Lahore: Internet sensation One Pound Fish Man returned to a hero's welcome in Pakistan on Thursday, vowing to take his signature tune in honour of cut-price produce to France and the United States.
Hundreds showed up at Lahore airport in eastern Pakistan to honour Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who scaled the British music charts with "One Pound Fish", which he originally composed to entice shoppers at the east London market where he worked.
The song became a YouTube hit after someone filmed Nazir singing it at the market and Warner Music signed him up for a record deal in the hope of getting the coveted Christmas number one spot in the charts.
Nazir said he spent no time writing the song -- it came to him in a flash after his boss urged him to do something to encourage customers to cough up a pound ($1.60) for a fish.
"This song is gift of God to me, I just sang it on the spot," the father-of-four told reporters at the airport.
"The owner of my fish stall asked me to sing to attract the customers and I started singing. On the first day I started slowly and on the second day more loudly."
Around 250 people including local politicians met him at the airport, showering him with rose petals and chanting "Long live One Pound Fish", while TV networks interrupted coverage of the fifth anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination to show his return live.
The song's lyrics are deceptively simple: "Come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish. Very very good, one pound fish, very very cheap, one pound fish."
The original video has been viewed more than 6.5 million times on YouTube and the "o-fish-al" Warner video featuring Nazir shimmying and strutting Bollywood-style in a natty suit has recorded more than eight million hits.
The Christmas number one was not to be, with a single released in tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster claimed the top spot, but "One Pound Fish" managed a respectable 29 in the chart.
Nazir, from the small Punjab town of Pattoki, said he was confident of a bright future in the music industry.
"I will go to France in two weeks to release this song and then will go back to London," he said, adding that he also planned to release the track in the United States.
British media reports suggested Nazir was deported from Britain for overstaying or breaching the terms of his visa, but he insisted he had returned to Pakistan simply to apply for a French visa.
And he promised not to abandon the unlikely source of his stardom.
"I will adopt music as a profession now, but I can never forget my fish stall," he said.