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True pioneers of Turkish pop music, Mogollar take their name from one of the largest empires in history, the Mongol Empire. As this empire was feared by many, Mogollar were seen as heroes to free Turkish pop music from the enslavement of Western patterns. Founders of Anadolu pop, which would lead to a whole new genre and hundreds of bands, they achieved far more than originally expected, and what many musicians couldn't have even dreamed of. Mogollar are actually a combination of two bands, Siluetler and Selcuk Alagöz Orchestra. Hasan Sel (bass), Engin Yorukoglu (drums), and Cahit Berkay (guitars) from Selcuk Alagöz Orchestra joined forces with Aziz Ahmet (vocals) and Murat Ses (keyboard) from Siluetler in 1967. The band's first single, "Eastern Love," was released in February of 1968, while Mogollar's breakthrough came during the summer of the same year when they achieved a third-place position in the Golden Mic music contest with the song "Ilgaz."
With a hippie and reformist attitude (protesting war and colonization), Mogollar first interjected psychedelic elements into their hard-rocking beat music. In their early live performances, violins, cello, and trumpet accompanied the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup. While they were building up a large fan base, their first Anatolian tour changed their lives -- as well as the future of Turkish rock music -- forever. While touring cities in eastern Turkey, members of Mogollar realized that in order to benefit from folk music they had to utilize traditional instruments like baglama, zurna, yayli tambur, and tulum, in effect creating what would come to be known as Anadolu pop. Attempting to combine the dynamism of Turkish folk music with that of Western-oriented pop, they knew they had to write songs in the Anadolu pop style, and "Dag ve Cocuk" was the first ever such pop song to be recorded.
When they were at the top of their league, singer Aziz Ahmet left the band. After a short period with vocalist Ersen Dinleten (later to become the lead singer of Ersen ve Dadaslar), the band moved to Paris without a singer in 1970. Finding the phone numbers of record companies from a telephone index in a cafe, they managed to persuade CBS to provide them a three-year contract. In 1971, Mogollar recorded their first album, titled Les Mogol, as they were known in France. The completely instrumental Danses et Rythmes de la Turquie -- d'Hier d'Aujourd'hui was a compilation of Mogollar versions of traditional Turkish folk tunes, and it was instantly showered with positive reviews -- some even named them the Pink Floyd of Turkey -- and it was even awarded the Grand Prix du Disque by the Charles Cros Academie in Paris.
In 1971, Baris Manco, who met the band in Paris, joined Mogollar. The two parts seemed to fit so perfectly that they even changed their name to Manchomongol. However, the union lasted only a few months. From then on, Mogollar was always on the brink of falling apart, working with many singers and having a lot of lineup changes. Among the singers they've worked with, Cem Karaca was probably the most significant, and the single Karaca and Mogollar recorded together, "Namus Belasi," is a landmark song in Turkish popular music history. Between 1974 and 1976, only Cahit Berkay and Engin Yorukoglu remained from the band's initial lineup. Mogollar recorded two more albums, Ensemble d'Cappadocia and Hitit Sun, the latter being the more popular of the two. These more jazzy recordings were also the signs of a search for new musical directions. Not long after, in 1976, Mogollar disbanded.
After almost 16 years of solo works, soundtracks, and collaborations with other bands, in 1992 members of Mogollar were called back to music by a group of fans who started a campaign for this cause. They collected thousands of signatures and sent them to Cahit Berkay and friends. As a result, Mogollar assembled for a reunion gig in 1993. Berkay, Yorukoglu, and one of the band's earliest members, Taner Öngür, were back in their slots, and Serhat Ersöz was featured on keyboards, with Berkay responsible for most of the vocals. The first album released following the reunion was Mogollar '94. Comparable to Cahit Berkay's solo soundtrack albums, the album contains some lengthy epics as well as more pop-oriented, keyboard-driven tracks. 4 Renk, which followed two years later, was a more straightforward effort. Criticized for being simple and popular, the release of 4 Renk marked a point when Mogollar were no longer expected by many to remain the continuing heroes of Turkish music. After some live and best-of albums, they released 2004's Yuruduk Durmadan, which was met with negative reviews. However, Mogollar continue to play live at large summer festivals, while Cahit Berkay pursues a more active solo career.
