Pakistan’s legendary classical singer Mehdi Hassan, who captivated millions of music fans across South Asia, died on Wednesday after a long illness, his family said. He was 84.
Hassan, known as Shahenshah-e-Ghazal, or the king of classical singing among Urdu speakers across the world, died in a private hospital in Karachi.
His son Asif told reporters outside the hospital that his father had been suffering from multiple lung, chest and urinary tract conditions.
Mehdi Hassan was born in 1927 in a village called Luna in Rajasthan‚ undivided India in a family of traditional musicians. He had his musical grooming from his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both traditional Dhrupad singers.
After the independence‚ 20 years old Mehdi Hassan and his family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Cheecha Watni‚ district Sahiwal.
Mehdi Hassan was given an opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1957‚ primarily as a thumri singer‚ which earned him recognition within the musical fraternity. At that time‚ Mehdi Hassan also had a passion for Urdu poetry and began to experiment by singing ghazals on part-time basis.
Mehdi Hassan ruled Pakistani film industry for a long time. 1962 was a lucky year for him when his three songs were a hit. His all time hit Ghazal Gullon mein rang bharay… in film Farangi in 1964 gave him breakthrough as playback singer. His peak period was in the 1970s.
Following a severe illness in the late 80s‚ Mehdi Hassan stepped down from playback singing. Later due to severity of his illness he completely departed from music.
Mehdi Hassan received numerous awards and recognitions. These include the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz ; the Pride of Performance ; and the Hilal-i-Imtiaz . Besides Nigar Film and Graduate Awards from Pakistan‚ he was recipient of the Saigal Award in Jalandhar‚ India‚ in 1979 and the Gorkha Dakshina Bahu Award in Nepal in 1983.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his condolences, calling Hassan “an icon who mesmerised music lovers” in Pakistan and the sub-continent for decades.
Indian singing legend Lata Mangeshkar told a private TV channel that his death was a “big loss”.
Hassan also won awards and accolades in India and Nepal, as well as Pakistan.He was born in India and migrated to Pakistan after partition and independence from British rule in 1947.