Originally from Hadramout, Yemen, a young Salem moved from Traim to Aden where he met several poets, singers and musicians, namely, Lutfi Jafar Aman, Ahmed bin Ahmed Qasim and Mohammad Saad Abdullah, and eventually started singing.
One of his first famous songs was “Ya Ward Ma7la Jamalak.”
In 1967, Salem left Aden for Jeddah, where he pioneered a new genre of music, called Khaleeji music, along with others such as Tariq Abdul-Hakim and Talal Maddah.
Salem received several medals and honors throughout his rich artistic career from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Arab countries. The Arab League honored him in 2002 along with other Arab art pioneers.
The versatile artist traveled frequently between Aden, Beirut, Jeddah and Cairo before settling in Riyadh.
Tributes poured in from celebrities and fans alike from across the Arab world.
Lebanese singer Elissa wrote on Twitter: “We lost a great artist in the music industry ... Abu Bakr Salem, one of the icons of modern Khaleeji music. May he rest in peace.”
“The knight disembarked his horse and left us. Our dear father Abu Bakr Salem left us. Let’s pray together for him, Oh Allah, give him a home better than his home, and a family better than his family. Treat him with your mercy and take him into paradise,” Emirati singer Ahlam tweeted.
Pop star Nancy Ajram wrote: “May Allah have mercy on the singer Abu Bakr Salem … warmest condolences to his family and all his loved ones.”
Lebanese superstar Ragheb Alama said: “The death of the artist Abu Bakr Salem is a great loss to the Arab music and entertainment world ... May God’s mercy be upon you Abu Bakr ... Warm condolences to his family and loved ones ... Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return.”