ENCINITAS, Calif., Dec 20 (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 Dec. 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 (40 km) 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."
His friendship with Harrison led him to appearances at the
Monterey and Woodstock pop festivals in the late 1960s and the
1972 Concert for Bangladesh. He became one of the first Indian
musicians to become a household name in the West.
His influence in classical music, including on composer
Philip Glass, was just as large. His work with Menuhin on their
"West Meets East" albums in the 1960s and 1970s earned them a
Grammy, and he wrote concertos for sitar and orchestra for both
the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
"I always felt like a little crumb in his presence," Zubin
Mehta, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic and
collaborator with Shankar, said at the service.
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock also attended the service along
with "Anna Karenina" director Joe Wright, the husband of
Shankar's daughter Anoushka.
Shankar, who had lived in Encinitas for the past 20 years,
had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the
past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last
week at a hospital in San Diego.
The surgery was successful but he was unable to recover.
Shankar's final concert was on Nov. 4 in Long Beach,
California, with his Grammy-winning sitarist daughter Anoushka,
who spoke giving thanks to those who came. Jones, the third
Grammy-winner in the family, did not speak at the service.
(Writing by Eric Kelsey; editing by Philip Barbara)