Ravi Shankar. Photo Reuters
Sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar, who helped introduce
the sitar to the Western world through his collaborations with
The Beatles, has died in Southern California, his family said.
He was 92.
Shankar, a three-time Grammy winner with legendary
appearances at the 1967 Monterey Festival and at Woodstock,
had been in fragile health for several years and last
Thursday underwent surgery, his family 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," the family
said. "He will live forever in our hearts and in his music."
In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office posted a
Twitter message calling Shankar a "national treasure and
global ambassador of India's cultural heritage."
"An era has passed away with ... Ravi Shankar. The nation
joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art
and his humility," the Indian premier added.
Shankar 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, south of Los
The surgery was successful but he was unable to recover.
"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. We were at his side when
he passed away," his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka said.
Shankar lived in both India and the United States. He is also
survived by his daughter, Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones,
three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Shankar performed his last concert with his daughter Anoushka
on Nov. 4 in Long Beach, California, the statement said. The
night before he underwent surgery, he was nominated for a
Grammy for his latest album "The Living Room Sessions, Part
'NORWEGIAN WOOD' TO 'WEST MEETS EAST'
His family said that memorial plans will be announced at a
later date and requested that donations be made to the Ravi
Shankar is credited with popularizing Indian music through
his work with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and The Beatles in the
late 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).
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, becoming 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
Shankar served as a member of the upper chamber of the
Parliament of India, from 1986 to 1992, after being nominated
by then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
A man of many talents, he also wrote the Oscar-nominated
score for 1982 film "Gandhi," several books, and mounted
He also built an ashram-style home and music center in India
where students could live and learn, and later the Ravi
Shankar Center in Delhi in 2001, which hosts an annual music
Yet his first brush with the arts was through dance.
Born Robindra Shankar in 1920 in India's holiest city,
Varanasi, he spent his first few years in relative poverty
before his eldest brother took the family to Paris.
For about eight years, Shankar danced in his brother's Indian
classical and folk dance troupe, which toured the world. But
by the late 1930s he had turned his back on show business to
learn the sitar and other classical Indian instruments.
Shankar earned multiple honours in his long career, including
an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Britain's Queen
Elizabeth for services to music, the Bharat Ratna, India's
highest civilian award, and the French Legion d'Honneur.