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. (All photos/mid-day archives)
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, Rafi 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.
Mohammed Rafi left behind a treasure trove of immortal songs -- solos as well as duets with popular singers of his era. He sang qawwalis, ghazals, disco and pop in Hindi and various other Indian languages.
Mohammed Rafi is been truly missed!
On the death anniversary of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi, here's a look at some of his vintage photos and interesting facts about his life and career!
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe