He brought his signature ethereal music to the Eastern world in the 1960s, stringing his sitar at Woodstock and Monterey at a time when music, politics, and the meaning of life were undefined, just like the spiritual sounds he created.
As a “hippie” musical icon, Ravi Shankar personally taught The Beatles’ George Harrison to play the sitar, used his beautiful music to influence politics, and is the godfather of the fundraising pop event, launching the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh for flood refugees pouring into India.
He passed his musical genes on; father to jazz singer Norah Jones and sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar. But complications from a heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday took Ravi, 92, away from the music world he helped shape. He passed away on Tuesday evening in San Diego, near his home, according to his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka Shankar, who were by his side.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery,” his wife and daughter 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 part of our lives.”
Although Shankar remained an enigma to most of the Western world despite his world fame, world tours and major collaborations, there is no doubt that influence on the music world is still felt today. He will certainly be missed.