(February 1, 1948 – January 19, 2015)
John was an Armenian Los Angeles-based musician and composer. Most renowned as a oud master, he also played the violin, mandolin, dumbek. He was also a traditional and contemporary singer singing in Armenian, but also in Turkish, Assyrian/Syriac, English and known for his contributions to world music as a solo act and in collaborations with renowned artists. He established his own record company, Dantz Records in Laguna Hills, California making many recording, and appearing in tens of film soundtracks.
Collaborations included Leonard Cohen in Recent Songs (1979) after touring with him on his live concerts, resulting in Cohen Live album in 1994 and The Smokey Life Tour recorded in 1979. He played oud in Cohen's 1988 album I'm Your Man. In 1992, he collaborated with British singer Robert Palmer in the latter's album Ridin' High, where he played oud and dumbek in "Want You More". In 1997, he recorded with Mexican singer Luis Miguel in the latter's album playing mandolin in Romances and in 1994 with Plácido Domingo in De Mi Alma Latina and in 1999 in Por Amor.
In 2002, he joined the world music band Brothers of the Baladi recording in their album Hope. He also played with the Armenian-American musician Armen Chakmakian and singers Roupen Altiparmakian and Andy Madadian
He played with many orchestras including The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, The Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra, The Pacific Palisades Symphony. In 2005 he played with the Boston Pops Orchestra as featured soloist, marking the first time the oud was heard in a solo capacity with that orchestra on its stage. He later appeared as a bouzouki soloist with The Pasadena Pops Orchestra. He has played in recordings by Alberto Mizrahi, Brothers of the Baladi, Steve Young, David Such, Radim Zenkl.
Now in existence for only 3 years, The John Bilezikjian Foundation continues to strive to expand its programs and offerings to the community. We hope that you will be able to take part in one or more of the many projects that we are offering this year and experience firsthand the pride we take in supporting our cause.