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Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies at 92

Ravi Shankar was called the “godfather of world music” by the Beatles’ George Harrison.

Times files (1976)

Ravi Shankar was called the “godfather of world music” by the Beatles’ George Harrison.

NEW DELHI — Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, who played at Woodstock and hobnobbed with the Beatles, died Tuesday in San Diego. He was 92.

The Indian prime minister's office confirmed his death and called him a "national treasure."

Shankar, a musical icon of the hippie 1960s, helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers in the West discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music over an eight-decade career.

Beatle George Harrison labeled him "the godfather of world 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.

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

Describing an early Shankar tour in 1957, Time magazine said "U.S. audiences were receptive but occasionally puzzled."

His close relationship with Harrison, the Beatles' lead guitarist, shot Shankar to global stardom in the 1960s. Harrison had grown fascinated with the sitar for its resonating chamber and resemblance to a giant lute. He played it on the song Norwegian Wood, but soon sought out Shankar to teach him to play it properly.

Shankar won three Grammys in his career and was nominated for an Oscar for his musical score for the movie Gandhi.

His personal life was complex. In 1979, he fathered Norah Jones with concert promoter Sue Jones. When he and Sue Jones became estranged in the 1980s, he didn't see Norah for a decade, though they later re-established contact.

Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies at 92 12/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:04am]
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