8 April 1968
2 June 2017 (aged 49)
Aamir Zaki (Urdu: عامر زکی) (April 8, 1968 - June 2, 2017) was a guitarist-songwriter and composer from Pakistan.
He was known for his melodic phrasing, feel, and tone. His debut album Signature was released in 1995, and Zaki was awarded a gold disc by Soundcraft UK for it. Signature was primarily an instrumental album with two English language and one Urdu song. His second CD release, Rough Cut, was an English language album, with a tabla and six string bass rhythm section, featuring Hadiqa Kiyani on vocals.
The first mainstream musician to recognise Zaki as a teenage prodigy was Alamgir, who got in touch with him to tour India, Dubai, England and the U.S.A. After touring Zaki played on two of Alamgir's albums. "Keh De Na" and "Albela Rahi" were two hit singles with young Zaki's guitar sound and image, he played a self built Flying V guitar, inspired by his love for Randy Rhoads.
Post-Alamgir, Aamir Zaki formed three rock groups. "The Barbarians", "Axe Attack" and "Scratch". Axe Attack was the only band that made an original album called The Bomb, whose title track was about the Bohri Bazaar bomb blast. It was the first English language album recorded in Pakistan and perhaps for that reason, all music companies refused to release it. However, some years later, the rhythm guitarist, Nadeem Ishtiaq took it to Australia where the songs made it to the radio and were well received. Back in Pakistan, the album lay forgotten. Zaki continued with his songwriting and started playing session guitar.
Signature was an independent release, and he put his own money into releasing this high-risk venture. The first CD batch was made in England, and Sonic released Signature in Pakistan. The album was an immediate success, and for the first time in the region, guitar instrumentals made it to the households through FM radio.
The next year Zaki toured extensively with Vital Signs and Awaz.
Zaki had a cult following by this time. He played his original English and Urdu songs live, much before they appeared on the screen. He played at the Karajazz Festival and many times at Cafe Blue (Karachi, Pakistan) that marvellous haunt for live music lovers, that witnessed the powerful synergy between Zaki, Gumby, and Khalid Khan, regularly. It was here that his listeners turned up week after week to hear him play. His bass playing shone on these occasions. Zaki played the bass like the guitar and the sounds he elicited from it are unlike anything heard before. During a show a man in the audience shouted "spank the bass" repeatedly. He had the capacity to make any instrument emote his phrases.
Aamir Zaki passed away on June 2, 2017 due to heart failure after a prolonged illness. He was 49.
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