Pakistani Immigrant Goes to a Led Zeppelin Concert, Gets Inspired to Become a Musician & Then Sells 30 Million Albums

Salman Ahmad, the gui­tarist who found­ed the acclaimed Sufi rock band Junoon, has sold over 30 mil­lion albums world­wide, per­formed at the Nobel Peace Prize cer­e­mo­ny, and con­tin­ued mak­ing music despite threats from The Tal­iban. He also teach­es cours­es on Mus­lim music and poet­ry at Queens Col­lege of the City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York.

Above, in a video pro­duced by The Moth, the bound­ary-break­ing musi­cian recounts his inspi­ra­tional life sto­ry. Born in Lahore, Pak­istan, he moved to New York at the age of 11. Being the “only over­weight, brown, Mus­lim kid” in school, he lived in rel­a­tive isolation–that is until Dan Spitz (lat­er the gui­tarist of Anthrax) urged him “to get cool.” Cool came in the form of a tick­et to a Led Zep­pelin con­cert at Madi­son Square Gar­den, which kicked off, odd­ly enough, with “Kash­mir.”

I’ll let Ahmad tell the rest of his sto­ry. It’s also a sto­ry about how Amer­i­ca does good (for the world and itself) when it remains open in heart, mind, and law.

To get bet­ter acquaint­ed with Ahmad’s jour­ney, read his recent book, Rock & Roll Jihad: A Mus­lim Rock Star’s Rev­o­lu­tion.

To keep Amer­i­ca open, make a dona­tion to the ACLU.

Relat­ed Con­tent

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play a Delight­ful Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

81-Year-Old Man Walks into a Gui­tar Shop & Starts Play­ing a Sub­lime Solo: Ignore the Tal­ents of the Elder­ly at Your Own Per­il

Pak­istani Orches­tra Plays Enchant­i­ng Ren­di­tion of The Bea­t­les’ “Eleanor Rig­by”

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.