Ali Azimi

Great Expectations

An Iranian rock star in London: the highs and lows of Ali Azimi’s turbulent career

‘Persistence is the key to success’, my late grandfather used to say; it’s also a philosophy the London-based Iranian musician Ali Azimi keeps close to his heart. A former mechanical engineer, Azimi came to public attention in 2009 with his band, Radio Tehran, and their album, 88. The group was deemed by many a fresh sound in Iran’s alternative rock scene, and the release of their album marked a new beginning for Azimi, who made the decision to dedicate his life to music. During that year, Iran had plunged into a sea of protests (having to do with the disputed presidential elections), and for all Iranians – both inside the country and in the diaspora – it felt like something was about to change. However, almost in the blink of an eye, the collective anticipation seemingly diminished and soon disappeared. Unbeknownst to him and his bandmates, Azimi had captured a renewed sense of hope in 88 (a reference to the Iranian year 1388, corresponding to 2009); but, like the fate of the protests, Radio Tehran soon became mired in problems that ultimately led Azimi to leave Iran and settle in the UK.

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