Born in Kotla Sultan Singh, a village in Punjab, in December 1924, Rafi's nickname was Pheeko
It is said that Rafi began singing by imitating the chants of a fakir in his village
Apart from Hindi, Rafi also sang in other Indian languages like Assamese, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati and Telugu among other languages. Rafi saab was so versatile that he even recorded a few songs in English, Persian, Spanish and Dutch
Rafi learnt classical music from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan among others. In pic: With legendary boxer Muhammad Ali
He gave his first public performance at the age of 13, when he sang in Lahore . In 1941, Rafi made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer in the duet 'Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee' with Zeenat Begum in the Punjabi film 'Gul Baloch'. In pic: With OP Nayyar.
In the same year, he was invited by All India Radio Lahore station to sing for them
Rafi's first song with Naushad was 'Hindustan Ke Hum Hain' from the film 'Pehle Aap' (1944). In pic: With Mangesh Desai (seated)
In 1945, Rafi even appeared on the screen for the song 'Tera Jalwa Jis Ne Dekha' in the film 'Laila Majnu'. In pic: With former President Dr. Zakir Hussain
In 1948, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the team of Husanlal Bhagatram-Rajendra Krishan-Rafi had overnight created the song 'Suno Suno Ae Duniyawalon, Bapuji Ki Amar Kahani'. In pic: With Geeta Dutt. Their most famous song together was 'Idhar tum haseen ho, udhar main jawan' from the film 'Mr & Mrs 55'
During the recording of the song 'Tasveer Teri Dil Mein' ('Maya' -- 1961), Lata argued with Rafi over a certain passage of the song. The bitterness boiled over and Lata refused to sing with Rafi. Music director Jaikishan managed a reconciliation between the two
Rafi sang close to 200 songs for OP Nayyar. The evergreen number 'Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan' was a result of their collaboration. In with: With Nayyar at work
Kishore Kumar once stated that Rafi saab sings a song in hundreds of ways and he can sing in only two or three ways
Overall, he sang over 4,516 songs in Hindi films alone
Rafi passed away on July 31, 1980 following a heart attack. His last song was 'Shaam phir kyun udaas hai dost' ('Aas Paas' -- 1981), which he recorded with Laxmikant-Pyarelal a few hours before his death