It was in the late 50’s when someone owed my brother Rs 25, so in exchange he brought home a 🎸 guitar. I was 15, looked at it and instantly became quite fascinated, however, it had only one string. At the time there was a musical instrument store that recently opened on Tariq Road called ‘Wood and Tone’; so I went there and asked them to fix it. When it arrived home after being fixed and tuned, I began strumming it with little knowledge of how it was played other than watching Elvis strumming it in the movies. Eventually my friend and Co-founder Shahid Habib and I figured out how to play tunes by ear and hence ‘Thunders” came into being.
With dedication and practice we both perfected our guitar playing skills and was joined by now Dr Ajmal Khan on bass. Shahid loved playing rhythm and surprisingly I was a natural drummer, but somehow ended up playing lead – I loved it! We didn’t have professional instruments and didn’t know how to raise money. A good soul introduced us to Anjum Karim, whose father owned the H M silk mills. We became friends, and he financed our group, with one caveat that he’ll play drums, it was a no brainer.
After our instruments arrived from Germany, we realised that he only wanted to impress girls, but had no real talent musically. So we hired, the late great Sidney D’Souza to teach him (which was in vain). Finally, we decided to go ahead with our plans to play with Sidney as our drummer. Man we sounded good…. suffice to say we were the ‘first’ band in Karachi with Muslim musicians. We were then joined by the late Azmut Butt as our drummer and lead singer. Our main genre was instrumental music as ours was the era of The Shadows, The Ventures etc. – the craze of the day.
We were quite established as a band and played often for Lahore And Pindi TV; scored the theme music for ‘Aurat aur Zamana’ and even bagged the opportunity to act and perform in the movie. We were invited to play in Murree and Dacca (East Pakistan).
The highlight of our endeavours came in 1967, when the battle of the bands took place at the Navy Fleet Club. It was the first of its kind and tons of people came out to support the event; standing room only with an overflow of folks who couldn’t get in. What an experience. Never duplicated ever…
Morning News gave us the thumbs up as the best instrumental group. There were other greats, like The Bugs, but they were more into singing and harmony as they were trying to emulate the Beatles who had burst into the music scene.
In addition, we were the featured live band at the Metropole Hotel disco and at the jam sessions at the Beach Luxury hotel. We also played at all the major venues and clubs, like KPI, KGA, St Joseph’s, PECHS girls school to name a few.
Note from the Editor:
In 1967, the first ever pop music concert ‘Battle of the Bands’ took place at the Navy Fleet Club. This was the brain child of late Perveiz ‘mod’ Ayub. The theatre had an 800 seat capacity but over a 1000 folks turned up; standing room only.
Six bands were invited to perform and at the time two were very popular: Thunders and The Bugs. Both bands had a huge following which added to the electric atmosphere and most folks just wanted to witness who was going to be considered ‘the best’ . There was a lot of noise, screaming and then some great entertainment. Azim reminisces,
“Even after all these years it still sends goose bumps; folks still talk about that evening. At the end, suffice to say, all of us individually and collectively were talented and all of our performances were enhanced by the ambience of the crowd. After all these years we are all still friends… even today.”
The bands performing that evening were The Mods, The Loving Kind, The Blitz, The Bugs, The Thunders and The Fore Thoughts.