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Junoon (Urdu: جنون, literal English translation: "obsession/passion") was a sufi rock band from Lahoremarker, Pakistanmarker, formed in 1990 by songwriter/guitarist Salman Ahmad, vocalist Ali Azmat, who were soon joined by keyboardist Nusrat Hussain. Junoon was Pakistan's most successful band and were regarded as the pioneers of sufi rock music (influenced by Sufism - a mystic, devotional tradition within Islam). Q magazine calls them "One of the biggest bands in the world".

They sing mostly in the language of Urdu, in a style blending Western hard rock with Sindhi and Punjabi folk and Qawwali. Junoon, in effect, had to create an audience for rock music in Pakistanmarker. "The band's appeal reaches beyond the Westernised elite", says Newsweek.

The New York Times called Junoon as "the U2 of Pakistanmarker". In a preview to Junoon's performance at the House of Blues in Los Angelesmarker, the L.A. Times says Junoon's "ability to captivate audiences" is "inspiring Beatles-like reactions".


Early years (1990-1996)

The name Junoon came to lead guitarist Salman Ahmad in a dream where one of his teachers shook him and said "Tumhey mousiqui ka Junoon hai!" (You have an obsession for music!). He formed Junoon soon after with two friends, Ali Azmat and Brian O Connell., Junoon – Biography Retrieved on May 18, 2009 Salman Ahmad – Interview Retrieved on June 05, 2009

Heavily influenced by rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Junoon aimed to combine loud guitar riffs with the tranquility of sufi poetry by the likes of Maulana Rumi, Allama Iqbal and Bulleh Shah. The band were one of the first bands in Pakistan to insist on playing live music where most music was sampled and programmed synthpop.

The band's first album, self titled released in 1990 "Junoon" barely made a dent in the Pakistani music industry, their second album "Talaash" began creating a cult following for Junoon.

Junoon was no overnight success. The band struggled financially for the first few years. Group members remember months of eating 'daal' and rice, the modest Pakistani's staple. Their politically influenced songs were often subject to censorship, which led to the eventual ban from all state run television and radio during the rule of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

It was only after their 1996 release of their third album "Inquilaab" (Revolution), that Junoon developed a nationwide fan following, blending rock guitars and bluesy vocals with eastern elements like the use of tablas (traditional south Asian hand drums), raga-inspired melodies, traditional Pakistani folk music, and Eastern inspired poetry. In the spring of 1996, Junoon scored its first big hit with the song "Jazba-e-Junoon", single from their album "Inquilaab".

Mainstream success (1997-2004)

In 1997, Junoon recorded their fifth album, Azadi. Azadi, meaning freedom, was released by EMI/Virgin Records, and became Junoon's debut album in Indiamarker. "Sayonee", the first single off Azadi, became an instant hit in South Asia and the Middle East, shooting to the top of all the Asian charts, and staying at #1 on both Channel V and MTV Asia for over 2 months. Azadi hit platinum sales status in a record of 4 weeks. Zee TV invited Junoon to perform at the star-studded Zee Cine Awards in Mumbaimarker in March 1998, where the group received accolades from the creme de la creme of India's entertainment industry.

In 1998, Junoon won the "Best International Group" title at the Channel V Music Awards, where they performed along with world-wide icons Sting, The Prodigy and Def Leppard. Azadi was nominated for Best International Album, having achieved the prestigious honour of being the highest selling album in Pakistanmarker and Bangladeshmarker 1998 and 1999. Junoon headlined the BBC Mega Mela in 1998, which was the largest Asian festival outside of the South Asia.

Junoon released their sixth studio album "Parvaaz", which was based mostly on the poetry of Bulleh Shah. "Parvaaz" was recorded and mixed at Abbey Road Studiosmarker in Londonmarker and was hailed by critics as Junoon's finest work to date and was released by EMI and Lips Records. Singles like "Bulleya", "Sajna", "Ghoom" and "Mitti" were a success and did well at the music charts. UNESCOmarker presented Junoon with an award for their achievements towards Peace in South Asia. Junoon was invited to perform at UNESCO's "Music for Peace" concert held in Parismarker, along with Yesudas , Lionel Richie, Montserrat Caballe, Zubin Mehta and many other great artists from around the world. In London, BBC presented Junoon an award for their contribution towards Asian Culture. Junoon closed 1999 with a tour of Bangladeshmarker, where 45,000 ecstatic fans attended the concert in Dhaka's Army Stadium.

In 2000, Junoon released a compilation of their albums and videos, Junoon Millenium 1990-2000. The compilation album consisted of singles like "Azadi", "Muk gaye Nay" and "Allah Hu (live version)". The album was released by Lips Records. Later on the same year Junoon performed in Japanmarker and as well as at the Roskilde Festivalmarker outside Copenhagenmarker, Denmarkmarker, which is the premier summer European Rock Festival, along with Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, The Cure, Queensrÿche and many others. Junoon performed the largest ever concert in Dubaimarker, UAEmarker, with Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam, with nearly 20,000 in attendance.

