KARACHI: Music icon, fashion designer, preacher – whatever you prefer to call him, Junaid Jamshed (JJ) is a name that will be remembered in Pakistan – and possibly all over the world, for ages to come. Today marks the first death anniversary of the iconic singer and the nation is deeply mourning his loss. From the artists he worked with to the people he crossed paths with in his everyday life, everyone knew JJ as a “genuinely nice guy.” Even musicians from across the country had nothing but praises for him.
During the course of his life, the Dil Dil Pakistan singer worked with numerous other artists, such as Salman Ahmed, Ali Azmat, Faakhir amongst many others. Speaking to The Express Tribune, many musicians came forth to share their experiences with JJ and honour the legend that he still is today.
Singer Zoheb Hassan, famous for tracks such as Dheere Dheere and Always on My Mind from the 1980s, lost his sister Nazia Hassan 17 years ago to cancer. Expressing his condolences, Zoheb said, “Junaid was a lovely person. He was a really good guy; he never hurt anybody. He never said anything to anyone; he would mind his own business. People said a lot of things about him – sometimes mean things, but he was still very gracious. He never got involved in any feuds.”
He further explained, “As a musician, he was great. His band, Vital Signs had an era by themselves. Dil Dil Pakistan is like an anthem for the country. People have said how great he was so I don’t think I need to add anything more since it justifies the impact he had on people.”
Winner of the first Battle of the Bands, Aaroh was judged by JJ in the finale. Returning after nine years, vocalist Farooq Ahmed revealed, “Back in the 1990s, we would go to Junaid bhai’s house just to hang out. We had a good thing and he was very much into cricket. During our tours, we were once staying at PC Bhurban. We asked the management to turn the light on in the tennis court so that we could play cricket. We were there till three in the morning and surprised that he was so good at the sport.”
He also recalled that Aaroh once performed a cover of Ajnabi, a song by Vital Signs and JJ loved it. “He personally appreciated our performance. He said that we did a wonderful job and that we had outdone the original. It was very big of him to say that.”
Farooq further added that JJ was a very down-to-earth, simple man. “You could go and talk to him about anything and he’d give you his suggestion as well. He treated me like a younger brother. It was a great experience knowing him.”
Pop singer Faakhir Mehmood shared his experience working with the voice of Woh Kaun Thi. “Vital Signs broke barriers of pop music and were tremendously successful. We looked up to them and they paved the way for us. When I was in Awaz, he helped us record songs and I immediately liked him. During that time, Pakistani music was as its peak, both locally and globally so we had the opportunity to perform with Vital Signs in the US, UK, etc. We travelled a lot together and our friendship grew stronger,” he stated.
“JJ eventually ventured into his solo career and then I helped him produce songs. That made our bond thicker and I refused to charge him. When I was getting married, he had just started his clothing business so he sent me kurtas and gifts for my mehndi.”
The Dil Na Lagay crooner added, “Ultimately in 2002, I started my solo career and was confused with what to do next. JJ told me to learn music from an ustaad as it would help me. He took lessons from the same ustaad as well when he went solo.”
He further disclosed that once he and JJ were solo performers they went on more tours together. “On tours, our rooms used to be side-by-side. We talked about everything – music, religion, etc. At this time, he was very confused because his transition was intensifying,” discussed Faakhir.
“JJ would never backbite or even talk about other people – something that a lot of us naturally do. However, he did not speak ill of anyone, which was a remarkable trait and made him a very likeable person. He never said no to anyone and would help others to the best of his abilities. Junaid was wonderful. He was a people’s person, which is why he garnered so much success in his life,” concluded Faakhir.
Ali Noor of Noori also came forth to pay his respects. He said, “A year has gone by and it’s different seeing him in another light now. He was always very kind and had a very charismatic personality. He was also one of the finest musicians who took pop music to where it is now. He had the persona of a rockstar, if I must say.”
Guitarist Asad Ahmed who performed with JJ during his musical tours adored him. He said, “We always had a good time and I have countless memories with him like being on tour, recording in the studio or attending birthday parties. He was family.”
He said, “While on tour, JJ loved going to the ‘World’ section in Virgin Megastores. He would be amazed at the music that was available. I remember this one time we were driving from Manchester to London and we stopped at a Virgin Megastore near Birmingham. Junaid went to the ‘World’ section and started screaming, ‘Asad come here. See, they have our albums!’ I saw that they had Aietbaar and Vital Signs 2 and JJ was on top of the world.”
“JJ was very friendly. He never let me feel small and everyone who worked with him was set on an equal grounds. He was comfortable in his own skin. Whether he was a popstar or a preacher, for me, he was always the same person. He’s someone who came from nothing and made it big.”
Faisal Rafi, producer of Pepsi Battle of the Bands also had nothing but good words for the Chehra singer. He said, “When he first came to Karachi, we had to go to a friend’s place but we couldn’t find the way. We didn’t even have phones back then so we just drove back home. I still remember him as the Junaid without his beard – singing songs.”
Famous for his songs such as Sajni and Roiyaan, even Farhan Saeed mentioned, “I grew up listening to Vital Signs and Junaid Jamshed. Those songs never get old and I still listen to them. Yeh Shaam and Aietbaar are my all-time favourites.”
The Thori Der singer also expressed his opinion saying, “JJ was a gem of a person. I first met him after he had left music and right before we were about to release Jal’s second album. We thought he’d make us quit music as well but he listened to the entire album and gave us feedback. He was very soft-spoken and honest but he was also always careful about his words.”
With his sad demise in a fatal plane crash on December 7 last year, Junaid left a massive legacy behind. His songs, his work and his generous attitude towards people and life speaks for itself. From Sanwali Saloni to Na Tu Ayegi, JJ’s songs will always be cherished by music enthusiasts in Pakistan. Even after his death, his message of love and benevolence still prevails. In his own words, do pal ka yeh jeevan hai kuch karna hai tau kar guzro (This life is very short, if you want to do something, do it already) – and undoubtedly, Junaid did, and went, as to what one can say, leaps and bounds for his country and people. He shall be missed and will remain immortal in our hearts, and deeply embedded in our souls for decades and more decades to come.
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