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Ravi Shankar

Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury was born in Varanasi, India in 1920.  At the age of 10 he went to Paris to travel with his choreographer brother's dance troop.  By age 13 he was performing with them on various instruments and dancing.  With deteriorating conditions in Europe leading up to World War 2, Ravi left Europe and began a musical apprenticeship, concentrating on sitar.  By 1956 he was touring internationally and had garnered the attention of classical luminary Yehudi Menuhin with whom he later cut an album 'East Meets West'.

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Ravi was working on material at World Pacific Records when the Byrds heard his music and started to incorporate it into their sound.  They introduced the genre to a friend, George Harrison, who bought a sitar and used it on 'Norwegian Wood' and thus Raga Rock was born. 


By 1967, Ravi had become the most famous Indian musician on the planet, played the Monterey Pop Festival and won a Grammy award for best chamber music performance. He was just getting warmed up.  He played Woodstock, the Concert for Banglasdesh, founded a music school in Los Angeles.  Over 90 years old Ravi is still out there playing and recording.

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  • Kevin Gallagher After George Harrison started using a sitar, EVERYBODY started using them. And after that, Ravi Shankar became world famous and in demand. That absolutely would never have happened if it weren't for George.
  • Kate Simpson Kevin, Ravi was already world famous when he met and became friends with George.. George may have brought him to the younger generation but with it came the association of it being stoner music.. The sitar is an extremely old instrument. Ravi Shankar began study of it in 1938 and by 1956 was touring the world.. He is revered worldwide and a wonderful composer. He also has a couple of daughters that are doing pretty well, Nora Jones and Anoushka Shankar…He didn't need George Harrison for the fame he had it.. It's just that George took it out of the Classical realm and made it popular with us hippies... Peace
  • Kevin Gallagher Of course that is true. We got a preview when we saw the Indian music influence in the movie "Help!". What I was referring to was fame in the realm of current, contemporary music of the time. Prior to that, it would have simply been seen as "world music". Of course, Shankar already was famous in that realm, or George wouldn't have noticed him.
  • Kevin Gallagher Those things look complicated. I don't know how you would even tune them. ;-)