Born in Novorossiysk, Russian SSR, to a Russian father and an Armenian mother, Fontikov moved to Yerevan, Armenian SSR in 1943 and lived there until 1962, when he began his studies at the Moscow Conservatory. He studied under the direction of prominent Soviet singer and teacher Lev Arakelov and made his debut in Moscow in 1971 under the role of Boris Gudunov, in Moddest Mussorgsky's famous opera, a role he would perform once again throughout the course of his life. Fontikov spent his life between Armenia and Russia and spoke both Armenian and Russian fluently. His operatic talents and his deep sonorous voice made him very famous throughout the USSR, and Eastern Europe. Refusing to perform outside the Eastern Block, Fontikov was limited to only a few performances a year, but his popularity remained. He died in 1987 in a car accident outside of Yerevan.