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Posted by Pulse Administration on September 9, 2011

Paul Baghdadlian Jr. – The Interview

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On June 28, the Armenian nation around the world woke up to devastating and heartbreaking news. Armenian singer and Legend Paul Baghdadlian had passed away after battling cancer. Armenians all around the world are still grieving in unison and although life goes on, we are still reminded everyday on how big of a loss we all suffered. I can only imagine what struggles his children are going through! Many questions are still unanswered, so we reached out to his son, Paul Jr. to get a little bit of an insight on Paul Baghdadlians career, family life and his last days.

On a personal note, I grew up with the Baghdadlian family. My parents were best friends with Paul and his wife Ani and I can remember spending endless nights and weekends with them. Paul Baghdadlian was truly an uncle to me and Paulig and Christopher are like my brothers. I will forever miss my Pol Amo and forever will be grateful for his gift to the Armenian people!

We here at Armenianpulse.com would like to point out that there is currently a court case underway for the estate of Paul Baghdadlian and some questions could not be answered at this time, thanks for your understanding.

Paul Baghdadlian Jr. The Interview Banner

Hi Paul, thank you so much for giving us your time today, we know this has been a painful struggle in your life and we thank you for answering some questions for your dads fans.

It’s a pleasure to be here Harout, thanks for having me.

Before we get to the last days of your dads life, I would like to talk about your early years and how having such a famous father has shaped your life. At what age did you realize your father was an icon?

I think it happened for me in my pre-teens, I was eleven or twelve, it was around the time when they had the Armenian music festival, Voske Ashoun. My dad & Harout Pamboukjian were the headliners this one time, and I remember we were running incredibly late. In his hurry, my dad missed the artist entrance & we ended up walking through the stadium bleachers.. at first the crowd was in shock, then the whispers and pointing began, by the time we hit the stadium floor we had thousands in attendance cheering our walk towards the stage! I cant remember who was singing when we made our entrance, but I’m sure he couldn’t have been happy.

Growing up, was it difficult having such a famous father?

At times, sure.. It was difficult when he traveled, which was constant.. It was also a tough task sharing him with the rest of the world.. I hate that we had such a turbulent relationship over these past 12 years, I always envied Isaac, Harout Pamboukjian’s son, I wish I could’ve been that close with my pop, learned more about life from his viewpoint. But in all honesty, I cant even imagine my life if he wasn’t who he was. I’m nobody, but the Jr next to my name represents greatness in the eyes of many Armenians around the world.. I take pride in that; when a couple tells me they first fell in love to a Paul song, I’ve even had someone tell me they conceived their first born son to one of his songs.. that’s life changing to hear.. The amount of lives he has impacted is truly astonishing.

I’ve also heard a lot of stories like that, do you think he ever realized how huge he REALLY was?

No doubt! it’s impossible not to know, when thousands upon thousands of people paid him the respect as an artist. Although he was definitely the type who loved to hear the praise, i think he knew from an early age that he had a gift. For me though, what made him stand out more through the years is that he really kept trying to reinvent himself, you could tell by listening to the way his music, lyrics, even his vibrato evolved over time. Oh yeah, he knew.. he was reminded of his remarkable gift from his fans over the course of forty years, constantly!

During the course of his life he released hundreds of songs. Do you have a personal favorite?

I have never been able to narrow it down to one, I don’t think I can narrow it down to ten! There’s so many, how do you pick one, or two? I can tell you this though, I have a definite favorite album, ‘Miayn Intz Siree’, Every song is better than the last, all live instruments, my favorite musicians & he’s murdering it with his range, like in Nazeli Aghchik, just a flawless album in my opinion. Arants Kez is my second favorite.

Arants Kez’ is also one of my favorite albums, lots of memories! Your dad wrote some of the most beautiful Armenian songs. Where did he get the inspiration for those haunting lyrics?

