Today is the ninth death anniversary of the legendary singer and freedom fighter Azam Khan, who shaped the country’s music scene by introducing a new genre and inspired countless fan followers who fondly called him ‘guru’ to follow in his footsteps.
This correspondent spoke to his long time friend and peer Ferdous Wahid, lead vocalist and bass guitarist of Miles Shafin Ahmed and singer Partha Barua who shared their thoughts on Azam Khan and recalled his contribution.
Ferdous Wahid said, ‘Firoz Shai introduced me to Azam Khan in 1972 before Uchcharan was founded. I had just returned from the United Kingdom. Both Azam Khan and I decided to try something new together. I told Azam Khan that we needed to talk to the musicians at Hotel Intercontinental about doing gigs. We rented a recording studio named Dhaka Record Company and recorded four songs there. Dhaka Record Company liked our songs and proposed to publish a gramophone record. After the record was published, it received immense response from the youths. They sold a total of 7,000 copies of the album within a week of its release. His song “Ore Saleka Ore Maleka” became an immense hit.’
‘I had spent a good deal of time with him. No one can deny his contribution to the country’s rock music scene. Azam Khan introduced and promoted a new genre of music in Bangladesh. Besides, he was a freedom fighter, a simple-minded and kind person. He phoned me before travelling to Singapore for his treatment and told me to keep doing music,’ added Ferdous Wahid.
Shafin Ahmed said, ‘Azam Khan was the Bangla rock music pioneer. When Azam Khan started performing in the mid ‘70s along with his band Uchcharan, I was studying at school. I used to go to his concerts along with my friends which were held at different indoor venues in the capital. I found myself drawn to the band’s songs because its members had sound knowledge of western rock music. In their hit Bangla songs, including “Ore Saleka Ore Maleka”, “Ashi Ashi Bole Tumi”, “Rail Line-er Oi Bostite” and others, they beautifully incorporated western rock music.’
‘Azam Bhai loved me a lot. He was very kind, cheerful and health conscious person who loved to play cricket with children. I was greatly inspired by him. His contribution in popularising Bangla rock songs among Bangladeshi musicians cannot be forgotten. We are all grateful to him. He encouraged many bands like Miles, Souls, Feedback and others during late ‘70s and early ‘80s,’ added Shafin Ahmed.
Partha Barua said, ‘I had the chance of working with him in an album named “Kichu Chawa”. He shaped our music scene. Without his contributions, Bangla rock music would have needed much more time to reach where it stands now. Maximum songs of Azam Khan were guitar based. He did ground-breaking works and for which he was fondly called “guru” by all.’
‘When he was in his prime, there was none who could match his level. It is unfortunate that our musicians don’t get the recognition they deserve during their lifetime. He occupies a special place in the history of Bangla rock music,’ added Partha.
Mahbubul Haque Khan, popularly known as Azam Khan, was born on February 28, 1950 in Dhaka.
He was the member of ‘Kranti Group of Singers’ in 1960s. He joined the liberation war under sector-2 and took part in various guerrilla operations in Dhaka.
After the war, he along with his friends formed a pop music band called Uchcharan. Azam Khan was the vocalist of the band. He set off a unique style incorporating western music with the local music trend.
His songs spoke of the daily struggles of common people, their sorrows and happiness and their dreams.
He released 17 albums and 25 duet and mixed albums. Besides, he rendered playbacks for many films and also acted in ‘Hiramon’ (1986) and ‘Godfather’ (2003).
Azam Khan received the Best Pop Singer Award (1993), Television Audience Award (2002) and others. He died on June 5, 2011 at the Combined Military Hospital (Dhaka) at the age of 61. He was suffering from lung cancer.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Music