Moğollar (Mongols in Turkish) is one of the pioneer bands in Turkish rock music for about 40 years and one of the founders of Turkish folk rock (or Anatolian rock). The major goal of the band is to prove that folk music has a multi-layered soul and folk music's dynamism is very close to pop music's dynamism.
The band was founded in 1967 by Neco, Aziz Azmet, Aydın Daruga and Murat Ses who were previously members of Silüetler (silhouettes). However, Neco left the band at the end of 1967. Also, Cahit Berkay, who was a member of Selçuk Alagöz Band, and Haluk Kunt, who was a member of Vahşi Kediler (Wild Cats), both joined the band. Later, Haluk Kunt was replaced by Hasan Sel, who was a member of Apaşlar (Apaches) in 1968, and Aydın Daruga was replaced by Engin Yörükoğlu in 1969.
In 1970, Hasan Sel was replaced by Taner Öngür, previously a member of Meteorlar (Meteors) and the Erkin Koray Quartet. The band tried to fuse the technical aspects of pop music with the melodies of Anatolian folk music in late 1960s and early 1970s.
In July 1970, Aziz Azmet, the band's vocalist left the band and Ersen Dinleten replaced him for a short time. Moğollar recorded Ternek/Haliç'te Gün Batışı (Ternek/Sunset on the Golden Horn) 45 rpm, and left for Paris in August 1970.
In 1968 the group won the third place in Turkish music contest Golden Microphone. In 1971 the group won the Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy (previously won by such groups as Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix). Nearly all of the tracks on this album are compositions or traditional arrangements of Murat Ses, the group's keyboardist, arranger and composer (official records by SACEM, GEMA and MESAM).
Murat Ses's composition, Ağrı Dağı Efsanesi (The Legend of Mount Ararat), was inspired by ancient legends of the Great Flood in different cultures. In live versions of the track, which lasted over ten minutes, he made use of diverse FX technologies of the time to narrate a sonic story using his keyboards.
In 1971, Barış Manço joined as vocalist and the band was renamed Manchomongol. Manchomongol recorded 2 45 rpms, and this partnership ended after four months. Also, Engin Yörükoğlu stayed in Paris, and the drummer of Mavi Işıklar (Blue Lights), Ayzer Danga, joined the band to replace him.
Moğollar recorded one single with Selda Bağcan during the first half of 1972. Ersen then re-joined the band in July 1972 and they recorded another single. Murat Ses left the band in August 1972. In September 1972, Moğollar replaced their soloists with Cem Karaca, who was then the soloist of Kardaşlar (Brothers).This partnership of Cem Karaca and Moğollar lasted for two years and they produced the song, Namus Belası, which became a great hit.
In 1974, Taner Öngür and Ayzer Danga left the band. Öngür joined Dadaşlar, a band with Ersen Dinleten between 1974–1975 and 1979–1980 and Dervişan (Dervishes), a band with Cem Karaca between 1974 and 1978; in 1975, Danga participated in Erkin Koray's 'Elektronik Türküler' (Electronic Songs) album. Meanwhile, Cahit Berkay dissolved the band and left for France to meet with Engin Yörükoğlu. Cahit and Engin recorded two albums under the name Moğollar. They also recorded single with Ali Rıza Binboğa in 1975. The band completely dissolved in 1976.
After a 17-year absence, Cahit Berkay, Taner Öngür and Engin Yörükoğlu reformed the band in 1993, and were joined by keyboard player Serhat Ersöz. Murat Ses is dealing with other projects and is still pursuing an extraordinary international career.
In 2007, the Advertising agency TBWA decided to use Moğollar's late 1960s track, Garip Çoban (translated - Lonesome Shepherd; written by Murat Ses) in the This is Living advertisement campaign for Sony's PlayStation 3. Also Emrah Karaca (son of Cem Karaca) joined Moğollar in 2007. Engin Yörükoğlu was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and has died in 2010.