Farhad Mehrad (January 20, 1944 – August 31, 2002) widely known in Iran as Farhad was an award winning Persian legendary Rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist and icon. He rose to prominence among Iranian Rock and Folk musicians before the Iranian Revolution, but after the revolution he was banned from singing for several years. His first concert after the Iranian revolution was held in 1993. To this day he is considered one of the most influential, revolutionary, gifted and respected Iranian artists of all time.
Farhad was born in Tehran. His father was Reza Mehrad, an Iranian diplomat who worked in the Arabic countries for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Being the youngest child, he always behaved differently from his family members and everyone assumed he was trying to act like an adult.
When Farhad was three years of age, his love for music was noticed when he stayed outside his brother's room, listening to his violin lessons. His family bought Farhad a cello and he started taking lessons. After 3 lessons, his cello broke and as Farhad describes "the instrument broke into pieces so did my soul". That was the end of the cello for Farhad and his love and passion for music ended up to be only listening to his brother playing the violin.
When he went to school he found a passion for literature. He decided to study literature in high school but with the absence of his father, his uncle forced him to study science despite his weak results on all other subjects other than literature and English language. His interest being ignored; he quit high school in grade 11 because he had no love for what he was studying.
After quitting high school he met an Armenian music band. Using their instruments, he learned music by experience and after a while he became the guitar player in the band. The band went to southern Iran to perform for the Iranian Oil Company Club - one of the biggest organizations in Iran with many foreign employees. Before the start of the first night's performance, the band made Farhad the singer, the excuse was the vocalist's absence. Farhad's attention and fuss for correct pronunciation of the words, and his knowledge of world literature came as a good advantage; when he performed a few songs in Italian, French and English, it was hard to believe his mother tongue was Persian. That led to the band's success and they performed for an extended number of nights.
After a while Farhad quit the band and started his solo career. In 1964 he performed a few English songs on an Iranian TV show, where he captured the attention of more people.
Later, in an event sponsored by EtelaÃt Javanan, a popular youth magazine, he performed in "Amjadieh" Stadium. He played a few songs with the guitar which was followed by a huge crowd response. That was when Shahbal Shabpareh, the front man of the Iranian popular band "Black Cats" heard about Farhad.
The "Black Cats"
In 1967 Sometime later after Shahbal and Farhad met, Farhad joined the Black Cats (band) as a vocalist, the guitar player and the piano player. The Black Cats members were Shahbal Shabpareh (percussion), Shahram Shabpareh (guitar), Hassan Shamaizadeh (saxophone), Homayoun Khajehnouri (guitar), and Manouchehr Eslami (trumpet). The band started playing in the "Couchini Club". Manouchehr Eslami called Farhad the most important member of the band saying: "Despite the fact that he couldn't read music sheets and had learned the music by listening and playing by experience, Farhad did not need to attend the practice sessions. By whispering the song a few times he could synchronize his voice and instrument with the other band members. In fact he attended the sessions only for the respect of other band members" said Eslami.
In the busiest and most successful time of the band, the first Persian song of Farhad, called Age Ye Jo shaans Daashti (With a little bit of luck) was used in dubbing the movie Banooye Zibaye Man (My Fair Lady) into Persian.
After a while Farhad left the Black Cats to take care of his sick sister in England. Farhad met a famous producer and he was offered a record deal by him. Farhad became ill and due to his illness and personal problems the deal never took place. The journey which was supposed to last for two months, took one year.
Birth of a legend
In 1969 Farhad sang Marde Tanha (A Lonely Man) for the movie Reza Motori (Reza, the Biker). The song was composed by Esfandyar Monfaredzadeh and the lyrics were written by Shahyar Ghanbari. After the release of the movie, the song was released on gramophone discs and Farhad became a legendary star.
Farhad only sang songs which had a message and he believed in their messages. That's why after Marde Tanha he only released three singles during the years 1971-1973. Those were Jomeh (Friday)Hafteye Khakestari (The Grey Week) and Ayeneh (Mirror).
Before the Iranian 1979 Islamic Revolution and during the political conflicts of the 1970s in Iran, Farhad recorded 6 songs with revolutionary messages that became the Iranian's voice of unity.
The day after the Iranian revolution, February 11, 1979, his song "Vahdat" (unity) was broadcast on Iranian television in honor of revolution and freedom.
After The Revolution
After revolution, the Islamic government turned its back on Farhad and refused to grant him permission to publish his album many times. Even the song "Vahdat" which once considered a song in honor of the revolution was refused permission to be released. The government's reason was the song is nothing new; but the fact was the Islamic Government was concerned about his popularity and his influence on people. The government wished Farhad to be forgotten.
Meanwhile, someone with strong connections within the Islamic government , obtained official permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and released Farhad's singles which were recorded before the revolution as an album without Farhad's permission. He called the album Vahdat (Unity). Many Iranians bought the album to keep the memory of Farhad and his remarkable songs alive.
In 1993, after 15 years of silence, Farhad was granted permission to release his first album Khab Dar Bidari (Sleep while awake) and it went straight to the top of the charts just after its release.
After this album Farhad lost hope in the Iranian government's grant of permission system and he released his next album Barf (Snow) in the United States in 1999. Barf was released in Iran a year later.
After Barf, Farhad decided to record an album with songs from different countries and in different languages. He decided to call the album "Amin" (Amen) he started recording, but he died before he could finish the album.
Farhad's Grave, Thiais cemetery, Paris, France
In September 2000, after 2 years of treatment in Iran and France Farhad's illness became serious and on August 31, 2002, , he died of a malignant form of Hepatitis C in Paris, France.
His funeral was attended by many huge Iranian stars like Dariush, Ebi and many more famous Persian entertainers, and like all Iranians around the world mourned the death of this legend. Famous Persian lyricist Shahyar Ghanbari said that part of him died with Farhad. Farid Zoland said he was devastated by Farhad's death. Ebi said that he lost his best friend and favorite singer.
Farhad was cremated and is buried in the Thiais cemetery just outside Paris, France