Sunday, July 20, 2008

Genghis Khan Makes A Comeback In Moscow

If your biggest hit single was called ‘Moscow’ and your group was sometimes known as Genghis Khan there may be a degree of ambiguity over your origin. So it would probably come as no surprise to anyone if you emanated from Germany.

Genghis Khan (not the marauding Mongol but the band) was more popularly known in most of Europe as Dschinghis Khan (the German spelling for Genghis Khan). They were a group that was created in 1979 to represent (then) West Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest (they came 4th by the way). They were very much in the vain of a lot of other European disco style groups of that time, such as Boney M, Arabesque and Silver Convention. They were very popular across most of Europe and Japan, releasing a string of hit songs, most of which had unusual themes surrounding historical figures and/or exotic locales. The original line-up consisted of Steve Bender, Wolfgang Heichel, Henriette Heichel, Leslie Mandoki, Edina Pop and Louis Hendrik Potgieter.

Though their song ‘Genghis Khan’ only reached #86 on the Australia charts in 1979, Genghis Khan as they were known here would soon score one of the biggest hits of 1980 in Australia. It was no coincidence that the song ‘Moscow’ was released in mid 1980, just in time for the Moscow Olympic Games. Though in no way an official theme song for the games, ‘Moscow’ was most certainly adopted in many parts of the world as an unofficial anthem as Olympic fever took hold. Australia succumbed to the songs catchy melody and playful lyrics more than most. ‘Moscow’ debuted on the Australia charts during the week ending 4th August 1980 and two weeks later it had rocketed to #1, where it would spend the next six weeks at the head of the pack. Actually in truth the song hit the Australian charts the day after the actual Moscow Olympic Games finished, so it was probably more a case of basking in the afterglow.

The follow up ‘Samurai/China Boy’ was a huge hit in Japan and other parts of Asia. Despite their success in the rest of the world, Genghis Khan never managed to crack the lucrative U.S. market. But regardless they scored gold/platinum records in over 20 countries and sold more than 20 million records.

Dschinghis (Genghis) Khan broke up in the mid 80s, after which time Louis Henrik Potgieter returned to South Africa and a career away from music - sadly he died in 1993 of AIDS related complications. But following a resurgence in interest for their earlier music, the surviving members reunited in 2005 and played a live show in Moscow during December of that year. Just months later a second member of the group, Steve Bender, passed away from cancer. But the remaining members have continued on with the group, now supported by a dance group called ‘The Legacy Of Dschinghis Khan’ to present an all round stage spectacular. They toured around Europe across 2006/07 and released an album of newly recorded material in 2007 titled ‘7 Leben’ (7 Lives).


SthevenGuitar said...

Hi! ..
And this is a rare band for me :S... Im from Colombia...

I invite you to

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Thanks for your comment, and invite to check out your website. :)