He studied classical music from Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jivan Lal Mattu and Firoze Nizami.
In 1941, the All-India Radio, Lahore Radio Station, invited Rafi to sing for them.
In 1944, Rafi moved to Mumbai and lived with Hamid Sahab in a ten-by-ten-foot rented room in the crowded city center, in the Bhendi Bazar area.
In 1948, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the team of Husanlal Bhagatram-Rajendra Krishan and Rafi instantly created the song “Sunyo Sun Ae Duniyavalon, Bapuji Ki Amar Kahani”. Then Jawaharlal Nehru invited him to sing in his house.
He has worked with various prominent composers such as Naushad, S.D. Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, O.P. Nayyar, Ravi, Laxmikant-Piarelal and many others.
Rafi’s last song for composer Laxmikant-Piaralal was written by “Shaam Phir Kyun Udaas Hai Dost, Tu Kahin Aas Paas Hai Dost”, recorded a few hours before his death.
In June 2010, Rafi, along with Lata Mangeshkar, was recognized as the most popular singer in the Outlook music survey conducted by Outlook magazine.
Shahid Rafi and Sujata Dev wrote their official biography, “Mohammed Rafi: The Golden Voice of the Silver Screen”, which was released on its 91st birthday.
“Padma Sri Mohammed Rafi Chowk” in the suburb of Bandra Mumbai was named after him.