LAHORE-Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away on August 16, 1997, leaving behind a legacy of evergreen Sufi songs.

The Sufi singer belonged to the Patiala gharana and had an exceptional variety of vocal skills. He was able to perform for several hours at a high intensity level.

Khan was also known as the ‘ Shahanshah-e-Qawwali, ‘ meaning ‘ The King of Kings of Qawwali ‘ due to his devotion and enthusiasm for music.

He was signed by Oriental Star Agencies, Birmingham, England, in the early 1980s.

His first performance was at his father’s funeral in 1964. In a 1996 interview, the singer said he dreamed of his father placing his hand on his throat, awakening his voice.

After his father’s death, Nusrat studied qawwali with his father’s brothers, Salamat Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan. He began performing with them in 1966, and after the death of Mubarak Ali Khan in 1971, he became the leader of the family’s party. Adapting the music to his generation, he slightly sped up the songs.

In 1996, Khan worked on the soundtrack with Vedder for ‘Dead Man Walking’. His music also appeared in the ‘Natural Born Killers’ by Oliver Stone, but he was unhappy that it was used as the backdrop for a prison riot.

Khan went on to release movie scores and albums in Europe, India, Japan, Pakistan, and the US. He engaged in collaborations and experiments with Western artists, becoming a well-known world music artist. He toured extensively, performing in over 40 countries.

The Guinness Book of World Records states that Khan holds the world record for the largest recorded output by a Qawwali artist a total of 125 albums as of 2001.

Apart from being a Grammy nominee, he received UNESCO Music Prize and the ‘Legends’ award at the UK Asian Music Awards in 2005.

He died on 16 August 1997 from a sudden cardiac arrest at Cromwell Hospital, London. His body was repatriated to Faisalabad, and his funeral was a public affair.