Hundreds pay tribute to legendary Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar

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."

'LITTLE CRUMB'

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)