Aug 192011
John Bilezikjian and the Halehs in 1963

Early 1963 photo of John Bilezikjian’s first band, The Halehs. The young band was performing at Milliken Junior High School in Van Nuys, CA. From the left, John Belezikjian on the oud, his brother Edward Bilezikjian on clarinet and Michael Tolegian on dumbeg.

1963. Four boys stepped on the Milliken Junior High School stage in Van Nuys, California and took their positions, shyly grinning at their friends scattered about the auditorium. John Bilezikjian, set his strange looking instrument firmly on his lap, nodded at his buddies, and the music began.

2011. The music continues

It began as the dream of a 10-year-old Valley boy when he created his first band, The Halehs. The boy never looked back and for nearly 50 years, John Bilezikjian has set his unique instrument, the oud, on his lap and entertained audiences worldwide – on stage, cabaret, in concert halls, recordings and movie soundtracks.

Bilezikijian chuckles as he recalls his early days.

In 1963, at St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles we were so happy and excited that we were hired to perform. We each earned $8.00 plus a Shish Kebab Dinner.”

He never lost that early thrill, the excitement in the moment before his fingers settled on the strings of his instrument. An ancient folk instrument of the Middle East, the oud’s Persian roots reach back 2,000 years.

Bilezikijian has taken the instrument beyond its traditional audience and repertoire into areas as disparate as music of the Sephardim and Russia. He has transcribed and performed classical European pieces whose writers had never even heard of the oud.  He has also ventured into the other end of the musical spectrum by performing with Little Richard, Robert Palmer and Leonard Cohen.

Filmgoers have been listening to him for years. Blackhawk Down, Must Love Dogs, Beowulf, The Mummy, Hidalgo, Aladdin, and Schindler’s List are just a few of the soundtracks to which he has contributed.

John Bilezikjian in concert 2011On August 21, 2011, John Bilezikjian will be performing in concert at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center.  In celebration of the 50 years he has dedicated to music, the concert will include friends with whom he has performed over the years, including members of his first band, the Halehs, formed when he was 10 years old.

For information on the upcoming concert, please visit or call 1-855-OUD-DIST (1-855-683-3478).

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