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Ace guitarist Amir Zaki dies

June 03, 2017

KARACHI: Renowned guitarist Amir Zaki died of heart failure here on Friday. He was 49.

Zaki was one of the most inspiring musicians of the country. Many believe he was the best of his generation. He emerged on the showbiz scene in the 1980s when the face of popular music was changing in the country. He played as a session musician for many bands (including Vital Signs and later on Fuzon) and music companies, but earned recognition through his masterful solo renditions. His collaboration with artists such as Alamgir, Gumby (drummer) and pop singer Hadiqa Kiani (in a band called Rough Cut) did not garner enough accolades as far as the mainstream music buffs go, but was acknowledged in circles that understand the finer points of the art form.

Although Zaki had acquired a bit of fame when he made a song titled ‘Money’ in a time period when a TV programme called Music Channel Charts was a rage among the younger audience, his solo album Signature had a far better reception. His song ‘Mera Pyar’, which he sang as well, was a hit the moment its video was released in the mid-1990s. Contrary to the kind of music that he liked to play on the guitar, ‘Mera Pyar’ was a soft, romantic track. His gentle vocals pleasantly surprised music lovers of the country.

Zaki’s forte was his guitar playing. If he played bluesy tunes with the kind of soulful feel that they required, his command over jazzy riffs and melodies was no less extraordinary. Apart from that, he was equally well versed in pure classical style. This writer once had the privilege of listening to him playing arpeggios on his guitar.

Zaki’s influences ranged from Jimmy Page, Jimmy Hendrix, Al Di Meola and Joe Satriani. But he was keen on discovering his own sound as a guitar player, and managed to do that convincingly. It is difficult to define his style, and yet not difficult to immediately recognise it.

Zaki, as all artists with a strong individualist streak are, was a restless soul. He was known for his moodiness. His fellow musicians would always be in awe of him, and the combination of his moody behaviour and top-notch musicianship would often keep his colleagues at a distance from him. He had a mind of his own and liked to do things his own way. His untimely death shocked the music fraternity on Friday.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2017