Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar, the father of Grammy winner Norah Jones and the man George Harrison called "the godfather of world music," has died. He was 92.
"It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today, December 11th, 2012," his family said in a statement on his website. "His health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away."
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Born in 1920, Shankar began touring Europe and India at an early age with his brother's dance group. He later gave up dancing and began studying sitar, a plucked stringed instrument used mainly in Indian classical music. He began composing, created the music for a trilogy of Bengali films that were released between 1955 and 1959. He was also the music director of All India Radio in New Delhi.
Harrison met Shankar in London in 1966, and later studied sitar under Shankar in India for six weeks. Shankar performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and on opening day at Woodstock. Some of the biggest bands of the '60s incorporated Shankar's sound, including The Beatles, whose Grammy-winning album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band included the Indian-inspired song "Within You Without You." In 1971, Harrison and Shankar organized two benefit concerts for Bangladesh that included performances by Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. In 1973, Harrison and Shankar continued their collaboration by recording an album together.
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Shankar continued to perform and compose and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score for his work on the 1982 movie Gandhi. He also wrote two autobiographies. His final concert was on Nov. 4 in Long Beach, Calif.
"We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time," the family said in its statement. "Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music."
Shankar is survived by son Shubhendra Shankar from his first marriage; Jones, from his relationship with producer Sue Jones; and Anoushka, from his relationship with Sukanya Rajan. He also had three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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