Ravi Shankar, world-famous sitarist, dead at 92 (VIDEO)


Renown Indian Sitar maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar plays during the 'Premaanjali Festival 2012' a musical concert held at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore on February 7, 2012. Pandit Ravi shankar performed with his daughter Anoushka Shankar in what is said to be his last concert in the city of Bangalore.


Manjunath Kiran

India's Ravi Shankar, possibly the world's most famous sitarist, died today at the age of 92.

Shankar passed away at a San Diego hospital, where he was reportedly admitted last week after for unspecified surgery, said BBC News.

Unfortunately "his body was not able to withstand the strain," his family said in a statement.

Shankar was a sitar legend, with almost 80 years of success to his name.

His concerts at places like Woodstock and the 1967 Monterey Pop festival helped bring Indian music to the world stage, said the BBC. He collaborated with Western musicians as diverse as jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, modern composer Philip Glass and, perhaps most famously, the Beatles.

Shankar taught George Harrison to play sitar, as you can hear on 'Norwegian Wood'. Harrison once dubbed Shankar "the godfather of world music," according to the Associated Press.

"It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars," Shankar says in this 1968 video of his lessons with Harrison. "When George Harrison came to me, I didn't know what to think. But I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene. It's peculiar, but out of this, a real interest is growing."

The three-time Grammy winner was born in Varanasi, India, into a musical Bengali family. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid tribute to a "national treasure," said AP. Shankar, who has lived in California for the last few years, was given the highest civilian title in India, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) in 1999, said the BBC

He is survived by his wife Sukanya and two daughters, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and Grammy award-winning singer Norah Jones.

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Watch a clip from Shankar's concert at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the performance that first made him famous in the West (George Harrison had lobbied to get him on the bill):

Here's part of Shankar's now legendary performance at Woodstock, two years later:

Here's Shankar with his most famous pupil in 1968 (he took a while to get the hang of it):

And here's Shankar giving a "sitar lesson" to his daughter Anoushka, herself a highly accomplished player, in 2010:

[View the story "'Beautiful talent, beautiful soul': World pays tribute to Ravi Shankar" on Storify]