December 7, 2016, saw a deadly crash near Havelian in the foothills of the Himalayas. The PIA aircraft ATR-42 turboprop plane, operating flight PK-661, was carrying 47 passengers and crew members on board. Renowned Naat Khwan and former pop singer Junaid Jamshed along with his wife were amongst those onboard.
The plane took off from Chitral in the late afternoon and crashed about an hour later in the Havelian area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about 125 km north of Islamabad. The plane was completely destroyed in the crash and all passengers onboard passed away.
The former singing sensation of the 90s, Junaid Jamshed was amongst those who were killed in the crash leaving a huge hole in the heart of many Pakistanis, especially those who had grown up listening to his tunes.
Junaid Jamshed along with his band Vital Sings was behind ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’, also popularly known as the second national anthem of the country. His other hits include ‘Tum Mil Gaye’, ‘Sanwali Saloni’, and ‘Woh Kaun Thee’.
Junaid rose to fame two decades ago when he joined Vital Signs, a then-underground band that was awarded a record deal when it was noticed during a live concert. The singer never actually intended to opt for a career in music and tried his hand in the Pakistan Air Force as an F-16 fighter pilot. However, his weak eyesight held him back from his dream, and he only served a short stint in PAF as a civilian contractor. He then enrolled at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore in 1985, graduated as an engineer.
Vital Signs, which had already been formed by Nusrat Hussain and Rohail Hyatt, was complete when Jamshed joined. Subsequently, broadcaster and producer Shoaib Mansoor took lead in helping the band work on their first album.
Dil Dil Pakistan, from the album Vital Signs 1, immediately won Pakistanis’ patriotic hearts when it was released on Independence Day, 1987. It brought the band country-wide recognition.
After having unprecedented success, without any marketing or promotion, Jamshed and Vital Signs went their separate ways in 1998, as the former chose a solo musical career. The band had spearheaded the underappreciated and relatively unknown rock scene to a national level during their peak.
His solo road wasn’t as smooth as he thought it to be; sometime after 2000, he vanished from the public platform, while rumours arose of him facing financial pitfalls.
Finally, mid-last decade, Jamshed declared bankruptcy, abandoned music after learning its position in religion, and announced his decision to become a devout Muslim. Alongside, he launched a clothing line under the name J. in order to maintain an income source.
Mansoor, his long-time friend, expressed his disappointment in an interview when he read about Jamshed seeing music in a negative light and consequently confusing his fans. Nonetheless, some close friends remember him not being able to resist his passion for singing in private meet-ups.
Jamshed, who had two major sides in his life, was remembered admirably for both. In the latter half of his 52-year-long life, he promoted religion and went to talk on various platforms on how to achieve personal and spiritual growth. The website, Muslim 500, labelled him as one of the most powerful Muslims in the world.
He was on a visit to Chitral to advance “the Path of Allah,” his last tweet before his untimely death.
Former aides, celebrities and fans from all over the world paid their tribute to the late singer who changed the course of the music industry in the country.
Salman Ahmed, who released a documentary titled “Ansoo” on the singer last month revealed today that he is planning to produce a unique “Broadway-style show which will pay tribute to three legends, Nazia and Zoheb Hassan, Junoon and Vital Signs. I’ve already been in talks with Zoheb, JJ’s sons, Momina Mustehsan, Asim Azhar, Irtaash and a few others.”
“The show will be a never-before-seen, audio-visual odyssey. “It will showcase the rich musical heritage of Pakistani superstars,” he added.
Ahmed also said that it was one of Junaid’s last wish to see the band reunite and perform together again.
Remembering #JunaidJamshed on his first death anniversary today. He will live forever in the heart of every #Pakistani with #DilDilPakistan. 🎶🇵🇰
May his soul rest in peace. #VitalSigns @JunaidJamshedPK @PTVHomeOfficial pic.twitter.com/SSXyC6db2u
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) December 7, 2017