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Beatles Collaborator Ravi Shankar Dead at 92

Ravi Shankar-George Harrison
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The music world is mourning the death of Ravi Shankar, the musician best known for bringing Indian sitar music to the masses and introducing it to the Beatles. Shankar passed away Tuesday night (Dec. 11) in San Diego at the age of 92.

Shankar had been in the hospital over the last week after complaining of breathing difficulties following his recent heart valve surgery. The musician’s website reported the death, stating: “With profound grief and sorrow, we mourn the passing of Pandit Ravi Shankar on Dec. 11, 2012. He died in San Diego at 4:30 pm Pacific time. He was 92.”

The Shankar Family also released their own statement which read:

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.
As you all know, 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.
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. 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.

Sukanya & Anoushka Shankar

The musician was born in India, but moved to Paris at the age of 10 to tour with his brother’s dance troupe. It was during this time that he began to learn Indian classical instruments and eventually he moved back to India at age 13 to begin studying sitar with Allaudin Khan.

Shankar’s music began to translate to a broader audience in the ’50s when he helped to score the ‘Apu’ trilogy on the big screen. From there he worked with the Byrds, who eventually introduced him to George Harrison and his connection with the Beatles definitely influenced the sounds created during the latter portion of their career. His influence can be felt on such tracks as ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’and ‘Within You Without You.’

His friendship with Harrison continued beyond the Beatles and Shankar’s performance at the all-star Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 is considered one of the concert highlights of his career. In his later years, Shankar continued with music and shared in the Oscar win for Best Original Score for the film ‘Gandhi.’

Shankar also sired two musical children as well, as singer-songwriter Norah Jones and Grammy-nominated sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar followed in their father’s footsteps. He also is the father of Shubhendra Shankar.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2012

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