Leningrad Cowboys

Leningrad Cowboys
Leningrad Cowboys
Background information
Origin Finland
Genres Rock and Roll
Hard Rock
Heavy Metal
Years active 1986–present
Labels Megamania
Sony BMG
SPV Recordings
Associated acts Sleepy Sleepers
Website http://www.leningradcowboys.fi
Ville Tuomi
Sakke Järvenpää
Tume Uusitalo
Varre Vartiainen
Pauli Hauta-Aho
Sami Järvinen
Timo Tolonen
Okke Komulainen
Pemo Ojala
Pope Puolitaival
Jay Kortehisto
Anna Sainila
Hanna Moisala
Past members
See below

The Leningrad Cowboys is a Finnish rock band famous for humorously making rock and roll covers of popular songs, exaggerated pompadour hairstyles, long, pointy shoes, often featuring a Russian military band, the Alexandrov Ensemble.



The band was an invention of the Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki, Sakke Jarvenpää and Mato Valtonen, members of the Finnish pop-punk band Sleepy Sleepers. The band was conceived in a bar in 1986 as joke on the waning power of the Soviet Union. Jarvenpää and Valtonen expressed their wishes that Kaurismäki would direct their first music video, which resulted in the short film "Rocky VI" (1986). After two further short films, "Thru the Wire" (1987) and "L.A. Woman" (1988), Kaurismäki decided to direct a feature film about them, Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989).[1] In these films they are joined by Nicky Tesco, founding member of the UK punk rock band The Members.

After Leningrad Cowboys Go America

After the film, the band took on a life of its own, recording music, making videos and giving concerts. The band appeared in two other Aki Kaurismäki films, the Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994) and the Total Balalaika Show (1994), which is a film of a concert performed by the band and the full 160-member Alexandrov ensemble in Helsinki, Finland in June 1993. Kaurismäki also wrote and directed two videos featuring the band: their cover of the 60's folk standard "Those Were The Days" (1992) and "These Boots" (1993).

In 1994, the band appeared together with 70 members of the Alexandrov ensemble at the 11th annual MTV Music Awards, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, where they sang the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic Sweet Home Alabama. The show was seen by an estimated 250 million people worldwide. That same year, the band and ensemble again joined forces for the "Nokia Balalaika Show", a concert held in Berlin. In 1998 they featured in the film L.A. Without a Map.

Currently, the band has 11 Cowboys and two Leningrad Ladies. The songs, all somewhat influenced by polka and progressive rock, are performed in English and have themes such as vodka, tractors, rockets, and Genghis Khan, as well as folkloric Russian songs, rock and roll ballads and covers from bands as diverse as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Modern Talking, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, all presented with lots of humour.

Ten years after the Total Balalaika Show, on August 23, 2003, the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov ensemble returned to the Senate Square in Helsinki with UMO and various international performers for the spectacular Global Balalaika Show, was released on DVD directed by Timo Suomi, on November 21, 2003.

In 2006 the album Zombies Paradise was released. This album features a hard rock sound, and draws influences from speed metal, groove metal, and industrial metal. However, covers of famous old songs sounds chaotically effective (especially "Manic Monday"). The album also includes the 1994 Studio version of "Happy Together" as well as a new 2006 version. The music video for the album's cover of the song "You're My Heart, You're My Soul" – is made totally in animated 3D computer graphics as a road-thriller movie.

One more show with the Russian Military Band was played in Finland on November 22, 2008. A newly-released publication, Bio-Book PRAVDA – The Truth About The Leningrad Cowboys also appeared. Promotional lines included: "Here it is finally, The Leningrad Cowboys book "Pravda"!"

October 2011 saw the release of the Kaurismäki Leningrad Cowboys features and short films as a box set by the The Criterion Collection as of their Eclipse series of releases. This month also featured the new album Buena Vodka Social Club, their first album of all-original material since 2000's Terzo Mondo.

