Dschinghis Khan

Leslie Mandoki: Still a Rebel

Mandoki in Ungarn – Open Air Konzert “Mandoki Soulmates”
Leslie Mandoki in action in Budapest. Source: DPA

The drummer and songwriter Leslie Mandoki won global attention as a member of the music group Dschinghis Khan.

As a producer, he has worked with Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, the No Angels and the German rapper Sido, to name a few. In his then communist homeland, Hungary, he was arrested more than a dozen times on political charges.

On the side, Mandoki, 64, writes theme music for auto companies, makes safety sounds for electric cars and writes campaign songs for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Der Tagesspiegel: You were a drummer who wanted to play jazz rock. But in 1979, you ended up with producer Ralph Siegel and his German pop music band Dschinghis Khan. That must have been…..

Leslie Mandoki: … excruciatingly unpleasant.

What was so bad about it?

Everything. There wasn’t a thing that wasn’t embarrassing. I had studied music and performed at festivals in Hungarian stadiums. When I came to Munich, the Munich Sound had just started to boom. Elton John, Queen, Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones recorded there. [German jazz saxophonist and a film music composer] Klaus Doldinger helped me get into the studio scene. My friendship with [German pop-rock singer] Udo Lindenberg also began then.

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