I don’t think anyone but him can answer that question.. But my guess is although extremely charismatic, charming, hilarious, he had a very sad, dark side.. I always assumed it was the result of his mother dying at a young age, my brother & I have been through that, you cant ever recover from that.. Growing up he was always surrounded by music, of all languages, I know he’s been heavily inspired professionally by Adiss Harmandian, George Wassouf & Joe Cocker just to name a few.. many of the lyrics were his, some were written by my mom, a few from Dzaghig, plus people would send him lyrics & music from around the world!

I would like to point out that my mom Nazely has also written a few songs, ‘Naz Aghchig’ and ‘Kaghdni Abroumner’ just to name a couple. In fact, In the early 90’s, she gave your dad her poetry book full of beautiful writings. One of my favorite songs is ‘Apsos Char Achker’, which was your mom’s creation. Which other songs did your mom help write?

She wrote a few, but by the time he was done with her version it wasn’t hers anymore! the one verse i remember being my favorite was “Karnan oreree bes du mishd baydzar mnas.. Tev arnes oo trchees oor vor du tsanganas.. Yerpek ko gyankum kesh orer du chunenas..” I remember i was younger, my dad surprised my mom with a new car, and he had hand written these lyrics on a piece of paper left on the dashboard.. she held on to that note as if it was the most valuable thing on the planet.. a few months later that song ‘Tchem Garogh’ was released on the ‘Sirem’ album and became an instant classic.

Wow, that is a beautiful story! In 2001, you released your own debut album. Was it ever your father’s dream for you to follow in his footsteps?

If it was he had a funny way of showing it. I truly believe that at times he himself was unhappy being a performer, it’s like the same aspects that many of us admire and wish we could experience were the root of his angst and pain. Many times he advised me to do bigger things with my life than just sing, and i understood what he meant.. When I sing, it’s usually an itch I get to perform. If I don’t scratch it, I’m not a very fun guy to be around. Although music is one of my most valued passions in life, performing live is just a hobby of mine. He was surprisingly supportive when I was about to release my album, he even came to the studio and did a duet with me! That was surreal. My father is my all-time idol, he came, sang the lyrics I had written, put me to shame and went home as if it never happened. I know I can never be like him, no one can ever be like him, and that’s a big part of why I don’t pursue performing aggressively.. If something comes along that makes sense, of course I’ll do it, it would be an honor. People are always ready to cast their judgments and start comparing, even though they’re the same people who know he was one of a kind, it’s not fair to compare any singer with him.. I have a project I’m working on, haters gonna hate regardless, but I wrote a song about my father, from a personal point of view. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to hit the studio, but it’s something I wanna do.

Well, i certainly can’t wait to hear that! There is a lot of misconceptions that the life of a singer is a glamorous one, but it is an extremely demanding career, we know that your dad worked very hard and he was the ultimate perfectionist. How much did that lifestyle contribute to your dad’s health problems?

I don’t think the career itself was the biggest problem. If there was one thing that came easy to him, it was singing & entertaining a crowd. It’s no secret that he was a heavy smoker and he enjoyed drinking.. I’m sure years of an unhealthy lifestyle easily contributed to the rapid decline in his health.. He never developed proper eating habits, even towards the end, the three months I stayed with him, he never had an appetite. Look, we are all responsible for the upkeep of our bodies & minds.. And yet, we all live with so many forms of unhealthiness. He had many warning signs through the years that should’ve shaken him to make some changes, but unfortunately for all of us, he was not able to preserve his health. But one thing I like to consider, in his fifty eight years of life, he’s probably really lived it like it was a hundred fifty eight years, traveled the world a thousand times over, lived the true rock star life, but in his own humble way.

When did he first receive his diagnosis?

He knew for close to a year.. Such a strong willed person, he truly believed he could take a year or two off, fight off his illness and come back better than ever. I joked with him that he should go retro and grow the afro out again for the comeback.. He was too proud to say it, but I’m sure he knew what was going on inside of him.. the body lets you know when things aren’t right.. When I would massage his feet to help him fall asleep, he would say, I am never gonna walk again, I know it. How am I gonna get out of this bed, much less get on a stage and sing?’ That was an emotional time I spent with him, in so many ways. I learned so much from how he was treating the last days of his life. Total class act, on his terms and ready to go whenever God called for him. His spirituality inspired me to find God in my life once again, after I abandoned Him ten years ago because of the death of my mom.. Who knew ten years later God had to take my dad in order for me to wake up and turn to Him once again, I had to go through these growing pains to really settle in to who I want to be. A good friend of mine told me this is now the third stage of my life, and I’m hopeful, with the guidance of God, third time’s the charm!

