Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ravi Shankar

When it comes to facts about the Beatles, the name Ravi Shankar looms large. Born in Benares, India in 1920, famed Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar had a profound influence on Beatle George Harrison. It was after Harrison heard a recording by Shankar that he purchased a sitar from the store India Craft in London. Harrison used the instrument on "Norwegian Wood," "Love You To," and "Within You, Without You." The sitar has largely been recognized in Western culture as a result of these tracks, showing the tremendous power the Beatles had in influencing music and culture in general.

Harrison studied with Shankar for many years, and in the years preceding his death, Harrison appeared in public at many events with Shankar to promote healthy living practices in order to avoid the expensive and stressful treatment of disease.

Shankar became aggravated with Western culture's association of sitar music with stereotypical aspects of Indian culture, such as yoga, mantras, or the Kama Sutra, but he nevertheless appeared at many concerts in the United States over the past four decades, and also was featured in Woodstock and The Concert for Bangladesh (and many other films).

Shankar has composed several concertos and collaborated with famous classical musicians such as Jean-Pierre Rampal and Yehudi Menuhin. He has won three Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.

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