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Background information
Birth nameViguen Derderian
Born(1929-11-23)23 November 1929
Hamadan, Imperial Iran
Died26 October 2003(2003-10-26) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Singer
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1951–2001

Viguen (born Viguen Derderian, Persian: ویگن دردریان, Viguen Derderyân; Armenian: Վիգէն Տէրտէրեան,[a][2] Vigen Tērtērian;[3] 23 November 1929 – 26 October 2003), known as "King of Iranian pop" and the "Sultan of Jazz", was an Iranian pop music singer and actor, well known throughout the Near East.[4] Viguen sang both in Persian and Armenian.[4]

Viguen was of Iranian-Armenian ethnicity and during the golden age of Persian pop (the early 1970s) until the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many Iranian performers and celebrities—among them Delkash, Pouran, and Elaheh—yearned to be associated with him.

Viguen'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.[5]

Early life[edit]

Viguen was born into an Iranian-Armenian family of eight children in the western Iranian city of Hamadan.[5] His father died of complications related to pneumonia when Viguen was only eight years old.[5] His mother and older brother Zaven raised him after moving away from the family property due to a family disagreement. His older brother Karo was a well-known Iranian poet and wrote the lyrics for Viguen'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.[5] This is where Viguen 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.[6]

Artistic rising[edit]

In his mid teens, Viguen 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.[5]

Equated to Elvis Presley by some fans in Iran, Viguen'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.[5]

Later works[edit]

Viguen moved 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 the United States 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.[5]

Some of his most notable songs are "Baroon Barooneh" (It's Raining), "Asb-e Ablagh" (Thoroughbred Horse), "Mahtab" (Moonlight), Lala'ee (Lullaby), "Gol-e Sorkh" (Red Rose), "Ragheeb" (Rival), "Simin-bari", "Awazekhan" (The Singer) and "Del-e Divaneh" (Crazy Heart). More than 600 songs were recorded during his long career.


Viguen's cinematic debut came in 1955 when he was discovered by the prominent Armenian-Iranian director Samuel Khachikian for a role in his film "Chaharrah-e 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), "Tappeh-eh Eshgh" (1959, Khachikian), "Arshin Malalan" and "Cheshmeh Oshagh" (1960, Samad Sabahi),"Atash Khakestar" (1961, Khosro Parizi), "Arooseh Darya" (1965, Arman). He later on founded "Viguen Film" to produce his own movies but did not pursue the enterprise.[citation needed]'


Year Original film title English film title / translation Notes
1955 Chaharrah-e Havades The Crossroad of Events [7] Viguen's cinematic debut came in 1955, when he was discovered by the prominent Armenian-Iranian director Samuel Khachikian for a role in this film.
1955 Khoon va Sharaf Blood and Honor [8]
1959 Tappe-ye Eshq The Hill of Love [9]
1965 Aroos-e Darya The Bride of the Sea [10]
1969 Atash va khakestar Fire and Ashes

Personal life[edit]

His first wife was named Olga and they had three daughters together, including actress Aylin (also known as Eileen or Ailen), Aylin's fraternal twin sister, singer Jaklin Munns (also known as Jacqueline), and Katrin. His second wife was named Nadia and they had one daughter named, Evelyn, and one son named Edwin Derderian.[11] His third wife was Karen Holston Derderian (1951–2015)[12] and he had a step-daughter, Robin Navonne Brakefield.[11]


Viguen died at home on 26 October 2003 from cancer and was buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Cemetery in Westlake Village, California.[6] 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 the TV series Mission Impossible.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In classical orthography, which is in use by the Eastern Armenian-speaking Iranian Armenian community; Վիգեն Տերտերյան[citation needed] or Վիգեն Տերտերեան in reformed orthography; Վիգէն Դէրդէրեան or Վիգէն Տէրտէրեան[1] in Western Armenian.


  1. ^ "50 տարի առաջ.... [50 Years Ago....]". Azat Or Archive (in Western Armenian). Azat Or. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Viguen Armenian Songs". Spotify. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  3. ^ Abrahamyan, Lusine (1 September 2011). "Milanda de Mont: "My life is art, art is my life"". Hayern Aysor. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019. [...] most of my relatives are artists. Vigen Terterian is my mother's uncle's son.
  4. ^ a b Saba, Sadeq (27 October 2003). "Iranian pop legend dies at 74". BBC News. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Sadeq Saba (26 November 2003). "Obituary: Vigen Derderian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Iran Chamber Society page on Vigen Derderian". Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  7. ^ "The Crossroad of Events". IMDb. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Blood and Honor". IMDb. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  9. ^ "The Hill of Love". IMDb. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  10. ^ "The Bride of the Sea". IMDb. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b Zinder, Jac (19 March 1992). "The King of Persian Pop: Never a Dull Nouruz". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Karen Derderian Obituary". Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park, Mortuary & Crematory. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Vigen, Iran's King of Pop Passed Away". Iran Dokht. Iran Dokht. 2003. Retrieved 18 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

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