23 November 1929
Hamadān, Iran, Islamic Republic of
26 October 2003 (aged 73)
Vigen Derderian (in other spellings: Viguen, Persian: ویگن) (November 23, 1929 - October 26, 2003), known as "Sultan of Persian Pop" and "Sultan of Persian jazz", was a hugely popular Armenian-Iranian pop music singer. He is famous throughout the Near East.
Born into a relatively poor family of 8 children in city of Hamadān, Iran. Vigen was brought up by his older brother, after his father died when he was seven. During the second world war, his family moved to the northern city of Tabriz then under invasion of the soviet army. He bought his first guitar from a soviet soldier. Later on he was widely listening to Italian and Spanish singers and using and modifying their music to perform with Persian lyrics. His brother Karo Derderian was a poet, the Lalaee (Lullaby) lyrics were written by him.
By 1951, Vigen had got his first job, performing at the Café Shemiran. One night, a national radio producer heard him, with the result that his 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), Raghib (Rival) and Dele Divaneh (Crazy Heart), have become classic Iranian popular songs.
In that era, every Iranian artist wanted to be associated with him, among them the country's most established top female singers, Delkash, Pouran and Elaheh. The legendary Vigen Derderian worked with the best Iranian songwriters and composers, who realised they had to cater for a new youth market, and performed some of his country's most memorable songs.
Before the emergence in the early 1950s of Vigen Derderian, the music industry of his native Iran was dominated by traditional singers, who had little knowledge of western pop music or such instruments as the guitar. Then Vigen, known as the "Sultan of pop", ushered in a revolution that coincided with the emergence of a new, western-influenced middle class.
Compared by some fans to Elvis Presley, Vigen's good looks and tall, fine physique added to his appeal as Iran's first male pop star - especially among women at a time when ideas of emancipation were taking hold in the 1950s and 60s. He was also one of the first Iranian entertainers to perform with a guitar.
Vigen died at the age of 73 on October 26, 2003 from cancer in exile and is buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Cemetery in Westlake Village, California
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