Leningrad Cowboys

The Leningrad Cowboys are a Finnish rock band who frequently perform rock and roll covers of other songs. They have exaggerated pompadour hairstyles and wear long, pointy shoes. They often work with Russian military band the Alexandrov Ensemble.

Leningrad Cowboys
Background information
GenresComedy rock
Rock and roll
Hard rock
Heavy metal
Glam metal
Alternative metal
Industrial metal
Folk metal
Years active1986–present
Johanna Kustannus
Roadrunner Records
Sony BMG
SPV Recordings
Associated actsSleepy Sleepers
MembersVille 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 membersSee below


The band was an invention of the Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki together with Sakke Järvenpää and Mato Valtonen, members of the Finnish comedy rock band Sleepy Sleepers. The three of them conceived the band in a bar in 1986 as a joke on the waning power of the Soviet Union. The two musicians 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][2] For the film the Sleepy Sleepers were joined by Nicky Tesco, founding member of the UK punk rock band The Members and several other musicians. The band "Leningrad Cowboys" became real only after the film was released, and subsequently started touring and recording.

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.

In 1996 the Leningrad Cowboys granted the Swiss-Italian singer-songwriter David Buzzi permission to write lyrics for the instrumental "Ten Lost Gringos" from the Go America soundtrack. This song was released in Italy and Switzerland in 1998 on the album "Il Diavolo Rosso: Romaneschi" with the title "Gringo".

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 an animated 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 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.

December 2012 saw the release of an animated Christmas video featuring Dog'Y'Dog, a dog resembling the dog from the "You're My Heart, You're My Soul" video. The video also featured a cover of "Christmas in Hollis" from an upcoming Leningrad Cowboys album for Christmas 2013.[3][4][5]

Red X-Mas will be a tour of Finland by the Leningrad Cowboys and the Russian Air Force Choir from 27 November to 7 December 2013, featuring over 60 performers.[6][7]

In co-production with Anima Vitae, Leningrad cowboys is producing an animated feature Dog'y'dog featuring the half-Siberian/half-Mexican dog (from their "Christmas in Hollis" music video) traveling from Siberia to Mexico via the USA.[8]

Dog'y'Dog also appeared in the Bonehead game for Android developed by Leningrad Cowboys Studios and Fingersoft and released 13 May 2014.[9][10]

Band members



  1. Eclipse Series 29: Aki Kaurismäki's Leningrad Cowboys - Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Liner notes). Aki Kaurismäki. The Criterion Collection. 2011 [1989]. ECL136.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. "Eclipse 29: Aki Kaurismäki's Leningrad Cowboys - From the Current - The Criterion Collection". Criterion.com. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  3. "Dog'Y'Dog Christmas". Dogydogofficial.com. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  4. "DOG'Y'DOG CHRISTMAS - Christmas in Hollis by Leningrad Cowboys". YouTube. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  5. "DOG'Y'DOG CHRISTMAS - Christmas in Hollis by Leningrad Cowboys - LENINGRAD COWBOYS * Buena Vodka Social Club". Leningradcowboys.fi. Archived from the original on March 12, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  6. "RED X-MAS PARTY 2013!!! - LENINGRAD COWBOYS * Buena Vodka Social Club". Leningradcowboys.fi. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  7. "Leningrad Cowboys Red X-Mas". Redxmas.fi. Archived from the original on August 29, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  8. "Off to Cannes Film Festival 2013 | Anima Vitae". Anima.fi. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 15, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fingersoft.bonehead
  11. "SPV". Spv.de. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
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