Formed within just few months in 1979, Dschinghis Khan was the product of the disco boom and following on the heels of other German-produced bands such as Boney M, Arabesque, and Silver Convention. Their songs were based on historical people and places. The group was formed by music producer Ralph Siegel AKA Mr. Eurovision. Siegel was apparently obsessed with making the next ABBA. Their name is the German spelling of "Genghis Khan," the name of the song they sang in their introductory performance in the Eurovision Song Contest. While they didn't win Eurovision, the group achieved great success in Europe, Russia, Israel, Australia, and Japan.
The group broke up in the mid-1980s. After the break-up, lead dancer Louis Hendrick Potgieter (known to Youtube users as Dancing Santa Jesus) returned to his native South Africa to manage a hotel. He contracted HIV and died of AIDS in 1993. For this reason he's been considered gay, though evidence (photos of him and his ex-fiancee, pop/jazz/disco singer Madeleine Davis, as well as comments from his sister) disprove that.
Wolfgang Heichel, the youngest member of Dschinghis Khan, introduced his wife Henriette Heichel to Siegel to help him completing the group cast. The two divorced in 1986, although both are taking part in modern incarnations of Dschinghis Khan.
Steve Bender, "the bald one" that looks like Destro, left the group in 1981 on the advice of his doctor and because of backpain, which made dancing hard for him; an unofficial version has it that he had some arguments with the producers. He returned for a reunion concert in 2005 (sans the baldness), but died six months later from cancer.
Leslie Mandoki, the drummer, fled to Germany from his native Hungary, as the Commies wouldn't let him keep his mane and sing whatever he wanted. He is now an established jazz/rock session drummer, and it's better not to mention his tenure in the Khan during interviews.
Edina Pop is Hungarian too. She still works with the group in reunion concerts.
In 2004 "Moskau" became a surprise hit on the Internet due to the sharing of a performance of the song from the group's glory days. Blogging viewers of the video commented that the wild disco dances, retro instrumentation, and happy German vocals are hilarious and oddly uplifting. The song and its video have become an internet fad. Today, Dschinghis Khan is in the middle of the Cirque du Dschinghis Khan Tour, which includes the group in its current incarnation: "The Legacy of Dschinghis Khan" and acts from other artists including Mongolian circus acts.
Their notable songs include:
- "Dschinghis Khan" - Actually covered by Berryz Koubou, one of the bands of the Hello! Project.
- "Moskau" - Their most famous song outside of Germany, which was used by Australia's Channel 7 for their 1980 Moscow Olympics coverage. But not approved by the Soviet government in Moscow. Due to it's popularity in Australia, the group eventually recorded an English version of the song.
- "Rocking Son of Dschinghis Khan" - a hybrid English/German song.
- "Hadschi Halef Omar" - A song that gets away with saying Muhammad's name. (It's a homage to a fictional Muslim character — namely, to Karl May's probably most famous companion during his notional adventures in the Orient.)
- "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor" - The only song theirs that only exists as an English version.
Dschinghis Khan has examples of:
- Anachronism Stew: "Rocking Son of Dschinghis Khan", as can be discerned from the title. Among other things, it name-drops Ringo Starr.
- Ancient Astronauts: "Die Fremden" (also in English as The Strangers) is about them.
- Badass Mustache: Leslie Mándoki
- Bald of Awesome: Steve Bender
- Best Served Cold: The protagonist of "Pistolero" sees his parents get killed by three Mexicans as a boy, and becomes The Gunslinger as an adult. But when he finally finds the men responsible, he realizes he's been too focused on his revenge and doesn't go through with it.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Many have pointed out how cheery and energetic Wolfgang Heichler looks in the live shows. "THE GUY IN BLACK IS SO F*CKING HAPPY!", indeed.
- Camp: Most of their songs, very intentionally. While a small number of them are more serious than the rest the band will forever be remembered for the sheer amount of camp on display.
- Character Title: Aside from the group's eponymous song there's *deep breath* "Aladin", "Billy the Kid", "El Diablo" (a bull), "Hadschi Halef Omar", "Ivanhoe", "James Bond", "Juanita Elena", "Judas", "Käpt'n Kidd", "Käpt'n Nemo", "Kaspar Hauser", "Loreley", "Mata Hari", "Michael", "Pablo Picasso", "Robinson", "Rocky Marciano", "Rübezahl", "Temudschin" (also about Genghis Khan), and "Tut Ench Amun".
- The Comically Serious: Steve Bender was completely hard-faced in the middle of the crazy. And that's why we loved him.
- Composite Character: "Loreley" gives its title character the backstory of the Clemens Brentano version of the story (about a beautiful woman who has many pursuers but despairs at her inability to be with the man she actually loves), but rather than committing suicide, she takes on the Enthralling Siren aspects of the Heinrich Heine version.
- Concept Album: Corrida, an album about the life of the orphan Miguel who dreams of becoming a bullfighter.
- Covers Always Lie: Averted, fans expect fun, silly music with the covers.
