Former Junoon guitarist Salman Ahmad recalled his days with Junaid Jamshed and Vital Signs, one of the most popular pop bands to have graced the country’s music scene.
Recalling the early days of Vital Signs, Salman said that he and Junaid went from Lahore to Rawalpindi and then onto Lalazaar to Rohail Hayatt’s house to practice for the new Vital Signs album and compose new songs.
He educed that the next morning, Junaid woke him up early and told him that the city had been attacked. That day, April 10, 1988, marked the day when the arms depot at Ojhri camp went up in flames and shook the twin cities with the force of the explosion which followed.
“At that time there weren’t many channels. It was only PTV, and they said nothing had happened, but we later realised how close we were to death,” Salman said recalling the incident.
“Vital Signs launched at a time when there was a lot of instability and the country was under the rule of a military dictator. And at that time, Dil Dil Pakistan gave people a picture of the country which was in our hearts. Those were difficult days.”
Speaking about his journey with Vital Signs, Salman said that it began in his college days and that he fully contributed to the first album and composed songs during an era when dictatorship ended in the country and democracy was established.
“Democracy was established in the country after Benazir Bhutto took hold of the country, it was also the time when our first album was released.”
“We were invited to her house where we performed and she told us that she wants a new Pakistan where democracy and the youth will be at its forefront. She also told us that she wanted us to represent them,” said Salman.
“There was no corner of Pakistan where we hadn’t performed. Along with that invitations were pouring in from all over the world,” added the former Junoon guitarist.
“We felt as if the entire world was in our hands. But at the same time, we felt that fame, money and power were very artificial things and could lead to a person’s fall if the individual didn’t maintain a balance,” said Salman while recalling the fame the band received after Dil Dil Pakistan became Pakistan’s second anthem.
“When you achieve fame and money quickly, conflict can arise. The same happened with Vital Signs, we started fighting over small things, sometimes on music, other times on who was getting more fame,” added Salman.
As a result, the guitarist quit Vital Signs and went back to practising medicine considering he was a trained doctor. However, he maintained his friendship with Junaid.
“After I left, Vital Signs started splintering and Junaid would say he was unsure if he should continue with music or take part in social work. A huge part of our discussion was on religion and spirituality. And I wasn’t surprised at all, when Junaid, who I considered an Islamic history search engine, started mingling with Tableegi Jamat,” said Salman while shedding light on Junaid’s journey down the religious path.
“I think he had a lot of pressure on him to transition from one image to another – from a clean-cut youth to beard, shalwar kameez, topi donning scholar. The transition was very difficult for him,” concluded Salman.