Aamir Zaki (born 8 April 1968) is a guitarist-songwriter and composer from Pakistan.
He is known for his uniquely 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 and one Urdu song. His second CD release Rough Cut was an English album, with a Tabla and six string bass Rhythm section, featuring Hadiqa Kiyani on vocals.
Early life and career:
Zaki started playing music at the age of eight on the piano. He started playing the drums at eleven and an alto saxophone at twelve and finally found his permanent instrument (the guitar) as a gift from his father on his thirteenth birthday. He formally taught himself, using method books by Dan Morgan and Fredrik Noad. He started jamming with a drummer soon and formed the band Drug Enforcement. They played their first show at Rangoonwala Hall where they scandalized the audience by doing covers of The Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. After just one year of playing, Zaki played brilliantly, and that was when the audience got their first taste of his unique talent. Zaki taught himself Western Classical Guitar from a book, and debuted on national television at the age of 17.
Zaki's grandfather used to play an Ik Tara (an ethnic one string instrument), and left home for a life of solitude forever. Aamir's father was a music connoisseur, and it was his music collection that laid the foundation of Aamir Zaki's music.
On Tour with Alamgir:
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 Rhodes.
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 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 and the frustrated band disbanded. Zaki continued with his songwriting and started playing session guitar.
Zaki got married at the age of twenty two and divorced at twenty four. Disappointed and sad, he took a flight to the United States as a vacation and bought the two guitars he latter used on Signature. He put his own money into releasing this high-risk venture. The first CD batch was made in England and Sonic released it locally. 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 a time 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 plays the bass like the guitar and the sounds he elicits from it are unlike anything you've heard before. No wonder a man in the audience shouted "spank the bass" repeatedly. He has the capacity to make any instrument emote and his phrases.