Daron Malakian

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Daron Malakian
Malakian performing with System of a Down in 2011
Malakian performing with System of a Down in 2011
Background information
Born (1975-07-18) July 18, 1975 (age 46)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • drums
  • keyboards
Years active1990–present

Daron Vartan Malakian (born July 18, 1975) is an Armenian-American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist, songwriter and second vocalist of metal band System of a Down, and as the lead vocalist, lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter of Scars on Broadway. Malakian is known for his distinctive playing and is ranked 47th in Loudwire's list of "Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time"[1] and number 11 in MusicRadar's poll "The 20 Greatest Metal Guitarists Ever".[2] He is placed 30th in Guitar World's list of "The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time".[3]


Daron Vartan Malakian was born in Hollywood, California, the only child to Vartan and Zepur Malakian. His parents are ethnic Armenian immigrants.[4] Vartan Malakian is a painter, dancer, and choreographer and Zepur Malakian is a sculptor who instructed college-level sculpture earlier in her career.[4] At a very early age, Malakian got into heavy metal music; his distant cousin played him a Kiss record when he was four years old. Malakian started listening to Van Halen, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and Ozzy Osbourne among others. He always wanted to play the drums, but his parents got him a guitar instead because "You can't turn the drums off." Daron first picked up a guitar at age 11,[5] saying in an interview, "For the first year and a half, I learned how to play by ear, and did alright. After a few years I gained a reputation as being a guitar player in high school. And by 16 or 17 I actually realized it was a good songwriting instrument, and, over anything, that's what I feel like. I don't pretend to be Mr. Guitar Virtuoso."[6] During his teens Malakian listened to thrash metal bands such as Slayer,[5] Venom, Metallica,[5] and groove metal bands like Pantera and Sepultura. Malakian then began listening to The Beatles and cites John Lennon as one of his biggest influences as a songwriter.[5] He also cites other British Invasion bands such as The Kinks[6] and The Who[5][6] as major influences as well as folk-rock such as trio Peter, Paul and Mary and punk pioneer Iggy Pop.[5] Malakian went to Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in the Los Feliz side of Hollywood, which his future bandmates Shavo Odadjian and Ontronik "Andy" Khachaturian (System of a Down's original drummer) also attended.[5] System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian attended the school as well, but he was many years above Malakian and the others.[5] Malakian attended Glendale High School as a teenager.[5]

System of a Down[edit]

Malakian met Serj Tankian in 1993, while they both shared the same rehearsal studio in different bands. Tankian was playing keyboard for a band, and Malakian was playing guitar and singing for another band. They formed a jam band called Soil with bassist Dave Hakopyan and drummer Domingo Laraino. Shavo Odadjian then became their manager, and then rhythm guitarist.[5] Soil broke up and Malakian, Tankian, and Odadjian (who switched to bass) formed a new band using the name "System of a Down", based on a poem that Malakian wrote.[5] The poem's title was "Victims of a Down" but Odadjian thought "system" was a stronger word than "victims". They then recruited drummer Andy Khachaturian, who was replaced by John Dolmayan in 1997.

Malakian co-produced System of a Down's albums with Rick Rubin,[7] as well as albums by The Ambulance and Bad Acid Trip (a band on fellow member Serj Tankian's Serjical Strike Records).[5] In 2003, Malakian started his own label, EatUrMusic, on which Amen was the first signed band.[5] The label is now inactive and its current status is unknown.

Malakian playing with System of a Down in 2006

Scars on Broadway[edit]

In 2003, Daron Malakian (lead guitar and vocals), Greg Kelso (rhythm guitar), Casey Chaos (vocals), and Zach Hill (drums) recorded a demo tape entitled Ghetto Blaster Rehearsals, credited to the name Scars on Broadway. However, in 2007, an official letter appeared on the band's website that stated that these tracks are not in any way affiliated with Malakian's later project Scars on Broadway. Incidentally, these demo sessions produced "B.Y.O.B.", which would be a major hit for System of a Down in 2005.

Following System's hiatus, Malakian announced his latest project – Scars on Broadway – a band which would include System of a Down bassist, Shavo Odadjian, and himself. Ultimately, Odadjian was not involved with the band, and instead System of a Down drummer, John Dolmayan became a member. After Malakian and Dolmayan experimented with different musicians (for a period of nine months in 2007 – 2008) the band took form and forged its sound in intense rehearsals and recording sessions (under Malakian's direction at his home studio and Sunset Sound) with musicians Danny Shamoun on keyboards, Dominic Cifarelli on bass, and Franky Perez on guitar and backing vocals for live performances (in the studio Malakian played nearly all the instruments with the exception of drums which were played by Dolmayan and some overdubs provided by the other members). The group released an eponymous album in 2008, which featured the hit single "They Say" (written by Malakian). However, shortly before the tour supporting the album, Malakian cancelled all scheduled concert and TV appearances, blaming a lack of enthusiasm and that his "heart wasn't into touring."[8] This sudden cancellation prompted speculation and rumors that the band had broken up. It was the last that would be heard of Malakian for more than a year.

Malakian stayed out of the public eye following his cancellation of the tour in support of Scars on Broadway's debut album in October 2008. In 2009 Malakian made a surprise appearance (his first in a year) at Shavo Odadjian's Halloween Party and played "Suite-Pee", "They Say", and an unknown song with Odadjian, Dolmayan and Scars on Broadway's Franky Perez on guitar. It was the first time that the band members (minus Tankian, who was working on his second solo album) performed together in more than three years.