I hope and pray that it is Paulig! When did you first learn of his illness?

I was hearing rumors, just like everyone else.. Last year in August, i remember being on facebook and someone had posted a video of my dad performing somewhere, and the date was current, just a few days old.. i hadn’t spoken to him for about a year, we were unfortunately kept away from each other with hearsay & false gossip. I was genuinely curious as to how he was doing, so I clicked to see.. It was tough, the first time I watched it, he didn’t look like the same guy, skinny, frail, it took effort for me to focus on what he was saying, but when I caught a few words of his speech, I had to start it over.. He was talking about how this would be the last time he’d be performing there for a while.. He wanted to take a few years off, and work on his health issues.. It hurt me deeply to hear that.. He was touring like crazy towards the end of the last year, so I figured I would just wait & see him in Pasadena on New Years Eve, but that didn’t happen..

Sadly, he was too ill to perform. What a lot of people want to know is, why didn’t he get treatment sooner?

I have a ton of questions about what happened the one year we were separated.. There are only a few people who know for sure, but they are dishonest people who had more to gain from the man’s death, so I don’t think we’ll ever have all of our questions answered..

There have been rumors of what exactly he had. can you tell us what your father was diagnosed with originally?

I can’t. The people closest to him would not give me a straight answer as to what was really going on. My inclination was brain tumor, but then there was talk of lung cancer, he may have had a stroke, a lot of things were unclear. But i can tell you that lung cancer & respiratory failure were ruled as the causes of death.

How tragic Paulig! We heard he traveled to Lebanon and Syria to get treatment. Why did he choose that route?

He told me the people out there love him so much that they would find a way to cure him, even with just their will. Plus, the doctors here were not being very optimistic.. I feel like he didn’t have the right guidance. He was “taken” there for more than just health issues, but legally I have to be vague on this stuff, so I can’t say too much more. I was taken out of the picture, many years in advance, decisions were being made for him that ultimately were not in his best interest. He’s a very sweet & kind man, but the devil was constantly preying on him. The radiation he did overseas obviously didn’t help him much either.. I figured our last chance hope was non-traditional forms of therapy, alkalizing detox-s, acid killing chemicals, etc.. We went that route for less than a month, and I swear I was convinced it was working! I didn’t realize it at the time, but the devil got inside his brain, and convinced him that my form of therapy was not only not working, it was killing him faster. I should’ve been more alert, I had my suspicions as to what was going on, who knows? There may have been a chance for a happier outcome.

This is truly sad for us all to hear, your father, Paul Baghdadlian (God rest his soul) tragically passed away on June 28 to the great shock and sadness of Armenians all over the world. Can you tell us how you think your dad would like to be remembered?

Above all else, i think he would want to be remembered as someone who lived everyday of his glorious life spreading the message for Armenians to love one another, to support each other. His art is what made him well known, but through his art he was an advocate of promoting the love of our land, the importance of unity for our people. He always said if we loved & supported one another, no other race would be able to keep up with us! More than anything else he left me, he instilled a core love & appreciation of my heritage, and in the end, I feel, to truly make him proud of me, I need to do the same for our next generation.

And what in your opinion was his greatest contribution to Armenian music as a whole, was it his extraordinary songwriting ability, was it his passion and ability for his audience to feel every emotion, or his enormous influence on the singers that came after him?

All of the above! Just add to that, his huge heart, be it musically, spiritually, etc. Look, most singers I know swear by him, the love & support I have been swamped with on Facebook, his Official Fan Page that I operate, it’s what kept me going through this first month without him.. Everybody listened to him and interpreted his message, his emotions a totally different way.. Every song he has owns a different meaning to me, a different memory, a time in my life.. We all lost an artist who will never be replaced, but in addition to that, I lost my hero, my dad. Thank God there are so many videos and recordings! Every time I drive by Forest Lawn on the 134, and I’m listening to his songs, I roll my windows down and blast it.. I hope he can hear me, I hope he’s on my side in the battle I’m about to embark on..

