Vicky Leandros (Greek: Βίκυ Λέανδρος, born Vassiliki Papathanasiou, Greek: Βασιλική Παπαθανασίου, 23 August 1949, now legally Vassiliki, Baroness von Ruffin) is a Greek singer with a long international career. She is the daughter of singer, musician and composer Leandros Papathanasiou (known as Leo Leandros – composer pseudonym Mario Panas). She achieved worldwide fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972 with the song "Après Toi" (representing Luxembourg).
Leandros was born in Palaiokastritsa, a resort on the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Her father wanted to expand his career and went to Germany while she grew up at her grandmother's house until the age of five. 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 Leandros 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 many artists. She was shortly singing in eight languages with her albums, singles and EPs being sold all over the world. She became particularly successful in Japan and Canada.
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 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 an album, Across the Water in Tennessee and Miami. The album was a departure for her, combining country, rock and soul, gaining her good reviews on release in the US. In 1976 she signed a multi-million contract with CBS Records for albums in the US and started working in Hollywood with Kim Fowley. This did not last long however as Leandros felt a lack of support from her record company and returned to Europe.
After her American adventure Leandros released albums of German folk songs, Christmas songs and a Spanish album which became a success in Spain and all over 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 "Gruesse an Sarah" which is regularly still sung in concerts often acapella with the other musicians and vocalists making the sounds of the beats and instruments vocally to combine with Leandros' main vocal . Also 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 the success of her 1985 album "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 release "Ich Bin Ich" on which she worked with Klaus (Nick) Munro . This album contained many new rhythms and was more rock orientated . Leandros did not tour though and made very limited appearances during this period concentrating mainly on her family life and her ( by now 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 and charted highly in Greece with her comeback album, Piretos tou Erota.
In 1990 Leandros released the album "Starkes Gefuehl" (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 "Suchtig nach Geborgenheit" which was the first single cut . The early 1990s saw her scoring successful albums in Greece with "Prosexe" in 1991 ( Nur Einen Augenblick in Germany ) and "Andres" ( unique album for Greece ) in 1993 and in Europe in 1994/5 with singles "Du Bist Mein Schoenster Gedanke" and a duet with Tony Christie, "We're Gonna Stay Together".
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 she 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 Leandros 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 [his] work". In 2003 Leandros received two prestigious awards from the Greek government for her promotion of Greek culture and music abroad and the other from the Greek Orthodox Church in recognition of her work for poor children in Africa. The latter award was presented to her at a classical concert held at the Herod Atticus amphitheatre in October 2003 and is the highest honour that the Greek Church can bestow. Leandros is one of only a few to receive it and the only female.
2005 saw the release of a double album, Ich Bin Wie Ich Bin containing new recordings of Leandros's songs. The album charted in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Leandros' Jubilee Tour of Europe started in February 2006.
In March 2006, Leandros 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 made a collaboration work with German band Scooter. Track called C'est Bleu from Scooter's new album The Big Mash Up includes some words from Vicky's hit L'amour Est Bleu (in her performance).
From 1982 until 1986 Leandros was married to Greek entrepreneur Ivan Zissiadis. He is the father of her son Leandros Zissiadis (Leo) (born 6 June 1980). In 2005 Leandros and her second husband Enno von Ruffin 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). On 15 October 2006, Leandros (as Vassiliki von Ruffin) 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 under estimated the work load and time needed to fulfill her political obligations and that it had become impossible to combine those duties with her singing career .
Awards and collaborations
Leandros has received innumerable awards including gold and platinum records from all around the world for discs that have sold in excess of 150 million copies.
She has worked with many composers and producers such as Kim Fowley, Leo Leandros, Brad Shapiro and Michel Legrand and also with conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Claude Denjean. She has been awarded with the "Bronze Rose of Montreux", "Goldene Europa", "Record Award of USA", and "Song Statue of Japan".
In 2011, Leandros reprised her hit "L'amour est bleu" for the Scooter song "C'est Bleu" from their album The Big Mash Up.
Many variations of Leandros's albums were released around the world and a huge amount 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.
Date Album title Language
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) English/French
August 1968 Summertime Forever German/French/English
August 1968 Vicky (To Mistiko 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) English
April 1972 Vicky Leandros German/English
May 1972 Apres Toi French
May 1972 Mono Esi Greek/French/English
May 1972 Vicky Leandros English/French
May 1973 Meine Freunde Sind Die Traume German
August 1973 Itan Mia Vradia 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 Oreia Greek/French
February 1977 V.L. German/English
April 1977 V.L. Greek/English
April 1977 Vicky Leandros French/English
September 1977 Omorfa Chronia 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 1980 Singt die schönsten Deutschen Volkslieder German
April 1981 Ich Gehe Neue Wege German/English
October 1981 Love is Alive English
January 1982 Irtha Yia Sena Greek/English
October 1982 Verlorenes Paradies German
October 1983 Vicky German
May 1984 Vicky French
October 1985 Eine Nacht in Griechenland German/Greek
February 1988 Ich Bin Ich German
October 1989 Piretos Tou Erota Greek
September 1990 Starkes Gefuhl German/French
September 1991 Nur Einen Augenblick German
November 1991 Prósehe! Greek
February 1993 Andres Greek
October 1995 Lieben Und Leben German/English
April 1997 Gefuehle German
August 1998 Weil Mein Herz Dich Nie Mehr Vergisst German
February 2000 Jetzt! German/English
May 2001 Now! Greek/French/English/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
September 2010 Zeitlos German
^ IMDb. Other years are also provided: 1952 – Vicky's age by means of the Way Back Machine (Internet Archive) or 1948 – Bertelsmann Lexica.
^ a b c 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.
Official Homepage of Vicky Leandros
Greek Official Political Homepage of Vicky Leandros
German Homepage and Fanclub of Vicky Leandros
Official Homepage of Vicky Leandros′ daughter Sandra Ruffin
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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