Junaid Jamshed (September 3, 1964 – December 7, 2016) was a Pakistani recording artist, television personality, fashion designer, occasional actor, and singer-songwriter. After graduating with a degree in engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology (Lahore), Jamshed briefly worked as a civilian contractor and engineer for the Pakistan Air Force before focusing on a musical career. He soon began performing on various local university campuses before being noticed by pop singer Rohail Hyatt in 1983. With the help of Hyatt and Nusrat Hussain, Jamshed was inducted into the singing group Vital Signs and signed a record deal with record executive and producer Shoaib Mansoor to his PTV Music Studio. Jamshed first gained nationwide prominence and international recognition as group ‘Vital Signs’ vocalist in 1987 with the album, Vital Signs 1. The album topped the Music Channel Charts around the country. It included the number one single Dil Dil Pakistan, and Tum Mil Gaye. The commercial success of Vital Signs’ first album helped develop Pakistan’s rock music industry.
In 1994, he released his debut solo album, Junaid of Vital Signs, which also quickly became a national hit, followed by Us Rah Par in 1999 and Dil Ki Baat in 2002. In 2004, Jamshed left both his engineering and music careers and, since then, has focused on his religious activities for Islam and reciting nasheeds on TV and releasing them on CD’s. His debut religious album, Jalwa-e-Janan was released in 2005 and was followed by Mehboob-e-Yazdaan in 2006, Badr-ud-Duja in 2008, and Badee-uz-Zaman in 2009. Jamshed also owns a clothing boutique with the name “J.” (read as “Jay Dot”), which has several outlets throughout Pakistan. In November 2014, Jamshed was accused of blasphemy and in December 2014, in a video message, he apologized for offending people and making mistakes. Sindh Police initiated an investigation into the matter. In December 2016, he died after PIA Flight 661 crashed.
Early life and education
Junaid Jamshed’s father Jamshed Akbar was a Colonel in the Pakistan Air Force while his mother is a Mughalani and father is a Muhajir from Karachi. Junaid recites most of his Naat in Urdu. After graduating from a local boarding high school in Lahore, Jamshed joined the Pakistan Air Force, initially wanting to become a F-16 fighter pilot. His weak eyesight prevented this. He then entered the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore, where he took mathematics and physics before declaring his major in mechanical engineering. In 1990, Jamshed gained a Bachelor of Science degree, graduating in mechanical engineering. With his father’s influence, he was employed by the PAF as a civilian contractor and moved on to a short-lived career in aeronautical engineering in the PAF’s science command.
In 1983, Jamshed started performing rock music at Peshawar University and Islamabad University campuses while still a student at UET in Lahore. During this time, Rohail Hyatt was in town searching for a singer for the newly formed band, ‘Vital Signs’. Bassist Shahzad Hasan and keyboardist Rohail Hyatt arrived at the campus of Peshawar University to meet Jamshed but were unable to do so because of severe winter weather in Peshawar. That night, Jamshed sang “Careless Whisper”, a 1984 single by George Michael, on the university campus. They would not meet with Jamshed for a further four years. In 1987, Jamshed joined his engineering university’s rock band, Nuts and Bolts as a lead vocalist and performed at Flashman’s Hotel in Rawalpindi. The band’s guitarist, Nusrat Hussain, and Rohail Hyatt were also there in search of new talent at the hotel. When Jamshed came to perform on stage, Nusrat tipped Hyatt saying, “that kid’s coming back; the guy you liked” and “perhaps we should go and see him.” Hussain urged Hyatt to see him and after Jamshed’s performance, they did and Jamshed joined their band.
Drift from music
As early as 1999, the media began speculating about Jamshed’s drift from music soon after the Vital Signs faded away. The speculations soon died after Jamshed released his solo albums and continued world tours. After 2001, Jamshed disappeared from the public eye and avoided media attention. His last two albums did not do well in the market and failed to get any positive response from the country’s music critics. His former band mates, Shahi and Hyatt, saw him struggling to negotiate the transition from one world to another. He became distant from Hyatt, who continued to work on producing music. He also struggled financially after leaving the Vital Signs band, and it was Shoaib Mansoor who came to help him financially after giving him the role in Gulls & Guys television show.
