George Harrison made Ravi Shankar famous

There’s no true blue Beatles fan who will not fondly remember Pandit Ravi Shankar who passed away early this morning, and say a silent thank you.

The Beatles’ George Harrison met Ravi Shankar in 1966, a meeting which resulted in Harrison’s visit to India to learn how to play sitar.

The sitar first made an appearance in the wonderfully lilting Norwegian Wood from the album Rubber Soul in 1965, before Harrison met Ravi Shankar.

George Harrison and Pandit Ravi Shankar. AFP

If that song gave Beatles fans a taste of the magic of the sitar, Love you to, from the album Revolver (which was produced post Harrison’s meeting and coaching sessions with Ravi Shankar), sees the sitar dominate a Beatles song for the first time.

The love affair with the sitar seems to be more a George Harrison passion than an all-Beatle one, as it’s in Harrison tracks that the songs rely heavily on Ravi Shankar’s instrument, though the sitar makes appearances on three Beatles albums: Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Listen to this, where the sitar is omnipresent in Tomorrow Never Knows, also from Revolver, with Harrison’s vocals.

What did Ravi Shankar think of The Beatles? “When people say that George Harrison made me famous, that is true in a way,” said Ravi Shankar in a 2009 interview.

So today, as news comes in about Ravi Shankar’s death, I’ll listen to The Beatles and mourn Shankar’s passing.

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