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This week's artist is...VICKY LEANDROS!

By Krikor K.
March 25 2008. On March 25 1972 Luxembourg was celebrating its 3rd victory at the Eurovision Song Contest due to Vicky Leandros and the song "Apres toi". Don't you think this huge artist needs to be crowned as "This week's artist"?????

Vicky Leandros is the stage name of Vasiliki Papathanasiou. She was born on August 23 1952 in the area of Paleokastritsa of Corfu (Greece). Being the daughter of famous Greek musician Leandros Papathanasiou was something normal for her to become a singer. Her father wanted to expand his career and went to Germany while Vicky 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. Vicky's career spans five decades and spreads over the five continents. She is truly an international star with remarkable staying power. She revealed her talent at avery young age while taking guitar, music, dance, ballet and voice lessons. In 1965, just before her 13th birthday, she released her first single "Messer, Gabel, Schere, Licht" which was an immediate success. 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 and was disappointed but the song became an all-time classic and was a million selling single in all continents. This was the beginning of a unique career for her and her father as composer manager and producer. She was singing in eight languages with her albums, singles and EPs being sold all over the world. There were innumerable Top-10 Hits and sold out concerts as well as TV appearances. Not only did Vicky's record sales soar in Europe at this point but also in the Far East - particularly Japan - also her popularity in Canada was huge. Vicky toured extensively in all these locations.

In 1970 her first TV show "Ich Bin" which was broadcast in 13 European countries 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 many times 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 accompanied by visuals for marketing purposes it was years ahead of its time. Throughout the 1970s other film portraits by prominent film makers were to follow which attracted interest around the world. As well as this TV spectaculars and series were a regular feature all over Europe including Vicky's shows for the BBC "Music My Way".

In 1972 she represented Luxembourg at the 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 big hit in the UK reaching No.2 on the charts. Vicky recorded the song in seven languages. The total sales of the single have far exceeded 10 million copies. In 1972 Vicky was the top selling recording artist in the world and her Eurovision winner was the largest selling single in the world. Smash hits and a series of golden singles & albums followed including another multi-million selling single in 1972/3 with "Ich Hab' Die Liebe Geseh'n" which again hit all over the world in various language versions. Later in 1973 "When Bouzoukis Played" became yet another massive selling world hit in several languages. In 1974 she recorded "Theo wir fahr'n nach Lódź" a song that was a huge hit mainly in Germany but that also offered her many golden records around Europe. Vicky also achieved enormous sales volume in South Africa during the 1970s following her Eurovision victory. It is worth noting with reference to the ESC that Vicky has the two largest selling songs of all time which is an amazing accomplishment in itself. Vicky's French hits also sold well in the Middle East and in Madagascar!! Smaller markets but Vicky's popularity was enormous in many corners of the globe. Albums and compilations have been released due to popular demand in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Taiwan, India, Korea, Israel, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and many more. Meanwhile her fame in Asia reached its peak. In Japan she is a huge star and her records sell millions of copies. She sings in Japanese and produces albums especially for the Japanese and Asian markets. Her second Japanese single has broken every record as the company decided due to her fame to release 500,000 copies as a first edition of "Watashi no Sukina Chocolate"! ( I Like Chocolate ). She also had success with cover versions of songs like "Mamy Blue", "You don't have to say you love me" and "My Sweet Lord" among others. Universal records had to release a Best Collection CD four times from 1989 due to the big demand of the public even though Vicky had not appeared in the country for many years. In 1975 she released the album "Across the Water" in the USA that was recorded in Tennessee and Miami.After her American adventure she treated the market to albums of German Volkslieder, Christmas songs and even a Spanish album which became a success in Spain and all over Latin America. "Oh Mi Mama" was a hit but the second single "Tu Me Has Hecho Sentir" although not promoted by Vicky or CBS due to differences between the two and a reported health scare was a huge seller in Spanish speaking countries after a slow start in 1979. 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. The album brought her successfully to the 80s worldwide. This comeback was consolidated in 1982 by the success of the song "Verlorenes Paradies" which saw Vicky back in the upper reaches of the charts after a few years absence. Sung also in Dutch the success was repeated in the Benelux countries. In 1983 there followed another song specially for the Dutch-speaking market "Ver Van Het Leven". In 1984 the French version of this - "A l'Est d'Eden" saw a huge success (No.2) in France promoting sales of more than 1.5 million albums in France. The same disc and corresponding album gave Vicky a memorable comeback in Canada and she toured there after a gap of many years to a rapturous welcome in 1985. There were two more singles released from this album "VICKY" and both were also hits in Canada. Before returning to her private life in 1986 to raise her 3 children she made an album dedicated to her country Greece. It soon achieved Gold status in the Benelux and German speaking countries. She made a huge comeback in Greece in 1989 with the album "Piretos tou erota", "Prosexe"(91) and "Andres"(93) and in Europe in 1994/5 charting first with a solo single " Du bist mein schoenster Gedanke " followed by a duet with Tony Christie "We're gonna stay together". Since then she has toured very successfully and gained once again international acclaim. Other hit singles and albums followed. The resurgence of popularity in Greece saw first the re-release on vinyl of Vicky's early albums (with different sleeves) and later a CD release of them all plus bonus tracks of many singles (both A and B sides) which had previously never been on an album. Sales were phenomenal in Greece and as always many more copies were exported.

