Part of Us
Johnny Shabandar Johnny Shabandar is one of the co-founders of what many consider to be one of the most popular and eclectic bands in Chicago - the Bandoleros. 'I grew up with music always in my life,' states Johnny. 'I was very observant of other singers and I hoped to be like them one day. Who would think that there would be a time when I could play in front of standing room only audiences three times a week in Chicago?' Although he dreamed of coming to the USA, it did not become a reality until 1982. Johnny's journey was not an easy one. To protect him from the fate of his brother, who got killed while serving in the military in Iraq, the family fled to Greece when Johnny turned 15. While in Greece, music became his refuge and Johnny began to explore this love by singing and playing guitar at outdoor nightclubs to enthusiastic audiences. In the summer of 1982, he, along with his family, were invited to live permanently in the USA. He spent all of his free time singing, playing music and writing songs for other singers. 'One day, one of my good friends discovered that I was capable of performing, so he introduced me to a guitar player named John Horia'. That led Johnny to perform with a band called 'Bandito de Amore.' After one short year, Johnny realized his dream and started his own band, the Bandoleros. What began as a sound-a-like of the Gipsy Kings and 'Los Reyes' quickly evolved into the unique sound of the Bandoleros. Offering an unmatched combination of songs in six different languages: English, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Arabic and Assyrian, the music also came to reflect the diversity of it's members, which are Assyrian, Venezuelan, Cuban, Ecuardorian, and Russian backgrounds, while incorporating sounds of the Caribbean, Latin America and the Mediterranean. 'We have only just begun,' says Johnny. Stay tuned.