Sajid Khan – Sajid! (1969)

Indian teen idol Sajid Khan won the hearts of teenage girls all over North America via the short lived television show Maya (1966), but primarily via teen magazines, especially “16 Magazine.”

In the world of entertainment there is “has been” and “never was,” and somewhere in between was Sajid Khan.

Man, I gotta admit that I just love everything to do with Sajid Khan. This guy and his short and strange career as an American teen idol just fascinates me. There isn’t a ton of stuff out there about him, but his brief fame in the late 1960’s is one of my favorite pop culture rabbit holes to run down and, besides a handful of teen magazines, the only item I own featuring him is his 1969 lp “Sajid!” which was his final attempt to make his mark on American culture. I did not get this at a local record ship. This was a Discogs purchase with a ridiculously large shipping cost. That’s how much I wanted this rather bland and strange album. Its not a classic, but its one of my favorite albums in my collection

So, who was Sajid Khan, and why do I care about him? Well, Sajid Khan was born in poverty in Bombay, but was discovered in the market place by Bollywood filmmaker Mehboob Khan who put him in a number of successful Indian films. Khan legally adopted Sajid, but upon his death, Sajid was sent to America by his adopted mother to get an education.

When “Maya” made its way from movie theatres to television in 1966, both stars Sajid Khan and Jay North got press in “16 Magazine,” but when the show was promptly cancelled, Jay dissappered but Saj stayed a fixture in the magazines for the rest of the decade.

Well, in 1966 Sajid gets a role in an American adventure film called “Maya,” featuring former “Dennis the Menace” star Jay North, and it becomes a popular enough film amongst kids that it’s picked up as a TV series. Now Jay was never a favorite amongst the public, but the good locking and exotic Sajid caught the attention of the audience, and especially teenage girls.

Enter Gloria Stavers. Far more should be written about Gloria and her influence on 1960’s culture. For those who have never heard of her, Gloria was the publisher and main writer of teen publication “16 Magazine,” and had the ability to make, or break, stars that teen girls were interested in. A tough lady with impeccable taste and sense of timing, she literally is responsible for creating the North American teen idol market in the early 1960’s, and some of the stars that she took an interest in and helped push to the top included Peter Noone, Mark Lindsay, Dino, Desi and Billy, The Cowsills, David McCallum, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy and the cast of Dark Shadows. She was also lovers with Jim Morrison, but that’s another story.

16 Magazine publisher Gloria Stavers, who has the ability to make stars and crush careers, depending on who she took interest in. One of the criminally overlooked architects of modern culture, Gloria took special interest in Sajid Khan and promoted him extensively despite him being out of work for much of his time in America.

As a writer and sometimes journalist, Gloria Stavers is a hero of mine, and I studied her stuff closely in university. Disregarded by her contemporaries, and forgotten today, she is one of the most ignored architects of modern culture. I could write pages and pages on her (and someone should) but this is Sajid Khan’s story.

Well, Gloria REALLY REALLY liked Sajid and became personally involved in his business affairs, basically quietly repping him in an unofficial manner. You see, the Beatles had just gone off with the Maharishi, people are buying Ravi Shankar albums, and suddenly Eastern philosophy was hot. Sajid fit the teen version of this trend, and Gloria wanted to capitalize on it in her magazine. But the irony was, “Maya” was cancelled after only 18 episodes, and Sajid was out of work. Well, that didn’t deter Gloria. She plastered his name and face on dozens of magazines covers with pictorial articles such as “Sajid goes to San Francisco,” “Sajid goes to the children’s hospital,” “Sajid goes to the zoo,” “Sajid goes to the Newport Jazz festival,” “Sajid answers fifty intimate questions” and “Sajid dreams about YOU, girl!” For four years, despite making only a handful of TV appearances, Gloria kept Sajid’s face in print, and the girls loved him. They didn’t know why they loved him because, for the most part, they never saw him in anything, but he was good looking, and Gloria’s exposure was enough to keep him in the hearts of teen girls everywhere.

Although “Maya” was cancelled after only 18 episodes, Gloria Stavers kept him front and center on magazine covers, and making him a popular heart throb despite most of his fans having never seen him in anything.

So, in 1969, although still on top of the teen radar, Sajid’s time was declining. He still hadn’t landed a major role in a television show or film in North America. So, what does a teen star do when he’s run out of ideas? Cut an album of course!

“Sajid!” was released in 1969 with little fanfare, with the actor doing covers of a diverse range of songs including “I Started a Joke,” “I Love How You Love Me,” “Getting to Know You,” “Smile,” “Moon River” and “This Guys in Love with You.” It aslso had an Indian f;avored number called “Ha Ram” which was released as the album’s single and shipped to radio stations. Production wise the album is unimpressive and mediocre, and while Sajid has a unique and non-offensive singing voice, its nothing remarkable. It was obviously bought by his hard-core teen fans, but for the most part the album was entirely ignored. It never spawned a hit, never got any attention.

An ad for Sajid Khan’s 1969 TV special filmed to promote his album.

But, not without Gloria Stavers trying! Her fingers were all over this album. The back cover’s liner notes were written by Gloria, and staged photos of hm singing “in concert” were shot by her. Sajid appeared on Bandstand (Gloria and Dick Clark worked hand in hand cross promoting favorite performers) and the album even was promoted with its own TV special, featuring Sajid alongside Harper’s Bizarre (one of my least favorite groups of the era), but even this special is now a forgotten dusty oddity which time has forgotten.

A year later, Sajid Khan finally called it a day and, with one last “16 Magazine” article headlined “Sajid Says Goodbye to America,” he slipped out of sight and returned to his home country. I have no idea where he is now. Its been said he went into the textile business.

If I had the money or resources, I’d love to take a camera crew and film a documentary where I go to India in search for Sajid Khan to get my record signed, but he could be difficult to find. Looking for a “Sajid Khan” in India is like weeding through all the “Brian Whites” in America.

While he slipped into obscurity, Sajid retains a very small group of fans that remember him from their childhood. Once you enter the public sphere, you never fully leave for good.

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