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Vicky Leandros in Cologne, 2008
|Birth name||Vasiliki Papathanassiou|
|Also known as||Vicky Leandros|
|Born||23 August 1949 (disputed year of birth)|
|Origin||Palaiokastritsa, Corfu, Greece|
Vasiliki Papathanassiou (Greek: Βασιλική Παπαθανασίου, born 23 August 1949), generally known as Vicky Leandros (Greek: Βίκυ Λέανδρος), is a Greek singer living in Germany. She is the daughter of singer, musician and composer Leandros Papathanasiou (Greek: Λέανδρος Παπαθανασίου; also known as Leo Leandros as well as Mario Panas). In 1967 she achieved worldwide fame after gaining fourth place for the country of Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "L'amour est bleu", which became a worldwide hit. She further established her career by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972 with the song "Après Toi", again representing Luxembourg.
On 15 October 2006 Vicky Leandros was elected town councillor of the Greek harbour town of Piraeus on the Pasok list. Her task concerned the Cultural and International development of Piraeus. She was also Deputy Mayor of Piraeus. It was announced in June 2008 that Leandros decided to leave her position in Greek politics with immediate effect stating that she had underestimated the work load and time needed to fulfil her political obligations and that it had become impossible to combine those duties with her singing career.
Leandros was born as Vasiliki Papathanassiou in Palaiokastritsa, Corfu. Her father wanted to expand his career and went to Germany while she grew up at her grandmother's house until the age of eight. In 1958 her parents took her to Germany where she stayed with her father permanently after her parents' divorce. She revealed her talent at a young age while taking guitar, music, dance, ballet and voice lessons.
In 1965, she released her first single "Messer, Gabel, Schere, Licht". This was the beginning of a successful career for her with her father as composer, manager and producer. In 1967 she received an offer to sing for Luxembourg at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "L'amour est bleu". She finished in fourth place but the song became one of the biggest worldwide hits of the year and was covered by other artists. She was shortly singing in eight languages with her albums, singles and EPs being sold all over the world.
In 1970 her first TV show Ich Bin was broadcast in 13 European countries. It received many awards for its originality and thought-provoking contemporary graphics including in 1971 the world-famous Bronze Rose of Montreux. It was also the first time that Vicky used the same stage surname as her father (actually his real Christian name) and became known from then onwards as Vicky Leandros having been known simply as Vicky during the 1960s. Guests appearing were Julien Clerc and Deep Purple. The show has been repeated over the years and is seen as a classic piece very evocative of the era though at first it was not well received in all quarters owing to its surprising even shocking imagery in an age when songs were not generally accompanied by visuals for marketing purposes. Throughout the 1970s other film portraits by prominent film makers were to follow which attracted interest around the world. She later went on to host a television series in the UK for the BBC, entitled Music My Way.
In 1972 she represented Luxembourg at Eurovision for the second time and won the contest with the song "Après Toi". Translated into English as "Come What May" it was also a hit in the UK reaching #2 on the UK Singles Chart. Globally it sold over six million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Leandros recorded the song in seven languages. Later in the year she released her version of the Theodorakis composition "O Kaymos (Sorrow) (The Love in Your Eyes)" which became a hit all over the world in various language versions. It peaked at #40 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1973 "When Bouzoukis Played" became another massive selling world hit in several languages reaching #44 in the UK chart. In 1974 she recorded "Theo, wir fahr'n nach Lodz" a song that was a #1 hit in Germany. She also found much success in South Africa during the 1970s.
In Japan she reached her peak during the late 1960s and early 1970s and recorded many times in Japanese. Her second Japanese single "Watashi no Sukina Chocolate" (The Chocolate That I Like) became a notable hit. She also recorded many cover versions of songs, "Mamy Blue", "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" and "My Sweet Lord" among others.
In 1975 she recorded the album entitled Across the Water in Nashville, Tennessee, and Miami, Florida. A departure from her previous works by combining country, rock, and soul The release was well received by critics upon its release in the United States. In 1976 she signed a multimillion-dollar contract with CBS Records for albums to be released in the US market and started working in Hollywood California with Kim Fowley but soon returned to Europe after CBS' support faltered.
