Singer Manna Dey, who died a year ago today, never quite scaled the heights of his peers, such as Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi. But his classically trained, emotive voice has more than its fair share of loyalists.

Born Prabodh Chandra Dey, the playback singer's career traversed several decades, musical styles, film genres and languages. He was the voice of Lord Ram (in Ram Rajya) and Raj Kapoor (Dey had a long professional relationship with the screen idol) , of teenagers and the terminally ill. He sang several duets, especially with Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar, which is why few think of him as a star soloist. But here are five Manna Dey tunes that demonstrate that he was no slouch, even on his own.

Dil Ka Haal Sune Dilwala

Mukesh was Raj Kapoor’s singing voice most often, but the filmmaker often made place for a Manna Dey moment. This evergreen hit from Shree 420 (1955), composed by Shankar-Jaikishan, proves Dey’s light touch.

Tu Pyar Ka Saagar Hai

This is one of the great “sad songs” of Hindi cinema. It was composed by Shankar-Jaikishan for Seema (1955), and is just one example of Dey’s ability to express tragedy.

Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dwaare

This was composed by Madan Mohan for the 1957 comedy Dekh Kabira Roya, about the adventures of three unemployed young men.

Ae Mero Zohrajabeen

Another playful, incredibly smooth number and a family gathering favourite, composed by Ravi for Waqt  (1965).

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli

Dey was the minor voice of seventies superstar Rajesh Khanna (Kishore Kumar did the honours most of the time). Salil Chowdhury’s composition for Anand, featuring Khanna as an unbeaten dying man, gave Dey one of his most successful late-career solo moments.