"Turku" is a catch-all name for the Turkish folk song, which has numerous different origins which account for the variety of themes, moods, and styles. Yeni Türkü, meaning "New Turku" ("Folk Song" in Turkish), were born at a time when Turkey was struggling between Eastern and Western ideologies. While the extreme left and right wings were fighting for their causes, Yeni Türkü aimed for a higher good: peace and love above all. This higher ideal is probably the reason the band has lasted so long, as it still speaks to both the hearts and the minds of the whole nation without the band even having recorded any new material in the 2000s. Blending both modern and traditional instruments with a Western song structure and flavoring it with Aegean and Mediterranean soul, Yeni Türkü created a new genre of Turkish music which combined all the historical backgrounds the Anatolian land had to offer.
Founding members Selim Atakan (born 1951) and Derya Köroglu (born 1955) were in the same band in high school, Ankara Fen Lisesi. While Atakan chose medicine, Koroglu decided on architecture; nevertheless, they continued their musical collaborations during their university years. Atakan auditioned for the first-ever Turkish entry to the Eurovision song contest with his future wife and bandmate Zerrin Yasar (1950) but didn't win. Koroglu formed a band with Mehmet Toker and Tugrul Bayrak named Mehmet-Tugrul-Derya in homage to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, whom they frequently covered. They also started writing their own material, with English-language lyrics by their classmate Haluk Mesci (future advertising guru). In 1977, founding members Atakan, Koroglu, and Yasar came together under the name of the new poetic genre "New Turku" led by their poet friend Yasar Miraç. Influenced by Chillean band Inti-Illimani, Yeni Türkü released their debut album, Bugdayin Turkusu, in 1979. During the turmoil of the military coup the following year, the album was shelved.
When the effects of the coup started to lessen, the trio returned to the music scene with a politically lighter but emotionally resonant album which was probably their best, Akdeniz Akdeniz. "Telli Telli," "Çember," and "Maskeli Balo" are still fan favorites at their live shows. With collaborations from Tugrul Bayrak, Murat Buket, Tuncer Tercan, Eftal Küçük, and most of their lyrics from poet Murathan Mungan, Akdeniz Akdeniz brought the band nation-wide fame. The same year saw the release of a compilation album named Film Muzikleri which compiled soundtracks recorded by the band for the feature films of great directors like Atif Yilmaz and Serif Goren.
The infamous art house Çekirdek Sanat Evi run by Bulent Ortacgil and Fikret Kizilok became home to Yeni Türkü's regular gig. The recordings made there were released as Çekirdek Sanat Evi Resitali in 1984. Two years later, Yeni Türkü was back with a full studio album, Gunebakan. Minus Zerrin Yasar, Koroglu and Atakan were accompanied by Tugrul Bayrak, Murat Buket, and Fuat Oburoglu ve Cengiz Onural. Murathan Mungan's "Olmasa Mektubun" was the highlight of the album, which included poems by Meral Ozbek, Can Yucel, and Necati Cumali. Yeni Türkü released Dunyanin Kapilari in 1987, featuring the amazing "Resim," and Yesilmisik in 1988; the latter was the last album to showcase Zerrin Yasar as a member of Yeni Türkü.
After the following live album Rumeli Hisar Konseri, Atakan and a number of key members left the band. Now with a smaller core crew, Koroglu wrote almost all the songs while the lyrics were comprised of poems from Murathan Mungan and Cengiz Onural himself. The first album after the split, Ask Yeniden, came in 1992. The title track and the album-opener "Yedikule" took Yeni Türkü to the top of the nation's music charts, but it also also marked the beginning of the end for the group.
Despite their retirement, Yeni Türkü continued writing music for films and television, including the phenomenal TV series Super Baba. With a well-known, popular cast, Super Baba was one of the biggest attractions in Turkish TV history. Providing the show's soundtrack album, especially "Bana Bir Masal Anlat Baba" sung by Oya Kuçumen, kept the band in the Turkish music scene's top lists.
A compilation album in 1996 was followed by a solo effort by Koroglu, which was recorded between 1987-1997. After the new album titled Yeni was released in 1999, Yeni Türkü was quiet until they released four compilation albums in 2002. Yeni Türkü, with a completely different lineup, returned to playing gigs to sold-out crowds across the country.