Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Rock n' Roll Jihad

When I was younger, college age, my friends would refer to me as a rockologist ... basically someone who knew a lot (probably too much) about rock 'n roll. I am in my 40's now and I still maintain some knowledge of current rock and pop music, but I am not like I used to be. I am not a fanatic like I was, but rarely do I find out that one of the best selling rock n' rollers in the world is someone that I never heard of.

Salman Ahmad is a Pakistani rock 'n roller. He grew up in New York City listening to rock music, the same rock that I grew up to. When he was a teen, his parents asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He pointed at a poster of Jimmy Page. His parents were not too happy about this and sent him back to Lahore, Pakistan after he graduated high school to study to become a doctor. He studied medicine and, today, is technically still a doctor. In the time that his family left Pakistan, it had changed drastically. The Taliban had become more popular in his absence and Sharia law was being enforced in much of Pakistani life. He once pulled out his guitar at a talent show at school and played Eddie Van Halen's Eruption. This was his first run in with those that thought music was incompatible with Islam.

He gave up practicing medicine after his band, Vital Signs, first album, Vital Signs I, sold over a million copies in 1989. They are commonly known as Pakistan's first rock band. His current band, Junoon, is having similar success. They often have to appear under different name because their music is banded in Pakistan.

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