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Sitar master Ravi Shankar dies at 92

Grammy-winning sitar legend Ravi Shankar, who rose to Western fame after teaching Beatle George Harrison to play the odd-looking instrument, died Tuesday (12/11).

Grammy-winning sitar legend Ravi Shankar, who rose to Western fame after teaching Beatle George Harrison to play the odd-looking instrument, died Tuesday (12/11).

The iconic 92-year-old Indian musician passed away at his San Diego area home, surrounded by his wife and daughter Anoushka Shankar, herself a Grammy-nominated sitar player. Shankar suffered upper respiratory and heart issues and had undergone heart-valve replacement surgery last week, according to published reports.

Shankar, who took to the sitar in the late 1930s, began collaborating with Western musicians like jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and violinist Yehudi Menuhin in the 1950s. When Beatles guitarist George Harrison became interested in Indian classical music in the 1960s, he sought out Shankar, eventually learning how to play the sitar from the virtuoso and using the instrument on several songs, including the "Sgt. Pepper" track "Within You Without You."

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"Ravi was a great loss musically, spiritually and physically," fellow Beatle Ringo Starr said in a statement released by a representative. "God bless to Ravi's family. Peace and love."

Shankar, the estranged father of songstress Norah Jones, joined forces with Harrison for The Concert for Bangladesh, a 1971 benefit organized to raise worldwide awareness and funds for Bengali refugees. The two same-day events marked the first-ever benefit concerts of their kind with a lineup featuring Harrison and Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger.

"My Dad's music touched millions of people," Jones said in an issued statement. "He will be greatly missed by me and music lovers everywhere."

Shankar's last public performance occurred in early November, when he shared the stage with his daughter Anoushka.

 

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