|Birth name||Vigen Derderian|
|Also known as||Viguen, Vigen|
November 23, 1929|
|Died||October 26, 2003
Los Angeles, California, United States
Vigen or Viguen, born Vigen Derderian (Persian: Vigen Derderiān - ویگن دردریان ; Armenian: Վիգեն Դէրդէրեան) (November 23, 1929 - October 26, 2003), known as "King of Iranian pop" and the "Sultan of Jazz", was an immensely popular Iranian pop music singer and actor, well known throughout the Near East. Vigen sang both in Persian and Armenian.
Vigen was an Iranian of Armenian ethnicity and during the golden age of Persian pop (early 1970s) until the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many Iranian performers and celebrities—among them Delkash, Pouran, and Elaheh—yearned to be associated with him.
Vigen's innovative and upbeat style of music had a great influence on paving the way for a new genre of Iranian music, influenced by Western European and Latin American styles. His musical and performing talents soon captured the attention of many prominent Iranian lyricists and composers such as Parveez Vakili and Kareem Fakkour, and together they created some of Iran's most memorable songs.
Vigen was born into a relatively affluent Armenian family of eight children in the western Iranian city of Hamadan. His father died due to complications to pneumonia when Vigen was only eight years old. He was raised by his older brother, Zaven and his mother after moving away from the family property because of a disagreement with her father. Karo Derderian, Vigen's older brother was a well known Iranian poet and wrote the lyrics for Vigen's signature song, "Lala'ee" (Lullaby). During World War II, the family moved to the northern city of Tabriz where local Azerbaijani nationalists declared the area a separatist republic, with the help of the occupying Soviet forces. This is where Vigen bought his first guitar from a Russian soldier and discovered his affinity for American, Italian and Spanish music and adopted many of those melodies for his songs with Persian lyrics that became some of Iran's most popular music to date.
His first wife was named Olga and they had five children together. The four daughters, including actress Aylin Vigen (also known as Eileen Vigen or Ailen Vigen), Aylin's fraternal twin sister, singer Jaklin Munns (also known as Jaklin Vigen, Jacqueline Vigen), Katrin Vigen, Evelyn Vigen, and one son named Edwin Derderian. His second wife is Karen Derderian (b. Jan 27, 1951 in Mississippi, neé Karen Holston) and he had a step-daughter Robin Navonne Brakefield.
In his mid teens, Vigen moved to Tehran and in 1951 he was hired to perform at the Café Shemiran, an upscale restaurant & bar on the northern outskirts of the capital city. One fateful day while picnicking by the sea with his family and friend-songwriter Nasser Rastegarenejad, he was discovered by a national radio network producer, Mr. Vahkili and his very first song, "Mahtab" (Moonlight), was broadcast on Tehran radio - and became an instant hit.
Equated to Elvis Presley by some fans in Iran, Vigen's debonair looks and his tall and athletic physique added to his appeal as Iran's first male pop star - particularly among young Iranian women at a time when ideas of emancipation and liberalism were taking hold in the 1950s and 60s. He was also one of the first Iranian entertainers to perform with a guitar.
Vigen immigrated to the United States in 1971 and settled in California. He would return to Iran yearly to do concerts and perform in Vegas-styled nightclubs. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, he was exiled to California because pop music was no longer allowed in Iran. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his career at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles in February 2001.
Some of his most notable songs are "Baroon Barooneh" (It's Raining), "Asbeh Ablagh" (Thoroughbred Horse), "Mahtab" (Moonlight), Lala'ee (Lullaby), "Gole Sorkh" (Red Rose), "Ragheeb" (Rival), "Awaz E Kahn" (The Singer) and "Deleh Divaneh" (Crazy Heart). More than 600 songs were recorded during his long career.
Vigen's cinematic debut came in 1955 when he was discovered by the prominent Armenian-Iranian director Samuel Khachikian for a role in his film "Chaharrahe Havades" (Crossroads of Incidents). In later years, he played roles in many other motion pictures by Khachikian and other producers, among them "Zalembala" (1956, Siamak Yasami), "Tappeheh Eshgh" (1960, Khachikian), "Arshin Malalan" and "Cheshmeh Oshagh" (1960, Samad Sabahi),"Atash Khakestar" (1961, Khosro Parizi), "Arooseh Darya" (1965, Arman). He later on founded "Vigen film" to produce his own movies but did not pursue the enterprise.
Vigen died at home on October 26, 2003 from cancer and was buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Cemetery in Westlake Village, California. At the time of his death he had recorded more than six hundred songs, starred in six motion pictures and made guest appearances on various popular TV shows including The Bob Hope Show, The Jack Benny Show and Mission Impossible.
- Saba, Sadeq (Oct 27, 2003). "Iranian pop legend dies at 74". BBC News. BBC News. Retrieved Aug 18, 2014.
- Sadeq Saba (November 26, 2003). "Obituary: Vigen Derderian | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- "Iran Chamber Society page on Vigen Derderian". Iranchamber.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- Zinder, Jac (March 19, 1992). "The King of Persian Pop: Never a Dull Nouruz". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved Aug 18, 2014.
- "Vigen, Iran’s King of Pop Passed Away". Iran Dokht. Iran Dokht. 2003. Retrieved Aug 18, 2014.
- Vigen Death in BBC
- Vigen Biography on BBC Persian
- Vigen Bio on Iranian Chamber
- Sheet Music of songs by Viguen