Ustad Alla Rakha Khan (aka A. R. Qureshi) who found world renown as a tabla player, also had a career as a music director in the Hindi film industry for many years. He was credited as A.R. Qureshi for his work in Hindi films.
Born on April 29, 1919 in Phagwal, Jammu, he is the father of another world famous tabla player Zakir Hussain. When tabla caught his imagination at the age of 12, A.R. Qureshi ran away from home to learn the instrument from Mian Qader Baksh of the Punjab Gharana. In the 1940s, he got a job in All India Radio, Bombay. From 1946 to 1958, he composed music for more than 40 films.
Despite his popularity in Bollywood, Allah Rakha continued accompanying Hindustani music maestros of the day in live concerts. He played alongside musicians like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan and others. Eventually, he gave up composing music for films and focussed on playing the tabla. In the 1960s, Allah Rakha became popular in the West, when he started accompanying Pandit Ravi Shankar in concerts across the world. His performances in the Monterey Pop Festival (1967) and Woostock (1969) are remembered to this day.
Ustad Allah Rakha won the Padma Shri in 1977 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1982.
He succumbed to a heart attack on February 3, 2000, following the news of the unexpected demise of one of his daughters.