After returning to Europe Leandros released albums of various genres which included German folk music and Christmas songs. Her career showed signs of fading and she had her last top 20 hit in Germany with the song Kali Nichta. She recorded an album in Spanish-language that gained her attention in Latin America. The first single, "Oh Mi Mama", was a minor hit, but the second single "Tu Me Has Hecho Sentir” although not promoted by Leandros or CBS due to differences between the two and a reported health scare, was a big hit in Spanish-speaking countries in 1979  . It regularly appears on compilation albums and is easily the most famous and remembered song by Vicky Leandros in Spanish. A new album, Wie am Allerersten Tag went unreleased and Leandros became pregnant and took time off over the next 18 months.
In 1981 she recorded the album Love is Alive including duets with Demis Roussos, Johnny Hallyday and US star David Soul for a United Nations Benefit. Also in 1981 she released the album “Ich gehe neue Wege and its Greek version, Irtha Yia Sena. This comeback was consolidated in 1982 by the success of the song "Verlorenes Paradies" from the same titled next album which saw Leandros back in the upper reaches of the singles charts in many territories after a few years absence. It was also recorded in Dutch.
In 1983 came the album Vicky containing the popular song and single "Grüße an Sarah" which is regularly still sung in concerts often a cappella with the other musicians and vocalists making the sounds of the beats and instruments vocally to combine with Leandros' main vocal. Later in 1983 she recorded again in Dutch a song specially for the Dutch-speaking market; "Ver van het leven". In 1984 the French version - "A l'Est d'Eden" - was a big success in France reaching #2 on the singles chart. This single and corresponding album (Vicky) gave Leandros a notable comeback in Canada and she toured there after a gap of many years in 1985. Two more single releases from the album also became Canadian hits - "Tu as sept Ponts a traverser" and "Salut bien Sarah" the French version of "Gruesse an Sarah".
In 1986 following her 1985 album entitled Eine Nacht in Griechenland Leandros again took time off to concentrate on her private life. The album achieved Gold status in the Benelux and German speaking countries. It was early 1988 before the next album, "Ich bin ich", would be released. Working with Klaus "Nick" Munro, the album contained many new rhythms and was more rock- oriented than previous works. Leandros did not tour and made very limited appearances during this period concentrating mainly on her family life and her three young children. Nevertheless two singles were released from the album "Du hast schon laengst Goodbye gesagt" and "Oh Oh Oh" in a remixed version. In 1989 she returned to her music career in Greece and charted with her comeback album Piretos tou Erota.
In 1990 Leandros released the album "Starkes Gefühl" (Strong Feeling) which notably contained a new version of "Apres Toi" her Eurovision song contest winner of 1972. The album also contained the German version of “Piretos tou erota” now "Süchtig nach Geborgenheit" which was the first single cut. The early 1990s saw her scoring successful albums in Greece with "Prosexe" (1991), "Andres" (1993), and in Germany with the singles "Du Bist Mein Schönster Gedanke" (1994), and a duet with Tony Christie, "We're Gonna Stay Together" (1995).
The resurgence of popularity in Greece saw first the re-release on vinyl of Leandros' early albums (with different sleeves) and later a CD release of them all with bonus tracks. From 1995 to 1998 she collaborated with German hit-maker Jack White and released three Top-10 albums as well as the German version of the Titanic song "My Heart Will Go On". This song "Weil mein Herz dich nie mehr vergisst" gave Leandros her highest charting record since Verlorenes Paradies in 1982.
In 2000 Leandros started producing her own records. The album Jetzt / Now was a success and her own compositions received critical praise. Her duet with Chris De Burgh was one of the highlights of the album. Following this she featured again on the charts of several countries such as Canada, China, Japan, Belgium and South Africa due to the many greatest hits collections that several companies released.
