Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan was a Pakistani vocalist, who had expertise in singing the Khayal genre of classical music. The singer belonged to the Patiala Gharana. He was the younger brother of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and used to sing with him. The duo of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Bade Fateh Ali khan were at the peak of their career in the 1950s and 1960s and had achieved tremendous popularity. In 1969, Fateh Ali, along with his brother Amanat Ali Khan, received the highest national literary award in Pakistan, i.e., the Pride of Performance Award, from the President of Pakistan.
Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan was born in 1935 (age 82; at the time of death) in Sham Chaurasi, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, British India (now in Punjab, India). At the age of 12 years, he migrated to Pakistan with his family, after the partition of 1947. He learned music under the tutelage of his father, Ustad Akhtar Hussain Khan, who was also a renowned vocalist under the patronage of Maharaja of Patiala. He followed the legacy of Patiala Gharana, singing classical Hindustani music. He started performing in the court of Maharaja of Patiala along with his brother Ustad Amanat Ali Khan at the age of 9.
Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan belonged to a Punjabi-Muslim family. He was the 6th generation of the Patiala Gharana.
Parents & Siblings
Ustad Akhtar Hussain Khan, the father of Bade Fateh Ali Khan, was an accomplished vocalist during the patronage of the Maharaja of Patiala.
His brothers Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Hamid Ali Khan gained immense fame in the same field.
Wife & Children
Bade Fateh Ali Khan has four children, two sons, Sultan Fateh Ali khan and Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, who have kept the legacy of the Patiala Gharana tradition of music alive, and two daughters.
His great-grandfather, Mian Kallu Khan, founded the Patiala Gharana in the 19th century. Mian Kallu Khan learned classical music under the tutelage of Mir Qutub Bakhsh Tanrus Khan, who was a musician in the court of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. Later, his grandfather, Jarnail Ali Baksh Khan, adopted the same profession and started singing in the court of Maharaja of Patiala along with ‘Colonel’ Fateh Ali Khan.
Following the legacy of Patiala Gharana, Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan started singing the classical Hindustani vocal at the very young age of 9. He got inspired and learned music from his elders. He was trained by his father, Akhtar Hussain Khan, along with his elder brother Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. He was in his teens when he started singing in the court of Maharaja of Patiala Yadavinder Singh with his elder brother. The duo of Amanat Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan enjoyed massive popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the peak time of their success. The duo made their first public appearance in 1945 at a concert sponsored by an influential music aesthete, Pandit Jeevanlal Matoo. In 1949, they performed at the All Bengal Music Conference in Kolkata, which made them very popular and successful. Thereafter, the duo toured South Asia extensively, becoming the representatives of Patiala Gharana.
Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan had expertise in the classical and semi-classical music genres like Khayal, Thumri, Ghazal, and Dadra. He was also trained in the medieval genre Dhrupad. He had proficiency in ragas, whereas his brother Amanat Ali had a good command over sur. The duo had divided their singing specification in such a way that Amanat Ali Khan used to sing in the upper notes, and Fateh Ali Khan in lower notes, which is according to their specialisation. The thumri ‘Kab aao gey,’ sung by the duo, is considered an all-time classic. In 1992, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan collaborated with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and released a CD titled ‘Ragas and Sagas,’ which the listeners appreciated.
Some of the most notable albums by Fateh Ali Khan are “Gharanon Ki Gaiki Vol-18” (1978), “Raag Ke Ustad, Vol. 2″ (1998), “Raag Ke Ustad, Vol. 3” (1998), “Bandish – Classical Compositions Re-Interpreted (feat. The Orchestra of the Great Musicians of Lahore)” (2013), and “Raag Se Ghazal Tak” (1978).
Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan taught students from all over the world. A popular vocalist of Afghanistan, Ahmad Wali, has been his disciple. Wali was so talented that Ustad renamed him after his own name, Ahmad Wali Fateh Ali Khan. Deeyah was one of his favourite students, who later became an Emmy award-winning filmmaker. She is from Norway and is half Afghani and half Pakistani. Moreover, a famous Nohakhawan, Haider Rizvi Alhussaini, was also his student.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan was honoured with the Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan along with his elder brother Ustad Amanat Ali Khan in 1969.
- He was also a recipient of the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz Award, a state-organised honour of Pakistan. It is the 4th grade in the order of the Imtiaz Award.
On 4th January 2017, Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan died in Islamabad, at the age of 82 years. He had been suffering from lung disease since 2016 and was admitted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for 10 days. He was buried in the Mominpura Graveyard in Lahore, Pakistan. After his death, the Arts Council of Pakistan organised a tribute event in honour and remembrance of the iconic singer on 2 March 2017.
- Poet: Allama Iqbal, Muneer Niazi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmad Faraz
- Ragas: Kamod, Megh, Malkauns, Jaunpuri, and Adana.
- Bade Fateh Ali Khan was named after ‘Colonel’ Fateh Ali Khan, who was the partner and friend of his grandfather, Ustad Ali Baksh Jarnail Khan.
- After the sudden demise of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Fateh Ali Khan was so broken that he was overtaken by depression and stopped singing. He resumed singing after 2 years and joined Hamid Ali Khan and Asad Amanat Ali Khan.
- He had great respect and love for his elder brother and singing partner Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. In an interview, when he was asked about the happiest moments in his life, he replied with teary eyes,
when I used to sing with my brother Amanat Ali Khan!”
- After the death of Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan, he was buried in the same graveyard where his elder brother Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and his nephew Asad Amanat Ali Khan were buried.
- The ancestral home of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan has been turned into a music school.
- Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan was deeply inspired by the singing style of Ustad Ashiq Khan, who was the son of ‘Colonel’ Fateh Ali Khan, the friend and singing partner of his grandfather Jarnail Ali Baksh Khan. He used to address Ustad Ashiq Khan as “Taya.”
- Ram Saakh, the signature raga of the Patiala Gharana, was the favourite of the duo of Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali Khan.
- In an interview, Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan told that in 2001, his private performance was arranged by the French diplomats in Kabul for King Zahir Shah. At that time, Kabul was liberated from the Taliban, but the war still continued. On hearing loud thuds, Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan became anxious and told the king about his uneasiness to which the King replied,
Aap Darbari gaiay, bomb to girtay rehtay hein” (You start singing Raga Darbari, bombs do go off around here).
- He was called the contemporary ‘Taan Kapta” (the dean of tanas) by an eminent music expert, Daud Rahbar.
- In their debut performance at the Calcutta music conference, the duo of Amanat Ali-Fateh Ali performed the raga Puriya Dhanasri, and the asthai was “Sultan e Alam Nizamuddin Auliya.”