Written by Riya Chakravarty
December 12, 2012 14:06 IST
What began as a 'guru-shishya' relationship, ended up into a close and one of the most cherished friendships on the International music scene. (This photo was tweeted by Punepedia @Punepedia)
Sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar's greatest achievement was to place Indian classical music on the world stage. He did this by collaborating with a number of international musicians, most famously with The Beatles' lead guitarist George Harrison.
George Harrison developed a fascination with Indian classical music and the sitar in particular before he met Pt Shankar, using the instrument in the 1965 Beatles' song Norwegian Wood.
It was amidst the counter-culture movement of the 1960s that Mr Harrison was introduced to the works of Ravi Shankar. The guitarist sought out Mr Shankar with a view to formally learning how to play the sitar. What began as a 'guru-shishya' relationship, ended up into a close and one of the most cherished friendships on the International music scene.
The pair met in London and began lessons in Mr Harrison's home. They spent weeks in England before moving to a houseboat in Kashmir and later to California.
George Harrison's Indian influences can be heard on songs like Across The Universe and Within You, Without You which was featured on The Beatles' Grammy-winning album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Mr Harrison labeled Pandit Ravi Shankar 'the godfather of world music' and the songs drew increasing international attention towards Pandit Ravi Shankar's work.
The sitar maestro's music became a rage and he collaborated with some of the most famous musicians of the time. Mr Shankar played a four hour set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and later at the opening day of Woodstock festival in 1969 and the concert for Bangladesh in 1971.
Pandit Ravi Shankar's close association with George Harrison remained intact even after Mr Harrison's death in 2001. "I feel I have been cheated by George. Why did he have to go so soon at such a young age when I really wanted to go first?," Mr Shankar wrote in 2002 after George Harrison's death. He maintained close ties with his wife Olivia and son Dhani.
Pandit Ravi Shankar and his sitarist daughter Anoushka also performed together at the Concert For George which was held to mark George Harrison's first death anniversary in 2002.