who took her along to his gigs. She sold her first song, And When I Die, to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000 when she was just a teenager; left New York's School of Music and Art; and became a star at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the age of 20.

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