Band Members

Current members[2]

  • Ville Tuomi : Lead Vocals (2011–)
  • Sakke Järvenpää : Vocals (1986–)
  • Varre Vartiainen : Guitar (2003–)
  • Pauli Hauta-aho : Guitar (2011–)
  • Timo Tolonen : Bass (2003–)
  • Sami Järvinen : Drums (2011–)
  • Okke Komulainen : Keyboards, Accordion (2011–)
  • Tume Uusitalo : Vocals, Guitar (2003–)
  • Pemo Ojala : Trumpet, Mitten (1993–)
  • Pope Puolitaival : Saxophone (2003–)
  • Jay Kortehisto : Trombone (2003–)
  • Anna Sainila : Dancer, Vocals (2011–)
  • Hanna Moisala : Dancer, Vocals (2011–)

Former members

  • Nicky Tesco : vocals (1986–1989)
  • Mato Valtonen : vocals (1986–1997)
  • Silu Seppälä : bass (1989–2000)
  • Mauri Sumén : keyboards, accordion (1989–2006)
  • Puka Oinonen : guitar (1989)
  • Pimme Korhonen : drums (1989)
  • Saku Kuosmanen : vocals (1989)
  • Pekka Virtanen : guitar (1989)
  • Ben Granfelt : Guitar (1992–1996)
  • Esa Niiva : saxophone (1994–1996)
  • Teijo "Twist Twist" Erkinharju : Drums (1994–2000)
  • Jorma Marjaranta : vocals (1994)
  • Vesa Kääpä : guitar (1996–2000)
  • Mari Hatakka : Go-Go, vocals (1996–2000)
  • Tiina Isohanni : Go-Go, vocals (1996–2000)
  • Jore Marjaranta : vocals (1996)
  • Tatu Kemppaninen : guitar (1997)
  • Veeti Kallio : vocals (1997)
  • Tipe Johnson : vocals (2000–2008)
  • Ykä Putkinen : Guitar (2000)
  • Antti Snellman : Saxophone (2000)
  • Marzi Nyman : guitar, vocals (2003–2006)
  • Juuso Hannukainen : percussion (2003)
  • Sami Järvenpää : vocals (2003)
  • Petri Puolitaival : tenor sax, vocals (2006)



Studio albums

Title Label Year
1917–1987 Megamania 1987
We Cum From Brooklyn Johanna 1992
Happy Together Johanna 1994
Go Space Johanna 1996
Mongolian Barbeque Johanna 1997
Terzo Mondo Johanna 2000
Zombies Paradise Sony BMG 2006
Buena Vodka Social Club SPV Recordings 2011[3]


Title Label Year
Leningrad Cowboys Go America Megamania 1989

Live albums

Title Label Year
Live in Prowinzz Johanna 1993
Total Balalaika Show - Helsinki Concert Johanna 1993
Nokia Balalaika Show (promo only) Johanna 1995
Global Balalaika Show Leningrad Cowboys Ltd. 2003


Title Label Year
Thank You Very Many - Greatest Hits & Rarities BMG 1999
Go Wild BMG 2000
Those Were the Days - The Best Of Leningrad Cowboys Leningrad Cowboys 2009

Singles and EPs

Title Format Label Year Notes
"L. A. Woman" 7" AMT 1987 Tracks: "L.A. Woman", "Thru the Wire"
"In the Ghetto" 12" AMT 1987 Tracks: "In the Ghetto", "The Beast in Me"
"Thru The Wire (Short Film)" 7", CD BMG Ariola 1991 Tracks: "Thru The Wire" (Short Film), "L.A. Woman" (Short Film), "Ballad Of The Leningrad Cowboys", "Mambo From Säkkijärvi"
"Those Were The Days" CD BMG Ariola 1991
"Thru the Wire" CD BMG Ariola 1992 Tracks: "Thru the Wire" (soft version), "Thru the Wire" (album version), "Sally is Something Else", "Fat Bob Dollop"
"Those Were The Days" 7", CD BMG Ariola 1992 Tracks: "Those Were the Days", "Sauna", "Kassaka"
"These Boots" CD BMG Ariola, Megamania 1993 Tracks: "These Boots" (Single Edit), "Thru The Wire" "Sabre Dance" (Instrumental), "Life Is A Bitch (Elämässä Pitää Olla Runkkua)"
"Nokia Balalaika Show" (Promo EP) CD Megamania 1994 Tracks: "Delilah", "Gimme All Your Lovin'", "Happy Together"
"Jupiter Calling" CD BMG Ariola, Megamania 1996
"Where's The Moon" CD BMG Ariola, Megamania 1996 Tracks: "Where's the Moon", "Universal Fields", "Answering Machine Space Messages"
"Mongolian Barbeque" (Promo EP) CD Megamania 1997 Tracks: "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)", "Bad Wind", "Sweet Home Alabama" (Stalker Mix)
"Be Worry Don't Happy" CD (Promo) Megamania 1999 Tracks: "Mardi Gras Ska", "Happy Being Miserable", "Nolo Tengo"
"Happy Being Miserable" CD Roadrunner 2000 Tracks: "Happy Being Miserable", "Mardi Gras Ska", "Back to Moscow"
"Monkey Groove" CD (Promo) Johanna 2000 Tracks: "Monkey Groove", "Harem"
"Der Lachende Vagabund" CD (Promo) Johanna 2004
"You're My Heart, You're my Soul" CD Sony BMG 2006 Tracks: "You're My Heart, You're My Soul", "Happy Together" (2006 version)", "Happy Together" (Original)
007 Villain Club by Swatch CD (Promo) Spark Records 2008 Tracks: "A View to a Kill", "Goldfinger", and "James Bond Theme"