- Cover Version: "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor", "Michael Row the Boat Ashore". Dschinghis Khan has its own modern-day cover/tribute band, Rocking Son.
- '80s Hair:
- Lack thereof, in Bender's case. Facial hair for Potgieter and Mándoki, OTOH...
- See Heichler's hairstyle in the pic up there. Great chops, man.
- The '80s: They may have started out in 1979, but they practically embodied the soul of 80s music.
- Europop: They are one of the more memorable European pop bands.
- Evil Prince: "Helden und Schurken" starts with the tale of a prince usurping his father's throne.
- Face of a Thug: Mándoki
- Genki Girl: Henriette Heichel is always all smiles as the group performs.
- Glorious Mother Russia (with some Vodka Drunkenski): "Moskau".
- Good Needs Evil: "Helden und Schurken" posits that where there is a hero, there must also be a villain.
- Gratuitous Spanish: "Pistolero"- with more of it in the English version than the German. (There's also a version entirely in Spanish, that's not gratuitous.)
- Landmark of Lore: "Loreley", "Machu Picchu"
- Legion of Lost Souls: "Die Fremdenlegion" (subtitled "Armee der Verlorenen Seelen," i.e. "Army of Lost Souls")
- Named After Someone Famous: The band is named after Genghis Khan.
- Nice Hat: Louis Hendrick Potgieter tends to wear these. See the above picture, and in "Moskau", where he wears what looks exactly like a Colovian fur helm.
- Origins Episode: "Temudschin" is this for Genghis Khan.
- Overly Long Name: Hadschi Halef Omar Ben Hadschi Abul Abbas Ibn Hadschi Dawuhd al Gossarah
- The Place: "Himalaya", "Israel", "Machu Picchu", "Mexico", "Moskau", "Puszta", "Rom", "Sahara", and "Sierra Nevada".
- Popcultural Osmosis: Popular Jewish singer Mordechai Ben David wrote Yiddish lyrics for Dschinghis Khan. This version is called, Yidden and is extremely well known in the Orthodox Jewish community and is often played at Weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Guests often perform a complicated choreographed dance to it. Very few people familiar with this version are aware of its origin. Some of those who are aware don't like this version due to being a reworked version of Dschinghis Khan.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Think of it. Germans singing about a conqueror in Jerusalem. They somehow got away with all of it and came fourth.
- See the notes on Hadschi Halef Omar for more crap that they got past the radar.
- The Runner-Up Takes It All: They didn't win the Eurovision, but they got a really sweet consolation prize with their international success.
- Save the Princess: "Samurai", with the Emperor's daughter.
- Shout-Out: The melody of "Judas" borrows from part of Judas's song "Heaven on Their Minds" from Jesus Christ Superstar ("Nazareth, your famous son...").
- Spiritual Successor : Power Metal . Despite not beeing Metal, Dschingis Khan had all the badassery, manlyness and Trueness of ancient warriors in their lyrics and outfits, we would later find in Power Metal. And yes, they even did it before Manowar.
- That Russian Squat Dance: This trope is forever linked to Moskau. Though in a variant of Beam Me Up, Scotty!, they never actually performed that move. (Probably because it's very hard on the legs.)
- Thirsty Desert: "Sahara".
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Henriette Heichel is the tomboy, Edina Pop is the girly girl.
A list of things that they have songs about:
- Aladdin ("Aladin")
- Ancient Astronauts ("Die Fremden")
- The Bible ("Judas")
- European folklore ("Loreley", "Rübezahl")
- French Foreign Legion ("Die Fremdenlegion")
- Genghis Khan and Mongolia (The eponymous "Dschinghis Khan", "Temudschin", "Die Gold'ne Horde Dschinghis Khans", "Rocking Son of Dschinghis Khan", "In der Mongolei")
- The Golden Age of Piracy ("Käpt'n Kidd (Wir Sind Piraten)")
- Hawai'i ("Goodbye Hawaii")
- The Himalayas ("Himalaya")
- Hungary ("Puszta")
- Israel ("Israel")
- Ivanhoe ("Ivanhoe")
- James Bond ("James Bond")
- Karl May's Orient Cycle ("Hadschi Halef Omar")
- Kaspar Hauser ("Kaspar Hauser")
- Kazakhstan ("Rote Sonne über Kasachstan")
- Machu Picchu ("Machu Picchu")
- Madagascar ("Madagaskar")
- Mata Hari ("Mata Hari")
- Mexico ("Mexico", "Pistolero")
- Moscow ("Moskau")
- Pablo Picasso ("Pablo Picasso")
- Robinson Crusoe ("Robinson")
- Rocky Marciano ("Rocky Marciano")
- Rome ("Rom")
- Sahara ("Sahara")
- Samurai ("Samurai")
- Spain (The entire Corrida album)
- Thor Heyerdahl ("Kon-Tiki")
- Tutankhamun ("Tut Ench Amun")
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ("Käpt'n Nemo")
- The Wild West ("Billy the Kid", "Pistolero", "Sierra Nevada")