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|Birth name||Vigen Derderian|
|Also known as||Vigen|
November 23, 1929|
|Died||October 26, 2003
Los Angeles, United States
Vigen or Viguen, born Vigen Derderian (Persian: ویگن دردریان ; Armenian: Վիգեն Դէրդէրեան) (November 23, 1929 - October 26, 2003), known as "Sultan of Pop" and "Sultan of Persian jazz", was an immensely popular Iranian pop music singer and actor, well known throughout the Near East.
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 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 and 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 who was also older than Vigen and he was a 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—then under Soviet occupation—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 best music to date.
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. More than 600 songs were to follow during his long career. Some of them, such as "Gole Sorkh" (Red Rose), "Ragheeb" (Rival), and "Awaz E Kahn" (The Singer) are considered evergreens among all Iranian songs.
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's unassuming charm and his warm voice played a major role in ensuring him continued success and many of his songs became iconic among Iran's most notable folk music. He was consistently voted the most popular singer and songwriter of the country by an overwhelming majority of Iranians. Among his notable songs are "Baroon Barooneh" (It's raining), "Asbeh Ablagh" (thoroughbred horse), "Mahtab" (Moonlight), Lala'ee (Lullaby), and "Deleh Divaneh" (crazy heart.)
Vigen immigrated to the United States in 1971 settling in California. He would return to Iran yearly to do concerts and perform in their Vegas styled night clubs until the Islamic Revolution of 1979, never to return. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his career at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles in February 2001.
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. He is survived by his wife Karen, one son, four daughters, one stepdaughter and four grandchildren.
- Vigen Death in BBC
- Vigen Biography on BBC Persian
- Vigen Bio on Iranian Chamber
- Sheet Music of songs by Viguen