Ravi Shankar Indian Musician & Sitar legend dies at 92
By Sayed Jawad - Wed Dec 12 2012, 8:57 pm
Pandit Ravi Shankar, the virtuoso sitar maestro who introduced Indian classical music to the world and inspired the Sixties ‘psychedelic’ sound through his collaboration with the Beatles, has died. He was 92.
The legendary sitar player, who taught Beatle George Harrison how to play the stringed instrument and brought Indian music to the West, passed away at age 92 in the early evening in San Diego, near his home, according to his wife, Sukanya, and daughter Anoushka Shankar, who were by his side.
Many say that he will be remembered principally for being the first Indian musician to take the subcontinent’s versatile and spontaneous styles to the West.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also confirmed Shankar’s death and called him a “national treasure.”
Labeled “the godfather of world music” by Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music.
He also pioneered the concept of the rock benefit with the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh. To later generations, he was known as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones.
The sitar ustad or master had continued to perform, usually with his glamorous daughter Anoushka, who is a bestselling musician in her own right, and he gave his last concert just five weeks ago. His other daughter from a previous relationship is the American folk soul singer Norah Jones.
In the 1960s, he took Eastern music mainstream in the West. He lent ethereal, spiritual sounds to the Fab Four through his friendship with Harrison, who recorded them on the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album in the song “Within You Without You.”
Virtuoso performances at Monterey in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969 helped cement Shankar’s place in Western musical history as an ambassador of Eastern wisdom to a generation looking for new values.
Shankar, a three-time Grammy winner with legendary appearances at the 1967 Monterey Festival and Woodstock, had been in fragile health for several years and last Thursday underwent surgery, his family said in a statement.
“Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives,” the family said. “He will live forever in our hearts and in his music.”