Your father had planned to release a brand new CD during his 2010 New Years Eve performance, which never happened, can you tell us what happened to that CD and will we ever hear those songs?

It is currently in the wrong hands, but I am certain in a short period of time, thanks to the legal process i have begun, the tracks will be returned to its rightful owner, the estate of Paul Baghdadlian, which is composed of my brother Chris, my sister Verginie & myself. Everything of value he owned, his properties, cash, jewelry & even recordings have disappeared. Many laws were broken, a lot of shady stuff went down the last months of his life. I have not yet heard the new album’s recording yet, because for the three months I stayed there I was too busy tending to my father, but I am aware that he laid down vocal tracks as scratch. With all due respect to our talented group of Armenian singers, i feel my dad singing a scratch version is as moving & powerful than most other singers’ final edits. Once we obtain the legal rights to the unreleased tracks, I will be combining them with many never before heard tracks he had recorded over the last three decades, including the track ‘Anoushig Ani-s’, which he wrote, recorded & never released, as a gift to my mom. I plan to put out a collector’s edition box set, which is sure to be a great piece of memoribilia for the ultimate Paul fan. Stay tuned!

That box set is the best news I’ve heard today, that is sure to bring joy to his most loved fans, I want to thank you now for your efforts in preserving your dads legacy! You mentioned earlier that you wanted to spread the cause of our people, just like your dad did. Have you given any thought as to what you can do?

For the past ten years, I’ve dreamt of producing an AM based Armenian talk radio show in the Los Angeles area, and also broadcast it on the internet as well. After years of dedication & hard work, I was finally able to put together a talented group of young ARMOs, meaning young Armenians who live in America, and we are ready to move forward with the ARMO Show. In a few weeks, at www.armoshow.com, we will be airing a special broadcast of our show, a heartfelt tribute to our King of Love Songs, Paul Baghdadlian. Visit our website, or find us on Facebook, Twitter. We have some audio up there already to tease people with.

I fell in love with the Demo that you guys provided, no doubt it’s going to be a tremendous hit! We will all definitely check out the ARMO Show Paul. Thank you for giving us some insight with your point of view and may God give you strength in finding your ultimate goals in life. Thank you for speaking with us tonight.

Thank you Haroutig! You & your entire family has been there to see it all.. I love you guys and I wish you continued success here at Armenian Pulse!

We love you too Paul! Would you like to add anything to your father’s fans who are reading this from around the world?

Azk Siretsek, Iraroo Siretsek, Garmir Gabuyd Narnchakuyn Siretsek!

We want to thank Paul for his story and we hope you all enjoyed reading it, Here are just a few intimate family pictures of Paul Baghdadlian, courtesy of Paul Jr. Please click on an image to zoom in.

Paul Baghdadlian Jr Interview with Armenianpusle.com

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6 Responses to “Paul Baghdadlian Jr. – The Interview”

  1. ypoog says:

    hajookov gardase bravo shad abreg

  2. silva says:

    thanks a lot for your nice talks about our lover “paul” wish you all the best in your thoughts and aim in your life. God bless you

  3. anushik says:

    If honestly i didn’t guessed who Paul Baghdadlian, first time heard about him (better late than never) but thanks for that interesting interview Harout that i have honor to read & know about this armenian singer. Good luck to his son and as you said God rest his soul. with all respect A.H.

  4. Christina says:

    I always had this dream that Paul Baghdadlian would be one day singing at my wedding.. I grew up listening to his songs and every time I still here them, I get chills down my spine from the beautiful memories I have from when I was a child going to all the fun armenian parties with my family. He and his songs will never be forgotten. My wedding is finally coming up June 2nd, 2012. If he cant be there, his music will be. Rest in Peace Paul! And much love and support to his family

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