Charles Ganimian

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Charles 'Chick' Ganimian is an Armenian-American musician known mostly for playing the oud.[1] Ganimian played Turkish, Armenian, and Arabic music in the "kef" style of the Armenian immigrants from Turkey to the US. He played at Armenian-American dance parties as well as belly dance shows in the Manhattan ethnic nightclubs and elsewhere.

Early life[edit]

Ganimian was born in 1926 in Troy, NY to Armenian parents who had emigrated from Marash in 1922. In his home he often heard the music of the "old country" performed by his father, an amateur musician. Since the family spoke both Armenian and Turkish at home, Chick became fluent in both languages. The basic repertoire he used throughout his career was molded by the music he heard and learned in his youth.

When he was 10, Ganimian moved with his family to the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. After initially studying the violin and attaining some skill on the instrument, he switched to the oud.

Music career[edit]

Ganimian formed the Nor-Ikes Band in 1948 with Steve Boghossian, Eddie Malkasian, Aram Davidian, and Souren Baronian. The band's name was suggested by Souren Baronian's father and means "new dawn" in Armenian (nor ayk). The band traveled throughout the eastern United States, developing a strong following, and, for Chick, acknowledgement as a virtuoso of the oud and as a first rate singer.

Although trained as a butcher, Chick earned his living exclusively as a musician. His regular appearances at Asbury Park's Fennimore Hotel, the Round Table, where he was a headliner for years, the Cafe Feenjon on MacDougal Street, and numerous other venues, allowed him to enjoy a comfortable living.

He has played with Rufus Harley,[2] and had a hit single in the 1950s with Ganim's Asia Minors.[3][4] He has released many solo albums as well.[5][6]

Although a musician of great reputation and accomplishment, Chick Ganimian is very poorly represented on recordings[citation needed]. There are a few Nor-Ikes 78's, the great LP Come with me to the Casbah, the two LPs he recorded as a "side man" with jazz flautist Herbie Mann, and a few privately produced independent recordings.


Unfortunately, his dependence on alcohol had a debilitating effect on his ability to earn a living, and later on his health. Ganimian died in late 1989 while a resident of the Armenian Nursing Home in northern New Jersey.