Contributions and other releases

Album Title Year Label Song(s)
Hit News Nro 1 1992 K-Tel International
  • "Those Were the Days"
Compact! 4/92 1992 BMG Ariola
  • "Those Were the Days"
Reindeer Rock '92 1992 CD-Linja
  • "Thru the Wire"
Finland Rules 1992 Stars in the Dark
  • "The Way I Walk"
Crossing All Over 1993 BMG Ariola, GUN Records
  • "Sally Is Something Else"
Suomi-Rock 1987 1994 Poko Records
  • "Thru the Wire"
Best of Crossover 1996 BMG Ariola
  • "Sally Is Something Else"
Die Harald Schmidt Show 1996 Intercord
  • "Where's the Moon"
Fetenhits – The Real Classics (The 3rd) 1997 Polystar Records
  • "Those Were the Days"
The Songs of Bob Dylan – May Your Song Always Be Sung Again 1997 BMG Ariloa
  • "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
"Il Diavolo Rosso" (David Buzzi EP) 1998 Pony
  • "Gringo" (original title "Ten lost gringos", with David Buzzi, writer of the lyrics, on vocals)
La Musique de Paris Dernière 1 2000 Naïve
  • "Happy Together"
Top Speed Music 2000 BMG
  • "Gimme All Your Lovin'"
Jukebox – Music In The Films Of Aki Kaurismäki 2006 Megamania
  • "Thru' The Wire"
  • "The Cossack Song"
  • "Ballad Of The Leningrad Cowboys"
  • "Those Were The Days"
  • "Nolo Tengo Dinares"
  • "Kili Watch" (w/ André Wilms)
  • "Delilah" (w/ Sakari Kuosmanen)


Title Year Director Notes
"Rocky VI" 1986 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"Thru The Wire" 1987 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"L.A. Woman" 1988 Aki Kaurismäki short film
Leningrad Cowboys Go America 1989 Aki Kaurismäki feature film
"Those Were The Days" 1991 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"These Boots" 1992 Aki Kaurismäki short film
Eurotrash 1993 Segment on the band included in the 2nd episode of the first series
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses 1994 Aki Kaurismäki feature film
Total Balalaika Show 1994 Aki Kaurismäki Concert film
NOKIA Balalaika Show 1994 Concert – TV broadcast
11th Annual MTV Video Music Awards 1994 Performance of "Sweet Home Alabama" with the Red Army Ensemble
"Jupiter Calling" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
"Leningrad" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
"Where's The Moon" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
L.A. Without a Map 1998 Mika Kaurismäki feature film
"Happy Being Miserable" 2000 music video
Leningrad Cowboys Go Classic 2001 Concert – TV broadcast (NDR)
Global Balalaika Show 2003 Timo Suomi Concert – TV broadcast (YLE)
Leningrad Cowboys Play Hurriganes 2004 Concert of Hurriganes music – TV broadcast (YLE)
"You're My Heart, You're My Soul" 2007 music video
"All We Need is Love" 2011 Dirk Behlau, Sakke Järvenpää music video


Title Author(s) Publisher Year
Merry Christmas Leningrad Cowboys Seppo Hämäläinen
Sakke Järvenpää
Mato Valtonen
Otava Publishing 1994
Leningrad Cowboys – Sweet Home Mexico Seppo Hämäläinen
Sakke Järvenpää
Mato Valtonen
Otava Publishing 1995
PRAVDA – The Truth About The Leningrad Cowboys Roman Schatz Johnny Kniga / WSOY Publishing 2008


  1. ^ Aki Kaurismäki (1989) [DVD 2011]. Eclipse Series 29: Aki Kaurismäki's Leningrad Cowboys - Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Liner notes). The Criterion Collection. ECL136. 
  2. ^ http://www.spv.de/News/newsdetail.php?newsID=145
  3. ^ Official Leningrad Cowboys website – News section

External links

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