The soulful voice behind many a popular ghazal was stilled forever with the death of Jagjit Singh here Monday following brain haemorrhage. He was 70. Some of his songs like "Hontho se chhoo lo tum", "Jhuki jhuki si nazar" and "Tumko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya", continue to remain all-time favourites.
His death left not just his friends, family and colleagues teary-eyed, but also a huge void in the music industry, which was enriched with his soul-stirring and lilting melodies.
Singh was admitted to the Lilavati Hospital here Sep 23 following a brain haemorrhage. A surgery was conducted on him the same day, following which he showed slight improvement.
However, he breathed his last Monday morning. He is survived by wife Chitra Singh, who was by his side when he breathed his last.
The film industry remembered the singer and many paid condolences through Twitter.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan posted on the microblogging site: "The sonorous silk voice of Jagjit Singh silent now!! A great loss to the world of music and Ghazal ...Prayers and condolences."
Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman tweeted: "Rest in Peace Jagjitji...No one can replace your voice and the perfection you had towards your art."
Singh will be cremated at Chandanwadi Crematorium at 4.30 p.m. in south Mumbai Tuesday. The cremation is expected to draw several celebrities. His relatives from Rajasthan have already arrived.
Born to a Sikh couple in Rajasthan Feb 8, 1941, Singh went on to pursue a post-graduate degree in history from the Kurukshetra University in Haryana. He came to the country's entertainment capital, Mumbai, in 1965, in search of work as a singer.
A Padma Bhushan award recipient, Singh has sung for many popular Hindi films. He had also sung in several languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati and Nepali. His career boasted a repertoire comprising 50 albums, and he readily contributed to the ghazal, devotional and Bollywood market.
Music icons like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle feel his music will live on.
"I can't imagine the days when I will no longer be able to hear his silken voice, no longer be able to talk to him or listen to his new songs. Now his old ghazals is all we have. His soothing voice, his warm hearted nature are all gone now. He was the pride of India. I also feel bad for his wife Chitra, she is all alone now," said Asha Bhosle.
Lata, with whom Singh collaborated for one of his best sold albums "Sajda", said: "It is such a big loss, an end of an era. He was one artist who never needed films to get popular. He was an instant hit."
Singh also worked with his his singer wife Chitra, whom he married in 1967, on various compilations, including "Ecstasies", "A Sound Affair", "Passions" and "Beyond Time".
His son's death in 1990 was a major setback, but that didn't curb his zeal to create soul-stirring music, and touch a million hearts.
The singer gave the industry memorable numbers like "Hontho se chhoo lo tum" ("Prem Geet"), "Tumko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya" ("Saath Saath"), "Jhuki jhuki si nazar" ("Arth"), "Hoshwalon ko khabar kya" ("Sarfarosh") and "Badi nazuk hai" ("Jogger's Park").
Among his other classic numbers are "Kal chaudhavin ki raat", "Koi ye kaise bataaye", "Woh kaagaz ki kashti", "Chitthi na koi sandesh", "Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho", "Shaam se aankh mein namin si hai", and "Kiska chehra".
Singh had four sisters and two brothers and was known as Jeet by his family.
He was the first Indian composer and, together with wife Chitra, the first recording artist in the history of Indian music to use digital multi-track recording -- for the album "Beyond Time" (1987).
Singh also voiced his concern over the politicisation of arts and culture in India and the lack of support for practitioners of India's traditional art forms, particularly folk artists and musicians.
Since the surgery on him at Lilavati Hospital, Singh was kept in the intensive care unit. A family spokesperson later said his body will be kept at the hospital Monday. "We shall take his body to the crematorium Tuesday for the last rites, till then it continues to be in the hospital," he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his condolence message, said: "I count myself among his admirers and share their sorrow. His music legacy will continue to enchant and entertain."
BJP leader L.K. Advani said: "It is a huge loss to the world of music and art...He was an extraordinary personality."
In Srinagar, Shabir Ahmad, an Urdu teacher, said the likes of Jagjit Singh might not be born for ages.
"There are only three big names who have sung Ghalib and helped him reach the masses. These are K.L. Sehgal, Talat Mehmood and Jagjit Singh," he said.