Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies at La Jolla hospital

SAN DIEGO - Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and longtime Encinitas resident who played an influential role for The Beatles, died in San Diego on Tuesday, his family announced. He was 92.

Shankar, the father of five-time Grammy winning singer Norah Jones, died at 4:30 p.m., according to a statement on his website.

Shankar underwent heart valve replacement surgery last week, Stuart Wolferman, a publicist for his record label, Unfinished Side Productions, told the Los Angeles Times.

Shankar taught Beatle guitarist George Harrison how to play the sitar in the 1960s, and Harrison used it for "Within You Without You" on the 1967 album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Shankar's collaboration with Harrison led to the first big rock music benefit, the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. It was actually two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City, featuring Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Shankar, that raised funds for war refugees.

Harrison produced and participated in two albums with Shankar, "Shankar Family & Friends" and "Festival of India."

Harrison, who died in 2001, called Shankar "the godfather of world music."

Shankar also performed at two of rock music's most famous concerts -- Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival.

Shankar also authored violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal and collaborated with composer Phillip Glass.

Shankar also composed for movies and ballets.

"His genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of Mozart's," Menuhin, who died in 1999, once said.

Shankar trained his other daughter, Anoushka Shankar, on the sitar and she has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

Shankar was a lecturer at UC San Diego. He gave his final concert Nov. 4 at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach.

In addition to his daughters, Shankar is survived by his wife, Sukanya, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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