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Ravi Shankar, Beatles Influence, Dies at 92

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George Harrison was so influenced by the worldly sounds of sitar player Ravi Shankar that he began incorporating the sound into the Beatles music and later his own. Shankar passed away yesterday at 92, but his influence on the Beatles changed music forever.

Harrison began experimenting with the sitar on the Revolver album, most notably on “Norwegian Wood”, which Shankar guested on. In 1966 he began training with the virtuoso. It changed the sound of Beatles music forever as the band began to move into it’s psychedelic phase and the release of the Sgt Peppers Album.

The album was very experimental with George Martin’s “Wall of Sound”, and Harrison used the sitar on “Within You Without You” to give John Lennon’s vocal and almost haunting sound. As the Beatles music became more worldly, the sitar became a bigger part of Harrison’s repertoire. The Indian influence on the band was evident in every album thereafter and throughout Harrison’s solo career and was popularized on the song “Across the Universe”.

Shankar also joined Harrison on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, the first all-star fundraiser of it’s kind, which is said to have inspired the organizers of Live Aid in 1985. Shankar is also the father of pop singer Norah Jones. The two didn’t see each other much until Jones turned 18 and sought out a relationship with her estranged father. Another daughter, Anoushka. is also a very accomplished sitar player.

Shankar was called the “godfather of world music” by Harrison but he also worked with John Coltrane and David Crosby to bring the western sound to popular music. Bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones have also used the worldly sitar sound in mainstream rock.

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