Eastern Inspiration: Americans may know Ravi Shankar best for his collaboration with George Harrison and the rest of the Beatles, or for the fact that he is father to pop star Nora Jones. But Shankar earned his fame through his deep love and devotion to the instrument of his native India — the sitar.
Shankar died Tuesday in a hospital near his home in Southern California. He was 92.
Shankar became a talented sitar player while traveling and performing with his older brother's dance troupe. While Shankar gained fame through his brother's troupe, which became based in Paris, in 1936, he took the advice of In 1936 an Indian court musician, Allaudin Khan, and returned to a village in India to focus solely on the sitar.
After seven years of intense training, Shankar mastered the instrument and he then started reaching out to western musicians to collaborate. Besides the Beatles' Harrison (who plays the sitar in the song, "Norwegian Wood") Shankar would also play with John Coltrane, the Rolling Stones and composer Philip Glass, among others.
Shankar would later start to feel ambivalent about his incorporation into western rock concerts — he was discouraged by the prevalent use of drugs in the hippie culture. But, in the end, Shankar felt proud he had introduced the western world to the classical music of his country.
Both of Shankar's daughters (from two different marriages) also became musicians. Nora Jones has won nine Grammies for her singing and songwriting and Anoushka Shankar has become a sitar master in her own right.