Zubin Mehta speaks at memorial services for sitar legend Ravi Shankar in Encinitas, California. REUTERS/Sam Hodgson
Ravi Shankar's daughters, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar,
along with the wife of late Beatle George Harrison have said
their final goodbyes to the Indian sitar virtuoso at a public
memorial service in Encinitas, California.
The legendary musician and composer, who helped introduce the
sitar to the Western world through his collaboration with The
Beatles, died on Dec. 11 in Southern California. He was 92.
About 700 people joined Shankar's wife, Sukanya, and family
at the service held at a spiritual center in the coastal town
about 25 miles (40 km) north of San Diego.
Olivia Harrison, the widow of Beatles guitarist George
Harrison, told Reuters the three-time Grammy winner who
formed a musical and spiritual bond with The Beatle
"expressed music at its deepest level."
"As a person he was just sweet and seemed to know
everything," she added. "He was a true citizen of the world."
Shankar is credited with popularizing Indian music through
his work with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and The Beatles
beginning in the mid-1960s, inspiring George Harrison to
learn the sitar and the British band to record songs like
"Norwegian Wood" (1965) and "Within You, Without You" (1967).
"He completely transformed (George's) musical sensibilities,"
a tearful Harrison told the crowd. "They exchanged ideas and
melodies until their hearts and minds were intertwined like a
His friendship with Harrison led him to appearances at the
Monterey and Woodstock pop festivals in the late 1960s and
the 1972 Concert for Bangladesh. He became one of the first
Indian musicians to become a household name in the West.
His influence in classical music, including on composer
Philip Glass, was just as large. His work with Menuhin on
their "West Meets East" albums in the 1960s and 1970s earned
them a Grammy, and he wrote concertos for sitar and orchestra
for both the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York
"I always felt like a little crumb in his presence," Zubin
Mehta, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic
and collaborator with Shankar, said at the service.
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock also attended the service along
with "Anna Karenina" director Joe Wright, the husband of
Shankar's daughter Anoushka.
Shankar, who had lived in Encinitas for the past 20 years,
had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the
past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last
week at a hospital in San Diego.
The surgery was successful but he was unable to recover.
Shankar's final concert was on Nov. 4 in Long Beach,
California, with his Grammy-winning sitarist daughter
Anoushka, who spoke giving thanks to those who came. Jones,
the third Grammy-winner in the family, did not speak at the
(Writing by Eric Kelsey; editing by Philip Barbara)