WATERTOWN, Mass.—Seven years after his death, the music of Roger Krikorian is still being heard and appreciated.
Just released was a two-CD compilation of the artist’s favorite recordings, which could certainly qualify for some of his best work over what amounted to a prolific 40-year career.
Family and friends came together to refine the product, which is being used for charity endeavors, not necessarily a commercial undertaking. They’re being given to Armenian newspapers, churches, and radio stations for sale in bookstores throughout the country. Were Roger alive, he would endorse the gesture highly.
Following his tragic ending in 2006, there’s been talk of various ways to remember this iconic musician. One idea was a scholarship fund, another an annual dance marathon featuring his many friends in the medium.
At last, on came the disks with 18 songs in all, mastered and recorded by Leon Janikian, joined by contributing artists Johnny Berberian, Mal Barsamian, Joe Kouyoumjian, Bruce Gigarjian, Paul Mooradian, Ara Dinkjian, Hachik Kazarian, Harry Bedrossian, George Kamanis, Jim King, William Naghli, and Ken Kalajian.
The jacket features a lithograph of the smiling Krikorian at the microphone with his fingers beating the dumbeg. The product remains untitled with simply his name.
Included are such hit songs as “Wedding Medley,” “Shek Mazerov” and “Linda, Linda.”
“I was always so happy to work with Roger,” Berberian reminisced. “He was not only a great musician, he was fun to be with, whether it was on stage or off. We traveled to South America as well as the entire country, from coast to coast. Most memorable were those events at the Cape organized by his brother. You could always see the joy on his face when he sang.”
Berberian went on to say how the Armenian musical scene, especially in New England, has definitely experienced a void after Roger’s death.
“His inimitable playing style and repertoire has been emulated by other aspiring musicians,” Berberian added. “That, in itself, is a great tribute to Roger. I will always miss him, not only as a colleague but as a ‘brother’ in good faith.”
When it came to Armenian music, Roger was a singing troubadour. He was a fixture at the AYF Olympics, ACYOA Sports Weekends, picnics, community dances, weddings, and virtually any place where a crowd gathered. It always made Roger happy to see people coming together for a good time.
Few could entertain the way this artist could—few could mobilize an event, heighten its spirit, and sweep an audience off its feet. It didn’t matter what side of the fence you were on, what organization you represented, or what motive you had.
Roger’s passion was clearly defined. He was the man with the golden hands and a voice to match. His hands worked magic on his instrument.
There was always his trademark smile as the line danced before him, often with the wink of an eye and a casual nod. Come break time, his hand was always extended, greeting his many friends. He could sing in four languages and exercised that ability to escape the mundane.
Few were so closely attached as Onnik Dinkjian, his crooner friend. The two had complemented one another for 25 years.
“Roger made me a better singer, no doubt about it,” Dinkjian said. “It was a God-given talent. He never studied music but was a key component of every orchestra he played. A lot of it had to do with his personality. The combination of voice and percussion always contributed to his artistry.”
In their 25 years together, Berberian couldn’t recall one missed engagement, much less a tardiness with his late colleague. Roger answered every call with diligence as if it were his mission. The show always went on, through sickness and in health.
“I can’t think of any musician who could match Roger’s versatility,” added Berberian. “His passion was the play, not the pay. These CDs define the very essence of his many talents.”