After the 9/11 attacks in the United States, Hyatt and Jamshed’s tours in the West struggled with a lot of questions from Westerners about the country’s culture, terrorism, and music. Upon returning, Jamshed filed for bankruptcy in court and made an attempt to resume his career in engineering after applying at various companies. Theories regarding Jamshed began to arise in media, therefore media outlets hired some paparazzi to follow Jamshed. It was frequently reported that Jamshed had distanced himself from music and had been praying five times a day regularly at the nearby mosque. Finally, Jamshed who had been out of practice from his engineering career for 20 years, announced that he would open a fashion-designing company with a close friend of his. In 2004, Jamshed officially renounced music after announcing that he had devoted his life to Islam. Jamshed then left engineering and, to supplement his income, he opened the clothing store “J.”, selling Khaadis (a form of Kurta-Shalwar).
In 2007, in an interview in Chowk Magazine, Mansoor admitted that he was badly affected when Jamshed turned away from music: One morning I was going through a newspaper when I saw my friend Junaid Jamshed’s interview in it. After looking at his new attire in the photograph, published with the article, I could not stop myself from reading it. The more I read the sadder I felt. He had announced that he was quitting music after being convinced that it was ‘Haram’. It really shook me badly. I have never believed that God could hate the two most beautiful things he has given to mankind—music and painting. I felt that a confused man like Junaid had no right to confuse thousands of his youthful followers. I had given him sixteen years of my life as a true friend and had played my role in his professional life to the best of my abilities. How could he throw away our sixteen years just like that without even consulting me? I feel that it was my duty to rectify the damage he has done to the already suffering society under the influence of fundamentalists.
— Shoaib Mansoor, 2007, source
Mansoor directed and also wrote the script of the successful film Khuda Kay Liye released in 2007. Mansoor said that the film was inspired by Jamshed’s life, and offered him a lead role in place of Shaan Shahid. When offered the role, Jamshed maintained that he will “shave his beard” for the film and the role for Jamshed was written by Mansoor. Jamshed later refused to be a part of the film and Mansoor maintained that: “Responses like this one convinced people that Jamshed was not certain about his future, and that the Islamist experience was just a phase.”
Nonetheless, Jamshed does sing in some circles, privately, that is. Guitarist, Bilal Maqsood of Strings, held an annual open-mic jam session at his home. At Maqsood’s party, one attendee remembered that: “But once he (Junaid) started singing, he just couldn’t stop. He was having so much fun singing, he was on a roll.” Maqsood maintained that later in the night, he dropped his wife Ayesha home and then came back to sing some more. Jamshed was one of the last people to leave that evening.
In 1986, Jamshed earned a lot of publicity with the Vital Signs’ hit rock song, Do Pal Ka. The Vital Signs band became popular with Pakistan’s media after the success of the patriotic Dil Dil Pakistan. He has been listed by The Muslim 500 as one of the “World’s Most Influential Muslims” for his active involvement in charity work, especially with the NGO Muslim Charity since 2003. It stated that “(the) Muslim Charity has achieved a great deal under his leadership and expanded its operations to 16 countries.”
Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (2007) (Medal of Excellence) by the President of Pakistan
With Vital Signs
1989: Vital Signs 1
1991: Vital Signs 2
1995: Hum Tum
Solo Pop albums
1994 – Junaid of Vital Signs (تمہارا اور میرا نام), renamed Tumhara Aur Mera Naam
1999 – Us Rah Par (اس راہ پر)
2000 – The Best of Junaid Jamshed
2001 – Dil Ki Baat (دل کی بات)
2005 – Jalwa-e-Janan (جلوہ جاناں) (The Sight of the Beloved)
2006 – Mehboob-e-Yazdan (The Beloved of God)
2007 – Badr-ud-Duja (The Night’s Full Moon)
2008 – Yad-e-Haram
2009 – Rehmat Ul Lil Aalamin
2009 – Badi uz Zaman (the wonder of the age)
2010 – Hadi Ul Anaam (The Guide to the World)
2011 – Rabi-Zidn-e-Ilma (O’Lord! please increase my knowledge!)
2013 – Noor-Ul-Huda