Ilham al-Madfai

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Ilham al-Madfai (إلهام المدفعي)
Al Madfai performing in 2005
Al Madfai performing in 2005
Background information
Also known asThe Baghdad Beatle
Born1942 (age 79–80)
OriginBaghdad, Kingdom of Iraq
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1961–present
LabelsEMI, Virgin

Ilham al-Madfai (Arabic: إلهام المدفعي) (born 1942)[1][2] is an Iraqi guitarist, singer and composer. al-Madfai's synthesis of Western guitar stylings with traditional Iraqi music has made him a popular performer in his native country and throughout the Middle East. Beginning in 1999, al-Madfai released a string of albums on EMI's label, including his platinum[citation needed] eponymous debut, Ilham al-Madfai (1999), Live at the Hard Rock Cafe (2001), Baghdad (2003) and The Voice of Iraq: The Best of Ilham al-Madfai (2005). In 2009, Al-Madfai released Dishdasha. His Western-inspired compositions led to a nickname; "The Baghdad Beatle".


Al-Madfai began studying guitar at age twelve. He formed The Twisters in 1961, Iraq's first rock and roll band.[3] Following a three-year sojourn in Kuwait with the group, al-Madfai moved to England to complete an engineering degree. While in London, he became a regular at the Baghdad Cafe, where he met fellow musicians Paul McCartney, Donovan and Georgie Fame.[3] Returning to Baghdad in 1967, he began to mix Western and Eastern instrumentation and rhythms. Al-Madfai developed a major following in Iraq in the 1970s, but Saddam Hussein's rise to power in 1979 compelled the artist to leave and take construction jobs around the Gulf for much of the following decade.

Al-Madfai returned to Iraq shortly before the First Gulf War and was subsequently banned from leaving the country. He emigrated to Jordan in 1994, where he presently resides. Al-Madfai was granted Jordanian citizenship from King Hussein, for exceptional talents and achievement. On 9 August 2010, he was the featured artist in a late-night prom at the Royal Albert Hall in London.[4]

In 2017 a Polish documentary movie Arabic secret was released in which his Polish son visited him for the very first time in Jordan. Ilham al-Madfai was surprised with the visit.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Ilham al-Madfai (1999) EMI
  • Live at the Hard Rock Cafe (2001) EMI
  • Baghdad (2003) EMI
  • The Voice of Iraq: The Best of Ilham al-Madfai (2005) EMI
  • Dishdasha (2009) Virgin


External links[edit]