Vicky Leandros (born Vassiliki Papathanasiou, 23 August 1949, now legally Vassiliki 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 "Apr?s 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 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. She revealed her talent at a young age while taking guitar, music, dance, ballet and voice lessons.
In 1965 Vicky 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 "Apr?s Toi". Translated into English as "Come What May" it was also a big hit in the UK reaching No.2 on the charts. 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. In 1973 "When Bouzoukis Played" became another massive selling world hit in several languages. In 1974 she recorded "Theo wir fahr'n nach L?d?" a song that was a number one chart hit in Germany . She also found much success in South Africa during the 1970s.
In Japan she reached her peak during late 1960s and into the 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 went on to record 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 Vicky 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 moderate 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 big hit in Spanish-speaking countries in 1979. 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. In 1983, she recorded 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 No.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.
In 1986 Leandros again took time off to concentrate on her family, now consisting of three children, after recording an album dedicated to her native Greece. It soon achieved Gold status in the Benelux and German speaking countries.
In 1989 she returned to her music career and charted highly in Greece with her comeback album, Piretos tou Erota.
The early 1990s saw her scoring successful albums in Greece with "Prosexe" in 1991 and "Andres" 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 Vicky's 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".
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 Jos? 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 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 ever.
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. Vicky's 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 "Apr?s Toi". Her song, "Don't Break My Heart" which had already entered the charts, 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. Her performance of the song was hampered by technical difficulties, leading her to abandon her ear-piece mid-performance.
Leandros released a new CD in March 2009 titled M?ge der Himmel.
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 Vicky and her second husband Enno von Ruffin separated after 19 years of marriage. The couple had two daughters: Maximiliane von Ruffin ( Milana ) (born 31 January 1985) and Alessandra von Ruffin ( Sandra ) - stage name Alessandra Leandros (born 2 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 concerns the Cultural and International development of Piraeus . She is also Deputy Mayor of Piraeus.
It was announced in June 2008 that Leandros decided to leave her position in Greek politics with immediate effect.
Awards and collaborations
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 ", " Goldene Europa ", " Record Award of USA ", " Song Statue of Japan " and others.
Many variations of Leandros's albums were released around the world. The following list is of original albums she recorded. In Japan many albums also contain some songs mainly in Japanese and 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 .
Songs und Folklore
A Taste of...Vicky
L'amour est Bleu
Love is Blue
A Taste of Vicky
(First US release)
Vicky (To Mistiko Sou)
Le Temps Des Fleurs
Ich Glaub' An Dich
I Mikri Mas Istoria
Zoom Sur Vicky
Vicky ( Je Suis )
Vicky (Pes Mou Pos Boreis)
(First UK release)
Meine Freunde Sind Die Traume
Itan Mia Vradia
Dreams Are Good Friends
Ceux Que J'aime
Mein Lied Fur Dich
My Song for You
Ma Chanson Pour Toi
Ich Liebe Das Leben
Across the Water
J'aime La Vie
I Zoi Einai Oreia
Du Du Liegst Mir Im Herzen
Suesser Die Glocken Nie Klingen
Vicky Leandros (Recorded in USA)
Ich Bin ein M?dchen
Oh Mi Mama
Singt die sch?nsten Deutschen Volkslieder
Ich Gehe Neue Wege
Love is Alive
Irtha Yia Sena
Eine Nacht in Griechenland
Ich Bin Ich
Piretos Tou Erota
Nur Einen Augenblick
Lieben Und Leben
Weil Mein Herz Dich Nie Mehr Vergisst
Mit Offenen Armen
Weihnachten mit Vicky Leandros
...Singt Mikis Theodorakis
Ich Bin Wie Ich Bin
M?ge der Himmel