UK & World News

  • 12 December 2012, 12:07

Ravi Shankar: 'Godfather Of World Music' Dies

Sitar legend Ravi Shankar, who was described by Beatles guitarist George Harrison as "the godfather of world music", has died at the age of 92.

On confirming the musician's death, the office of the Indian prime minister said he was a "national treasure".

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

He was a hippie musical icon of the 1960s and performed at Woodstock and hobnobbed with The Beatles.

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

To later generations he was better 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.

His close relationship with Harrison, The Beatles' lead guitarist, shot Shankar to global stardom in the 1960s.

Harrison had grown fascinated with the sitar and played the instrument on the song Norwegian Wood.

But he soon sought out Shankar, who was already a musical icon in India, to teach him to play it properly.

The pair spent weeks together, starting the lessons at Harrison's house in England and then moving to a houseboat in Kashmir and later to California.

Harrison went on to record the Indian-inspired song Within You Without You on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, helping spark the raga-rock phase of 60s music and drawing and increasing attention to Shankar and his work.

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