In 2003 she recorded a new album Tragoudi Alliotiko with songs by Mikis Theodorakis accompanied by the Kamerata Orchestra under Theodorakis's supervision. The album became a success in Germany, central Europe and in Greece. TV stations and tabloid newspaper reviewers celebrated her comeback while other publications and reviewers questioned the rationale behind Leandros' performance of songs from a political composer like Theodorakis. Around this time she appeared in many TV shows on German and Greek television including galas with José Carreras. The album made it to the 100 best selling records of 2003, and Theodorakis wrote that he considered her "among the two or three most important interpreters of [my] work".
In 2003, she received two prestigious awards from the Greek government for her promotion of Greek culture and music abroad and another from the Greek Orthodox Church for her work for poor children in Africa. The latter award was presented to her at her classical concert held at the Herod Atticus amphitheatre in October 2003 and is the highest honour that the Greek Orthodox church can bestow. Leandros is the only woman to date to be awarded such an honor. 2005 saw the release of a double album Ich Bin Wie Ich Bin containing new recordings of her songs. The album charted in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Her Jubilee Tour of Europe started in February 2006. A month later she took part in the German pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 34 years since "Après Toi". Her song "Don't Break My Heart" which had already entered the charts failed to win the most votes from the televoting public.
Leandros released a CD in March 2009 titled Möge der Himmel. This album contained soul elements combined with some R&B flavour, hip hop and rap. The change in direction was headline news and the album received mixed reviews. The next album Zeitlos in 2010 returned to the idea born in 2008 of recording a collection of French songs and World hits in the German language. In 2011, she re-recorded her hit "L'amour est bleu" as "C'est Bleu" for the Scooter album The Big Mash Up. The unusual collaboration was named a highlight of the record and was released as a single on 2 December 2011. A new studio album with the title “Ich weiss, dass ich nichts weiss” was released on the Ariola (Sony) label in 2015 . The majority of the tracks contained were co-composed (music and lyrics) by Leandros. The themes of the songs are based to some extent on personal life experiences of the singer.
From 1982-86, Leandros was married to Greek entrepreneur Ivan Zissiadis, the father of her son, Leandros Zissiadis (born 1980). She married Enno von Ruffin, son of Freiherr Franz von Ruffin in May 1986. Enno von Ruffin has owned and managed his country estate, Gut Basthorst, since 1982. In 2005, Leandros and Enno separated after 19 years of marriage. The couple have two daughters: Maximiliane von Ruffin ("Milana"; born 31 January 1985) and Alessandra von Ruffin ("Sandra"; born 6 December 1986).
Awards and collaborations
Leandros has received various awards including gold and platinum records from all around the world for discs that have sold in excess of 150 million copies. She worked with many composers, producers and conductors. She was awarded with the "Bronze Rose of Montreux", "Goldene Europa", "Record Award of USA", and "Song Statue of Japan".
- 1967: Fourth place at the Eurovision with the song „L´amour est bleu“
- 1968: Goldene Europa
- 1971: Bronze Rose von Montreux for the TV-Show "Ich bin"
- 1971: Bronze Lion of the Radio Luxembourg
- 1972: First Place at the Eurovision with the song "Aprés toi“
- 1972: Best Selling Artist Internationally
- 1974: Goldene Europa
- 2001: Goldene Stimmgabel German pop
- 2001: Internationaler Schlagerpreis in the category of „Beste Künstlerin International“
- 2003: Hospitality Zeus
- 2005: Woman of the year in Greece
- 2009: Orinocoradio bubbling after hitsong "Theo wir fahr'n nach Lodz"
- 2011: Commander of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
- 2018: Orinocoradio bubbling after hitsong "Verloren zijn wij niet"
Many variations of Leandros's albums were released around the world and a huge number of compilations which still continue to be released on a regular basis. The following list is of original albums she recorded. In Japan, a few albums also contain some songs mainly in Japanese or English which were not released elsewhere though the majority of tracks were recorded in Europe and featured also in various languages on albums already listed here.