In 2001, Junoon released their latest album, Andaz (titled "Ishq" in Pakistan), which topped the charts in Pakistan as well as in the Gulf and South Asia, with its first single entitled "Zamane ke Andaz (Saqi-Nama)" which made it to #1 in the Gulf, and to #5 on the Asian charts.
Junoon performing at a concert.
Junoon sold out Wembley Arenamarker in London in April, and performed at "United for Gujarat", the first South Asian rock concert in New Delhi, with bands from India and Bangladesh, singing together to raise funds for the Gujrat Earthquake. In June, Salman Ahmad was appointed 'Goodwill Ambassador' of Pakistan by United Nations, attending the UN General Assembly in New York. In September, Junoon performed in Norway with Morten Harket of a-ha, and went on to perform in China. Following the 9/11 attacks, Junoon helped to organise a concert at the General Assembly on UN Day with Junoon and an Indian group performing at the Assembly Hall, a first of its kind. They also released their what they called their first English-language single, "No More", an anti-violence song which deals directly with the events of that day. However, before "No More" they had released English songs on their first two albums, including "Our Land", "Lady Magic", "Downtown Princes", "Game Of Chance". The song "No More" is the first English song for which Junoon made a video. CNN aired a 30 minute interview of Junoon on the program Talk Asian. They rave reviews in The New York Times, Billboard Magazine, The New York Post, Newsweek, and others. In December, the President of Pakistan at that time, General Pervez Musharraf invited Junoon to perform at the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on Jinnah's birthday.

In 2002, Junoon released their eighth album, "Daur-e-Junoon" and in 2003, they released their ninth "Dewaar". "Garaj Baras" single from their album, "Dewaar", was selected as part of a Bollywood movie soundtrack in 2003 for the film Paap directed by Pooja Bhatt. The song topped the charts again in the country in 2004 and their controversial single "Pappu Yaar" shot to the #1 spot in Pakistan.

Breakup (2005-present)

In 2005 Ali Azmat, the lead vocalist, left the band to start his solo career. His first solo album "Social Circus" was released in 2005. Salman Ahmad also released his solo album. In 2005, Brian O'Connell returned to his native New Yorkmarker. Pakistani musician Mekaal Hasan and the band's producer John Alec have been playing bass guitar for live shows in his place. A reunion concert took place in Dubaimarker, UAEmarker in March 2006.

In September 2007, Junoon released three albums, Parvaaz, Infiniti, and Azadi with Magnatune. On December 11, 2007, Junoon performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concertmarker in Oslomarker, Norwaymarker together with a variety of artists, which was broadcast live to over 100 countries. In 2008, the Pakistani rock band Junoon, performed in Srinagarmarker for the first time and turned thousands of music lovers hysterical. On September 12, 2009, Junoon performed at "The Concert for Pakistan" held in UN General Assembly Hall with many other musicians from around the world which included, Outlandish, Sting and many other artists.

Music style

Heavily influenced by rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Junoon aimed to combine loud guitar riffs with the tranquility of sufi poetry by the likes of Maulana Rumi, Allama Iqbal and Bulleh Shah. The band were one of the first bands in Pakistanmarker to insist on playing live music where most music was sampled and programmed synthpop.

Junoon's music is based upon issues in the world. Their music has been one major force which has truly kept the national spirits high amidst the prevailing social woes which have surely worsened in the last three decades. Such music included songs like "Jazba-e-Junoon", "Sayonee", "Talaash", "Main Kaun Hun" and many more. Junoon's music is compared with the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Lata Mangeshkar. Junoon's music has captivated the Pakistani youth for well over ten years and they were the only saving grace to Pakistani music on the international scene after the departure of Pakistani pop-music heavyweights, Nazia and Zoheb and Vital Signs.

One of the legendary tours that Junoon had undertaken was their tour to Denmark and Europe in 2000-2001. This tour played a pivotal role in increasing Junoon's international popularity and standing and in spreading awareness about Pakistani music.


Studio albums

Live albums

Compilation albums

Television plays


Band members

Final lineup


See also


  1. Unesco award for musician K.J. Yesudas
  2. New York Times, 17-07-2003, Review; A Rock Star's Struggle Where Militant Islam Rules Retrieved on May 18, 2009
  3. Newsweeks, 17-07-2003, Band Fights Extremism Retrieved on May 18, 2009
  4. Jang News, 26-06-2003, Dewaar Review Retrieved on May 18, 2009
  5., 17-03-2003, Junoon splitting Retrieved on May 18, 2009
  6. Rolling Stone, Guitars for Guns Retrieved on July 29, 2009.
  7. Concert for Pakistan: Another Crazy Night for Junoon Retrieved on November 3, 2009
  8. New York Times, 28-11-1997, Pop and Jazz Guide Retrieved on May 18, 2009

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