Avo Uvezian was known to us as the maker of some of the finest premium cigars, but to many, Avo was much more. Born in 1926 in Beirut, Avo Uvezian was an accomplished and highly respected jazz pianist. Both Avo's parents were musically inclined. His father was a composer and conductor of an orchestra and his mother was an accomplished singer. As a young boy, Avo traveled the country performing all over the Middle East. Eventually, he joined a boys group called, “Liban Boys”. They traveled the country and eventually received a contract to play in a Baghdad hotel. From there, they received an invitation to play for the Shah of Iran, where Avo became the personal pianist for the Shah. Then in 1947, Avo was able to travel to the U.S and become a legalized citizen. This allowed Avo to attend school at the prestigious, Julliard School of Music in New York, where he studied classical piano as well as music composition.
However, The Korean War forced Avo to put his music career on hold, as he was drafted into the infantry. One day while playing the piano, one of Avo's officers over-heard him and was blown away by his talent. It was not long after Avo was taken out of the infantry and placed into band training. When he arrived in Korea, Avo play at the Officers Club where he received accolades from all his superiors for his musical talents. In 1953, Avo was honorably discharged and was free once again to pursue his dream of music. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, Avo played with all the great jazz musicians of the period. Avo was not just limited to his talents at the piano, he wrote songs, one of his finest being, “Broken Guitar” which just so happened to be the early version of "Strangers in the Night," which Frank Sinatra recorded and released in the mid 1960's.
Avo's talents went well beyond music, as he was a businessman at heart. In the early 1980's, he spent some time in Switzerland where his daughter was christened. While celebrating with a friend, he bought several Cuban cigars and was disgusted by the price. During this same time period, Avo traveled to Puerto Rico where he opened his own restaurant and piano bar. It's at this point that Avo truly discovered his love of fine cigars and began to offer his own Avo hand-rolled cigars to his guests. They quickly became so popular that he decided he needed to move beyond just simply offering small quantities of hand rolled cigars at his restaurant. He needed a manufacturing facility that could produce his premium hand rolled cigars; cigars worthy of bearing the Avo name.
His journey took him to the Dominican Republic where for two years he searched before finally meeting Hendrik Kelner. In his words, the partnership with Hendrik was, "Success in perfect harmony". Avo's first cigar line was released in 1988, in New York City.
Just like in his music career, Avo was a perfectionist. His career launch into cigars was and is no different. He first and foremost chose only the finest tobacco for his cigars. This paid off in a huge way. By the mid 1990's, the Avo cigar brand was selling millions of cigars per year and was receiving high praise from the cigar industry. Today, his recipe for success has never changed. His cigars are still highly sought after and continue to receive the highest industry marks. With lines like his Avo Lounge Edition, Avo 787, and Avo LE 85th Anniversary cigar, it's plain to see that Avo Uvezian has not only committed himself to his craft, but was committed to producing only the finest premium cigars that we have all come to know and love, and they are simply called, Avo.
Avo Uvezian passed away on March 24, 2017, at the age of 91. He will be missed dearly by everybody in the cigar industry.