Ravi Shankar has died, a week after he underwent surgery in San Diego. The 92-year-old sitar virtuoso, who played at both Woodstock and the Monterey Jazz Festival, was described by Beatle George Harrison, whom he taught how to play the sitar, as “the godfather of world music.” As well as the Fab Four, Shankar also collaborated with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and saxophonist John Coltrane.
Born in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, he was originally a member of his brother’s dance troupe until, as an 18-year-old, he studied the sitar. Unimpressed by Jimi Hendrix’s guitar-burning antics– “That was too much for me. In our culture we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God.”– he was venerated and revered as a “national treasure” in his home country.