Daron Vartan Malakian (born July 18, 1975) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist, songwriter and second vocalist of the metal band System of a Down and as the lead vocalist, lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter of the band Scars on Broadway. Malakian is known for his distinctive playing and is ranked 14th in Loudwire's list of Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time and number 11 in MusicRadar's poll, The 20 Greatest Metal Guitarists Ever. He is placed 30th in Guitar World's list of The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time.
Daron Vartan Malakian was born on July 18, 1975, in Hollywood, the only child to Vartan and Zepur Malakian. His parents are ethnic Armenian immigrants originally from Iraq. Vartan Malakian is a painter, dancer, and choreographer and Zepur Malakian is a sculptor who instructed college-level sculpture earlier in her career. At a very early age, Malakian got into heavy metal music; his distant cousin played him a Kiss record when he was four years old. Malakian started listening to Van Halen, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and Ozzy Osbourne among others. He always wanted to play the drums, but his parents got him a guitar instead because "You can't turn the drums off." Daron first picked up a guitar at age 11, saying in an interview, "For the first year and a half, I learned how to play by ear, and did alright. After a few years I gained a reputation as being a guitar player in high school. And by 16 or 17 I actually realized it was a good songwriting instrument, and, over anything, that's what I feel like. I don't pretend to be Mr. Guitar Virtuoso." During his teens Malakian listened to thrash metal bands such as Slayer, Venom, Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura. Malakian then began listening to The Beatles and cites John Lennon as one of his biggest influences as a songwriter. He also cites other British Invasion bands such as The Kinks and The Who as major influences as well as folk-rock such as trio Peter, Paul and Mary and punk pioneer Iggy Pop. Daron went to Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in the Los Feliz side of Hollywood, which his future bandmates Shavo Odadjian and Ontronik "Andy" Khachaturian (System of a Down's original drummer) also attended. System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian attended the school as well, but he was many years above Malakian and the others. Malakian attended Glendale High School as a teenager. He is a lifelong fan of the Edmonton Oilers and has a large collection of Oilers-related memorabilia.