In August 2009, Scars on Broadway, minus Malakian, traveled to Iraq for a USO tour across the U.S. army bases. Their setlist consisted of covers as well as a few Scars songs. Guitarist/vocalist Franky Perez stated on his Twitter that "the Scars tunes sound amazing but they're not the same without D..." He also stated before they left that Malakian had given them his blessing. In 2009 Franky Perez mentioned on his Twitter that he and the D-Man (Malakian) were going into studio to jam, this was the first news people have heard about Malakian's whereabouts for about a year.

On November 20, 2009, Malakian played at the Chi Cheng Benefit concert along with Deftones, and also performed with Odadjian and Dolmayan. Malakian, Odadjian, and Dolmayan played "Aerials" and "Toxicity". He appeared on Cypress Hill's 2010 album Rise Up, on one song, "Trouble Seeker", which he also produced.

On May 2, 2010, Malakian reunited with Scars on Broadway at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. It was the first time he had performed with the band since October 2008. The group played songs from their album as well as new songs. Odadjian performed with the band for two songs, playing guitar. On August 20, 2010, Malakian played in Hollywood with Scars on Broadway. On November 29, 2010, it was announced that System of a Down would reunite for a European tour to take place in June 2011.[9] They played at the Download Festival on June 11, 2011. Despite playing a number of reunion shows, the band had no plans to record new material. In October 2011, John Dolmayan expressed his interest in writing new material but cited that band members are all busy with their other projects (such as Daron's Scars on Broadway and Serj Tankian's solo efforts).[10]

On July 29, 2010, Scars on Broadway released their first new studio recording in exactly two years, a Malakian-penned song called "Fucking". On February 24, 2012, System of a Down announced that the Scars on Broadway website was back online featuring a preview of a new song called "Guns Are Loaded".

In 2014, he appeared on Linkin Park's sixth studio album The Hunting Party, for which he provided additional guitars for the promotional single "Rebellion". The promotional single was self-produced by Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson. On August 18, 2016, Malakian performed with the Los Angeles-based alternative music project Millennials[11]

On October 28, 2017, Malakian performed with the surviving members of Linkin Park which played a show at the Hollywood Bowl dedicated to the passing of their frontman Chester Bennington. He performed "Rebellion" alongside SOAD bassist Shavo Odadjian.[12]

On April 23, 2018, Malakian released a song with Scars on Broadway called "Lives" about the history and culture of Armenia.[13] On July 20, 2018, Malakian and Scars on Broadway released the album Dictator.

Personal life[edit]

Unlike the rest of System of a Down, Malakian is not married and has no children.[14]

Malakian is a lifelong fan of the Edmonton Oilers and has a large collection of Oilers-related memorabilia.[15][16]



Year Featured in single Peak positions Album
2010 Trouble Seeker
(Cypress Hill featuring Daron Malakian)
Rise Up
2014 Rebellion
(Linkin Park featuring Daron Malakian)
83 The Hunting Party

System of a Down[edit]

Scars on Broadway[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

Year Artist Song Release and/or explanation
Live performances
2000 Metallica (featuring Jonathan Davis and Daron Malakian) "One"
Metallica (featuring Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian) "Mastertarium"
2003 Metallica (featuring Shavo Odadjian and Daron Malakian) "Creeping Death" Reading Festival 2003
The Ambulance (featuring Daron Malakian) "Stop"
2010 Cypress Hill "Trouble Seeker" Rise Up
2014 Linkin Park Rebellion The Hunting Party
2017 Linkin Park (featuring Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian and Frank Zummo) Rebellion Linkin Park and Friends: Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington

Production credits[edit]

Malakian has also produced a number of albums.

Year Album Artist Credit(s)
1998 System of a Down System of a Down Producer (credited as System of a Down)
2001 Toxicity Producer
2002 Steal This Album!
2004 Death Before Musick Amen Executive producer and A&R
Lynch the Weirdo Bad Acid Trip Producer
2005 Mezmerize System of a Down
2008 Scars on Broadway Scars on Broadway
2018 Dictator Scars on Broadway Producer

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time". Loudwire.
  2. ^ "The 20 Greatest Metal Guitarists Ever".
  3. ^ "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time". Blabbermouth.net. January 23, 2004. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Gowing, Liam (March 2, 2006). "His son has got him covered – System of a Down's artist of choice is Vartan Malakian, the guitarist's dad". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Mike Lancaster (March 28, 2003). "The Daron Malakian Interview". Glendale High School Newspaper-the Explosion. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "Daron: "Total Guitar" Interview". Total Guitar. 2002. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  7. ^ Rex Rutkoski. "Daron Malakian's Music Canvas". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  8. ^ "Scars on Broadway's Daron Malakin Has 'Compelling Reason' For Cancelling Tour". Blabbermouth.net. October 9, 2008. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  9. ^ "System of a Down". System of a Down. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "System of a Down Drummer on New Studio Album: 'It's Gonna Happen When It's Right'". Blabbermouth.net. October 3, 2011. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  11. ^ SYSTEM OF A DOWN's DARON MALAKIAN Performs With MILLENNIALS In West Hollywood
  12. ^ "Linkin Park Setlist at Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood". setlist.fm.
  13. ^ Scars On Broadway (April 23, 2018). "Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway - Lives (Official Video)" – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Daly, Joe. "Why Daron Malakian has resurrected Scars On Broadway". Metal Hammer. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  15. ^ BeanJolie. "Daron Malakian shows his living room/Oilers shrine". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  16. ^ BeanJolie. "Daron Malakian at Rexall Hall for Edmonton Oilers tour". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  17. ^ "Daron Malakian discography". lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 18, 2014.