LEO LEANDROS - A GREEK BY HEART AND BY SOUL
Born on August 23rd, 1926 in Astakos (Greece) Leandros Papathanasiou, as the son of a professor at the University,
After finishing Highschool, Leandros went on to study law at the University. When the Civil-war in Greece broke out, he was forced to join the army. After the war, at a reunion with his friends from the army, he was discovered by a reporter who heard him singing, and subsequently introduced him to a radiostation. Some months later, Leandros is one of the most succesful and popular singers in Greece. Leandros felt however not quite satisfied, that somehow Greece was not enough, even though as he himself explains: “Every guy in the street knew my name”.
CAREER IN GERMANY
In May 1955, accompanied by his wife Kyriaki Protopapa (Bubu), and with a heart full of high hopes, he disembarked the train at Frankfurt am Main with a lot of luggage, without knowing a single word in German. He had quit his job in Greece , working as a secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs, and left his daughter Vassiliki behind, in the care of his mother-in-law.
Leandros tried knocking on the door of several broadcasting-companies, but not being able to speak a word of German, noone understood what he wanted. He finally tried the Hessischen Rundfunk, and by now realizing that they didn't understand him there either, he simply started singing a Greek song. The next morning he was given the opportunity to sing his song on the radio. After a television-show, he was contacted by the record-company PHILIPS, who offered him a contract, and then recorded his first song in Germany , “Conchita”.
Leandros was by now a rising star, and he scored several hits, a.o. the German version of “Day-O” (“The Banana-boat Song”), “Komm Mr. Tallimann”, “Tum Balalaika” and “Bananas”. He was becoming an established name in Germany , and with his song “Mustafa” (1960), he made it to the No. 1 in the German charts. Now other countries were showing an interest in him as well.
By late 1958, their daughter Vassiliki had joined them in Germany , and for a few years the family was complete. In 1961 Kyriaki and Leandros divorced, and Vicky –as Vassiliki was called in Germany- decided to stay with her father.
In 1964, Leandros formed the group “Five Tops” with Günther Kallmann, Bernd Golonski, Sigurd Hilkenbach and Karl-Heinz Welbers. They scored a big hit with the German version of The Four Season hit-song, “Rag Doll”. The follow-ups “Warte auf das Glück” (1965) and “Frag nur dein Herz” (1966) also reached high positions in the German charts.
PRODUCER AND SONGWRITER
Leandros now moved on to produce his own songs and records more and more, and also producing/writing for other artists. Together with Ralf Arnie he produces the first single for his daughter Vicky, “Messer, Gabel, Schere, Licht”. As her carreer starts hitting off internationally, he decides to stop singing in order to take full care of his daughter's increasing popularity, working as her producer and manager.
Leo Leandros can be credited as belonging to the breed of some of the most succesfull producers and writers ever. Many artists have confided in him. Former to being helped by Leandros, lesser known artists like Ulli Martin (“Ich liebe dich”) and Demis Roussos (“Goodbye My Love Goodbye” and “Schönes Mädchen aus Arcadia ”) grew to international fame and ranked amongst some of the highest paid artists. Artists like Julio Iglesias (“Schenk mir deine Liebe” and Freddy Quinn (“ Istanbul ist weit”), who were in danger of falling into oblivion, were brought back to stardom with the professional touch of Leandros. In 1974 he was elected the most successful producer in Germany .
In 1979 Leandros remarried. By his new wife, Monika, he has Alexandra-Sabrina (1980) and Konstantin (1985).
By 1983 Leandros decides to stop his carreer as a producer: “I don't feel like producing anymore – I have done enough. Now I want to devote myself to my biggest hobby: My family!!!”. He is, however, working in the wings as an advisor for his daughter Vicky Leandros.
Nowadays, Leandros lives a private life in Greece with his third wife Venetia and their daughter Vanessa born in 1999. In 2004 however, he made a short reappearance on Greek television – a short interview by his daughter Vicky on a tv-special in honour of the Olympic Games in Athens .
A friend of the family once gave the following description of Leandros: “Even though Leandros did travel around the World, earning his money, he always remained a true Greek – by heart and by soul!”.