Hundreds pay tribute to legendary Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar

Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:02pm EST
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By Roselle Chen

ENCINITAS, California (Reuters) - Ravi Shankar's daughters, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar, along with the wife of late Beatle George Harrison said their final goodbyes to the Indian sitar virtuoso on Thursday at a public memorial service in Encinitas, California.

The legendary musician and composer, who helped introduce the sitar to the Western world through his collaboration with The Beatles, died on December 11 in Southern California. He was 92.

About 700 people joined Shankar's wife, Sukanya, and family at the service held at a spiritual center in the coastal town about 25 miles north of San Diego.

Olivia Harrison, the widow of Beatles guitarist George Harrison, told Reuters the three-time Grammy winner who formed a musical and spiritual bond with The Beatle "expressed music at its deepest level."

"As a person he was just sweet and seemed to know everything," she added. "He was a true citizen of the world."

Shankar is credited with popularizing Indian music through his work with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and The Beatles beginning in the mid-1960s, inspiring George Harrison to learn the sitar and the British band to record songs like "Norwegian Wood" (1965) and "Within You, Without You" (1967).

"He completely transformed (George's) musical sensibilities," a tearful Harrison told the crowd. "They exchanged ideas and melodies until their hearts and minds were intertwined like a double helix."

'LITTLE CRUMB'   Continued...

Family members address the crowd during memorial services for sitar legend Ravi Shankar in Encinitas, California December 20, 2012. Shankar died December 11 at the age of 92. REUTERS/Sam Hodgson