Indian Sitarist Ravi Shankar Dies Aged 92

The iconic Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar died yesterday aged 92.

Varanasi born Shankar managed to captivate the world with his sitar music, befriending and inspiring the Beatles, whilst earning the place as a hippie musical icon, as he brought traditional Indian ragas to Western societies.

Shankar was previously labeled ‘the godfather of world music’ by Beatles star George Harrison, as he brought centuries old Indian music to millions of jazz, rock and classical music fans.

A statement released by Shankar’s wife on the music icon’s website reveals that he passed away yesterday in San Diego, close to his Southern Californian home. At the time of his death the 92 year-old was joined by his wife and one of his daughters. Shankar had recently suffered from upper respiratory and heart problems, undergoing heart-valve replacement surgery just last week.

Since the announcement of Shankar’s death a host of famous faces have paid their tributes to him and the music legacy he created. Manmohan Singh, the current Indian Prime Minister referred to Shankar as a ‘national treasure’ whilst confirming his passing.

Meanwhile, Shivkumar Sharma a renowned santoor player who performed alongside Shankar on several occasions, has told the India media how Shankar was a musical pioneer, stating: “He was legend of legends: Indian classical was not at all known in the Western world. He was the musician who had that training … the ability to communicate with the Western audience.”

Shankar shared his love for music with his three children- each of whom came from separate relationships. Shankar’s second child, the now famous singer Norah Jones, went on to become a Grammy Award-winning recording star. Despite Shankar being an estranged father to Jones, his passion for music was built into her genes.

Anoushka Shankar Wright, Shankar’s second daughter, and third child had a much closer relationship with her father, performing and recording sitar music with him right up to his death. The pair last performance was on November 4th, in Long Beach, California.

Whilst Shankar played at some of the world’s biggest rock festivals such as Woodstock, throughout his career he firmly stood by his anti-drug beliefs and the rebelliousness, which came with the hippie culture, he had become a martyr of. Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine of when Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar at Monterey Festival, Shankar explained his shock stating: “That was too much for me. In our culture, we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God.”

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