Legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar has died aged 92.
The father of singer Norah Jones, Shankar tough The Beatles’ George Harrison how to play the instrument and was instrumental in bringing Indian music to the West. Harrison once described him as the “godfather of world music”.
According to the BBC, Shankar died in the early evening yesterday (December 11) in San Diego, California, near his home. His family said he had been admitted to hospital last week, but had failed to recover fully from surgery.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described him as a “national treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage”.
Shankar’s wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka said in a statement: “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 a part of our lives. He will live forever in our hearts and in his music.”
Musicians have also taken to Twitter to pay tribute to Shankar. “The great Ravi Shankar has left the building. An amazing talent and the maker of a beautiful sound, Tim Burgess wrote. Meanwhile, producer Giles Martin, son of longtime Beatles Sir George Martin wrote “I’m very sad to hear of the death of #ravishankar. A beautiful, worldly man with warmth and talent. I bet George is happy to see him again.”
To see more tribute messages from musicians posted on Twitter, including Sean Lennon, scroll down the page.
Shankar was born in the ancient Indian city of Varanasi. Originally a dancer with his brothers’ troupe, he gave up dancing to study the sitar aged 18. He later played at Woodstock and the 1967 Monterey Pop festival. Speaking later in life about playing the festival, he said he was shocked when Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on stage: That was too much for me. In our culture, we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God,” he said.
Before his death, Shankar was living in Encinitas, California, with his wife.
Watch George Harrison being taught sitar by Ravi Shankar above.