Sitar icon Ravi Shankar died yesterday at his home near San Diego at the age of 92, according to his wife, Sukanya, and his daughter Anoushka Shankar. Shankar's heath had been fragile for the last several years, and, according to a statement issued by his family, last week he underwent surgery meant to increase the quality of his life, but the procedure ultimately proved to be too much for the musician, and he ended up passing away.
Dubbed the "godfather of world music" by George Harrison of the Beatles, Shankar, whose music transcended cultural barriers, taught the guitarist how to play sitar, and the guitarist returned the favor by producing and playing on two albums, Shankar Family & Friends and Festival of India. While Shankar's collaboration with the Beatles was part of his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West, he also worked with classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin and minimalist composer Philip Glass, who collaborated on the 1990 album Passages. Shankar's music also had a deep impact on jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, who named his son Ravi after the sitarist.
During the '60s, Shankar performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh and Woodstock. A master of Indian music, Shankar, who is widely regarded for having done more for Indian music than any other musician, also wrote three concertos for sitar and orchestra and penned compositions for his sitar-violin collaborations with Menuhin, in addition to composing for ballets and Indian, Canadian, European and American films, including Gandhi and Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy.
Shankar is also the father of jazz and pop singer Norah Jones, whose mother is Sue Jones. "My dad's music touched millions of people," Jones told the Wall Street Journal. "He will be greatly missed by me and music lovers everywhere."