Ravi Shankar · Hare Krishna

by Chris Murray on December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar, 1971. Copyright © Barrie Wentzell. All Rights Reserved.

One of the greatest classical musicians of all time passed on yesterday. A master sitar player, composer, teacher, and global ambassador, Ravi Shankar did more to inspire interest in Indian culture in our time than anyone. He single handedly popularized what is now called “world music”. He introduced classical Indian music to a mesmerized American audience at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. His performances and recordings influenced the Beatles, John Coltrane, Donovan, Dizzy Gillespie, Brian Jones and The Rolling Stones, and numerous other musical artists.

Ravi Shankar was a dear most friend and guru to George Harrison. Ravi joined Harrison on tour in 1974, opening for Harrison’s Dark Horse tour with an extraordinary group of many of the best Indian musicians in the world. I saw that tour on it’s stop at the Capital Center in Washington on December 13th, 1974, and it was a once in a lifetime experience. I first saw Ravi Shankar perform in 1971 in Val Morin, Cananda, with Ali Akbar Khan, the master of the sarod, at a benefit concert for the Sivananda Yoga Center. Twenty-five years later I met Ravi and his beautiful daughter and protege Anoushka backstage after a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1997 during the time of the publication of his autobiography Raga Mala (Genesis Publications), which was edited by George Harrison and distributed by Govinda Gallery. Meeting Ravi is a memory I will always cherish. His easygoing warmth and humor complimented his spiritual persona. Hari Om Tat Sat.

Ravi Shankar in Vrindavan, India, 1974, with George Harrison, Sripad Maharaj, and friends on the banks of the Yamuna river. From Raga Mala, the autobiography of Ravi Shankar. Copyright © Govinda Gallery Archive. All Rights Reserved.

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