|October 1966||Songs und Folklore||German/English/French/Greek|
|July 1967||A Taste of...Vicky||German/French/English/Greek|
|October 1967||A Taste of Vicky International||English/French/Greek|
|October 1967||L'amour est bleu||French|
|October 1967||Love is Blue||English|
|July 1968||A Taste of Vicky
(First US release)
|August 1968||Summertime Forever||German/French/English|
|August 1968||Vicky (To Mystiko Sou)||Greek/French/English|
|December 1968||Le Temps Des Fleurs||French|
|August 1969||Ich Glaub' An Dich||German|
|October 1969||I Mikri Mas Istoria||Greek|
|October 1969||Zoom Sur Vicky||French|
|September 1970||Vicky (Je Suis)||French/Greek|
|January 1971||Ich Bin||German/French/Greek|
|February 1971||Vicky (Pes Mou Pos Boreis)||Greek/French|
|March 1971||I Am
(First UK release)
|April 1972||Vicky Leandros||German/English|
|May 1972||Apres Toi||French|
|May 1972||Mono Esy||Greek/French/English|
|May 1972||Vicky Leandros||English/French|
|May 1973||Meine Freunde Sind Die Traume||German|
|August 1973||Itan Mia Vrathia||Greek/English|
|September 1973||Dreams Are Good Friends||English/French/Greek|
|September 1973||Ceux Que J'aime||French/Greek|
|July 1974||Mein Lied Fur Dich||German/English/Greek|
|August 1974||My Song for You||English/Greek|
|October 1974||Ma Chanson Pour Toi||French/English/Greek|
|December 1974||Your World - My World||English/Greek|
|August 1975||Ich Liebe Das Leben||German/English|
|September 1975||Across the Water||English|
|September 1975||J'aime La Vie||French|
|January 1976||I Zoi Einai Oraia||Greek/French|
|April 1977||Vicky Leandros||French/English|
|September 1977||Omorfa Xronia||Greek/English|
|October 1977||Du Du Liegst Mir Im Herzen||German|
|October 1977||Suesser Die Glocken Nie Klingen||German|
|February 1978||Vicky Leandros (Recorded in USA)||English|
|March 1978||Ich Bin ein Mädchen||German/English|
|April 1978||Poso S'agapo||Greek/French/English|
|October 1978||Oh Mi Mama||Spanish/English/Greek/German|
|October 1979||Singt die schönsten Deutschen Volkslieder||German|
|April 1981||Ich Gehe Neue Wege||German/English|
|October 1981||Love is Alive||English|
|January 1982||Irtha Gia Sena||Greek/English|
|October 1982||Verlorenes Paradies||German|
|October 1985||Eine Nacht in Griechenland||German/Greek|
|February 1988||Ich Bin Ich||German|
|October 1989||Pyretos Tou Erota||Greek|
|September 1990||Starkes Gefuehl||German/French|
|September 1991||Nur Einen Augenblick||German|
|October 1995||Lieben Und Leben||German/English|
|August 1998||Weil Mein Herz Dich Nie Mehr Vergisst||German|
|October 2001||Mit Offenen Armen||German/Greek/English|
|November 2002||Weihnachten mit Vicky Leandros
|September 2003||...Singt Mikis Theodorakis||German/Greek|
|December 2003||Tragouthi Alliotiko||Greek/English|
|March 2006||Ich Bin Wie Ich Bin||German/French/English|
|March 2009||Möge der Himmel||German/English/French|
|October 2015||Ich weiß, dass ich nichts weiß||German|
- "Vicky Leandros - Biografie WHO'S WHO". whoswho.de.
- 1952 per her official website; confirmed per lawyer (bildblog.de); article about her 60th birthday in 2012 , and as per Archived January 28, 2003, at the Wayback Machine
- Vicky Leandros bio Archived 2014-02-27 at the Wayback Machine, vickyleandrosonline.eu; accessed 24 February 2014.
- Seeking out more about the 1972 contest?, Eurovision.tv, Retrieved 22 August 2016
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 315. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 315. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "'The world music charts ' Quote". The world music charts.