Parikrama Lead Guitarist Sonam Sherpa Passes Away at 48

Sherpa was a founding member of Parikrama along with bandmates Subir Malik and Nitin Malik.

3 min read
Guitarist Sonam Sherpa (centre) with members of Parikrama.

Sonam Sherpa, the lead guitarist of Indian rock band Parikrama, has passed away at 48 in his hometown of Kalimpong, West Bengal. The musician reportedly suffered cardiac arrest.

Reacting to the news, the band’s vocalist Nitin Malik told The Indian Express, “At this point, we have very limited information because Sonam was out of town. Apparently, he had a heart attack this morning. I can confirm that he didn’t have any heart condition. He was in fact very health conscious in the last ten years. He was eating right and sleeping right. He was really taking good care of himself. He had started exercising recently as well and lost a lot of weight. He was trying to be as fit as possible.”

Parikrama frontman Subir Malik said he was "in a state of shock" on hearing of his demise. "Sonam was in Kurseong to record the music for an upcoming movie. I am told he suffered a massive cardiac arrest there. It is not yet clear at this stage where the last rites will be performed," he told EastMojo.

Born on 8 October 1971, in West Bengal, Sherpa moved to Delhi to study at Delhi University affiliated Kirori Mal College. He had been playing the guitar since he was nine years old. “My mom bought me my first guitar and sent me off to start my guitar lessons. Luckily for me, my teacher was a really cool guy and he really inspired me to take my music seriously and enjoy it,” said the axeman, who counted The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin among his influences, in a 2011 interview.

Sherpa joined rock band Parikrama in 1991, as part of the founding line-up of brothers Subir and Nitin Malik (vocals) Chintan Kalra (bass), Prashant Bahadur (guitars) and Rahul Malhotra. The guitarist, who was most often seen with his Gibson Les Paul, gave us the memorable solo on ‘But it Rained’ and helped write songs such as ‘Am I Dreaming’, ‘Gonna Get It’ and ‘Vapourize’. He went on to found two other bands, Mrigya and North East Express, but continued to tour with Parikrama across the country.

In 2003, he started the Parikrama School of music at Haus Khas in Delhi. He also began writing and recording jingles and film scores with his bandmates Subir and Nitin, including for 2014 film Manjunath.

Vishal Dadlani, Musicians Mourn Sherpa's Passing

Fellow musicians have taken to social media to mourn Sherpa's death. "Can't believe you're gone, man. From watching you at Autumn Muse circa 1994, playing a crazy solo while spinning around on the stage floor... to hanging and jamming and traveling with you... you were one of the warmest, kindest and most generous human beings I've met - apart from being a mean player of the blues! Gone too soon, Sonam da. Our condolences and love to your wonderful family," wrote Thermal and a Quarter frontman Bruce Lee Mani.

Sonam Sherpa! Can't believe you're gone, man. From watching you at Autumn Muse circa 1994, playing a crazy solo while...

Posted by Bruce Lee Mani on Friday, February 14, 2020

Music composer and Pentagram frontman Vishal Dadlani expressed his grief calling Sherpa a "true Indian legend" and a "pioneer, teacher and inspiration to so many."

Actor Farhan Akhtar said in an interview with Pune Times, "I can never forget or adequately say how thankful I am for the love and warmth that Sonam Sherpa extended."

Sherpa is survived by his wife Dina and son Nathan.

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