Ravi Shankar (Born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury)
April 7, 1920 – December 11, 2012
Ravi Shankar was and Indian musician and composer who is widely considered the most well-known musician India has ever produced. As a master of the sitar, Shankar heavily influenced the later music of the Beatles, and in particular, George Harrison, with whom he collaborated during the ’70s. Learning to play music as a child, Shankar was barely in his teens when he began playing behind a dance group that featured his brother. The group toured Europe and the United States during the ’30s, exposing Shankar to western culture and music. By the dawn of the ’60s, Shankar was finding fans of his music the world over, and while recording in Los Angeles, he was overheard by members of the Byrds, who went on to incorporate Indian sounds into their music. That lead to an introduction to Harrison, who ultimately exposed the sitar to many by way of “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” on the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. Soon, other rock musicians began adding the sitar to their music, resulting in the sub-genre of rock known as raga. “Within Without You” on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is another fine example of Shankar’s influence on their sound. In 1967, Shankar performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, and in 1969, at Woodstock, but he soon decoded to distance himself from the hippie movement. In 1971, Shankar performed at the Harrison-organized Concert For Bangladesh. The resulting album went on to top most of the charts around the world and was named Album of the Year at the 1973 Grammys. Shankar continued to collaborate with Harrison including a 1973 tour of North America which included a stop at the White House and a visit with President Gerald Ford. Over the course of his career, Shankar sold millions of albums, won three Grammys, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his music featured in the film, Gandhi. In December of 2012, he was nominated for yet another Grammy to be awarded in 2013. His children include musicians Norah Jones, Annapurna Devi, Shubhendra “Shubho” Shankar, and Anoushka Shankar, with whom he toured well into his final years. Ravi Shankar was 92 when he passed away on December 11, 2012.
Thanks to Craig Rosen and Number 1 Albums for the assist.