From 1995 to 1998 she collaborated with German hit-maker Jack White and released three Top-10 albums including the German version of the Titanic song "My Heart will go on". Many compilations and a 3CD box followed with songs from this era.
In 2000 she started producing her own records. The album "Jetzt" / "Now" was a big success and her own compositions were praised as the best ballads she has sung over the last decade. Her duet with Chris De Burgh was one of the highlights of that album.

In the meanwhile she featured again on the charts of several countries such as Canada, China, Japan, Belgium, South Africa and others due to the many Greatest Hits collections that several companies released.

In 2003 she recorded a new album with songs by Mikis Theodorakis accompanied by the Kamerata Orchestra under Theodorakis's supervision. The album became a big success in Germany, central Europe and in Greece too ("Tragoudi alliotiko"). TV stations and tabloid newspaper reviewers celebrated her comeback while other publications and reviewers questioned the rationale behind Vicky Leandros' performance of songs from a political composer like Mikis Theodorakis. Vicky Leandros has appeared in many TV shows on German and Greek television including galas for Jose Carreras. The album made it to the 100 best selling records of 2003 (released 29 Sept.) and Mikis Theodorakis wrote that " for her interpretations and work I consider her among the 2-3 most important interpreters of my work. " In 2003 Vicky received two very prestigious awards. One 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 her classical concert held at the Herod Atticus amphitheatre on 02 Oct 2003 and is the highest honour that the Greek Church can bestow. Vicky is one of only a very few to receive it and the only female ever.

Vicky 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 well-known composers and producers such as Kim Fowley, Leo Leandros, Brad Shapiro and Michel Legrand and also with conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and C. Denjean. She has been awarded with the "Bronze Rose of Montreux", "Golden Europa", "Record Award of USA", "Bronze Statue" (Japan) and many others.

Collaborations also with Jose Carreras, Chris De Burgh, Demis Roussos, Costa Cordalis, James Last, Johnny Hallyday, David Soul, Tony Christie, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Roger Whittaker, BBC Orchestra, Berlin Philarmoniker among others.

2005 saw the release of a 2CD "Ich bin wie Ich bin" containing many new recordings of classic Vicky Leandros songs. The album has been greeted with great enthusiasm as it contains tasteful updates of evergreens in a variety of genres and is testament to a many sided Vicky whose interpretations are ever fresh and young. The album has charted in Germany Austria and Switzerland. Vicky's Jubilee Tour of Europe started in Feb 2006. This will later spread outside European boundaries when Vicky will revisit many countries Worldwide which have given her success.

March 2006 saw Vicky sing in the German pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest - sensationally after 34 years since Après Toi. Needless to say millions of fans were hoping for her success and maybe even another world classic song via ESC participation. This was not to be as in spite of a great performance (under difficult circumstances) of her song "Don't Break My Heart" which had already entered the charts, Vicky failed to win the most votes from the televoting public. The show was hampered by technical failures and this contributed to a poorer overall sound to Vicky's rendition of her song. She could only hear her musical accompaniment and backing intermittently coming and going and was forced to abandon her ear-piece mid performance . Furthermore there was controversy concerning prior disclosure and opening of a voting line number - the one of the winning song - and lines were only open for a few minutes meaning that many people could not get through to vote . Following on from the Jubilee Tour there were concerts in Cyprus during 2006 . Then Christmas concerts through November and December as well as live appearances in Holland . Early 2007 sees the extension to the Jubilee Tour by popular demand .

Personal Life =
From 1982 until 1986 Vicky Leandros was married to Greek entrepreneur Ivan Zissiadis. He is the father of her son Leo (Born 06 Jun 80). In 2005 Vicky and her second husband Enno von Ruffin separated after 19 years of marriage. The couple has two daughters: Milana (Born 31 Jan 85) and Sandra (Born 06 Dec 86). On October 15th, 2006, Vicky Leandros (as Vassiliki von Ruffin) was elected town councillor of the Greek harbour town of Piraeus on the Pasok list. Vicky's task concerns the Cultural and International development of Piraeus . She is also Deputy Mayor of Piraeus .

Watch some videos of Vicky.-

L'amour est bleu - Eurovision 1967 / Luxembourg / 4th place

Apres Toi - Eurovision 1972 / Luxembourg / 1st place

Don't break my heart - German National Final 2006

My heart will go on (German techno version)


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