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'Godfather of world music' Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies aged 92

12 DECEMBER 2012

Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar has died at the age of 92 in hospital in the US. His family said he had been admitted to San Diego's Scripps Memorial Hospital last week, but had failed to make a full recovery after surgery which would have "potentially given him a new lease of life".

In a statement, the musician's wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka said they were by his side when he passed away. They said: "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. He will live forever in our hearts and in his music."


Ravi Shankar

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Anoushka herself is an accomplished sitar player, and would often duet with her father. To later generations, he was known as the estranged father of popular American Grammy award winning singer Norah Jones (bottom picture).

The Indian prime minister's office confirmed Ravi's death and called him a "national treasure". He helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers in the West discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music over an eight-decade career.

The music maestro was a hippie musical icon of the Sixties who played Woodstock and rubbed shoulders with The Beatles. George Harrison (below with first wife Patti Boyd and Ravi) labelled him "the godfather of world music".

George became interested in the sitar - the Beatle played the instrument on track Norwegian Wood. He approached Ravi for instruction on how to play it properly. The pair spent weeks together, with Ravi giving his new friend startlessons at at the Beatle's UK housein England then moving to a houseboat in Kashmir and later to California.

Ravi Shankar and George Harrison



He also pioneered the concept of the rock benefit with the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh.

Ravi collaborated with George, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane as he worked to bridge the musical gap between West and East.

In 1999 the music icon was awarded the highest civilian citation in India - the Bharat Ratna, or Jewel of India. He was born in the ancient Indian city of Varanasi to a Bengali family. He began studying the sitar at the age of 18, having previously been a dancer in his brother's dance troupe.

He lived out the last of his days in Encinitas, California with his wife and daughter.

 

Norah Jones

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