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System of a Down founder Serj Tankian was born on August 21, 1967, in Beirut, Lebanon. He and his family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1975. He studied marketing at California State University and started his own software company before beginning his music career with the formation of System of a Down in 1995. In 1998, System of a Down signed on to Rick Rubin's American imprint, and over the following seven years released five well-received albums, the second of which, Toxicity, thrust them into the forefront of the metal community, garnered a Grammy nomination, and sold millions of copies. Tankian utilized his success to influence the political world he often commented on lyrically by co-founding a nonprofit organization called Axis of Justice with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello. He remained active with System of a Down throughout the mid-2000s and also released a book of poetry, titled Cool Gardens, before SOAD chose, in May 2006, to go on hiatus of an undetermined length. Tankian made use of this sabbatical to record his first solo album, Elect the Dead, which was released in fall 2007. Three years later, Tankian teamed up with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra to release Elect the Dead Symphony, featuring songs from his solo debut backed by a live orchestra. Tankian's second solo album, Imperfect Harmonies, continued in the orchestral footsteps of his symphonically re-imagined debut. His third album, the more rock-oriented Harakiri, arrived in 2012. ~ Gregory McIntosh