Pandit Ravi Shankar is considered the world's most famous sitar player. The Indian sub-continent is known for its soul-stirring instrumental music where there have been many famous sitar players in India and Pakistan but none can claim to have mastered the sitar as Shankar did.
Shankar was born in the Indian city of Varanasi on April 7, 1920. He gave a unique touch and a peculiar sound to the sitar, an Eastern string instrument that many people in the West had never heard before.
In the West, Shankar's name is synonymous with the sitar. The musician was an inspiration for many performers, including The Beatles who acknowledged Shankar's greatness and influence on their music. Lead guitarist George Harrison called Shankar 'the godfather of world music.'
Soul music pioneer Ray Charles had not only a good laugh with Shankar but also a good ear for his music. Shankar liked to perform with others. In 1960, he collaborated with the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin to produce the album 'East meets West.'
Shankar is the father of Norah Jones, a famous musician in her own right. The sitar maestro had an affair with Jone's mother, who was a concert producer in New York at the time.
The Indian government presented its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, to Shankar in 1999. Shankar won many prestigious awards during his illustrious career, including the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear award and three Grammies.
Shankar was admitted to a hospital in California on December 6 due to breathing problems. He passed away on December 11. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called his death a great loss to the Indian culture and Indian music.
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