Ravi Shankar (April 17, 1920 – December 11, 2012). Indian sitar virtuoso and composer.
Since last Halloween, many outstanding musicians have shuffled off this mortal coil: centenarian American composer Elliott Carter, jazz composer Dave Brubeck, conduction innovator Butch Morris, Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, folk singer Richie Havens, Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Devo drummer Alan Myers, Tuvan throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar, The Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron, country singer George Jones, Zappa collaborators Ray Collins and George Duke, and most recently the velvety Lou Reed.
The subject of this year’s Memorial Jack-o-lantern is the Indian sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shakar, who died at age 92.
At 10 years old Ravi Shankar joined his older brother’s touring dance troupe but gave it up in 1937 to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the sitar. His compositions incorporated Western influences, gaining the attention of George Harrison, Philip Glass, and John Coltrane (who named his son Ravi after Mr. Shankar). He performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the charity Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Mr. Shankar gained many accolades throughout his life, including a lifetime achievement Grammy award. His daughters are also musicians: sitarist Anoushka Shankar and singer Norah Jones.
“If I’ve accomplished anything in these past 30 years,” Mr. Shankar said in 1985, “it’s that I have been able to open the door to our music in the West. I enjoy seeing other Indian musicians — old and young — coming to Europe and America and having some success. I’m happy to have contributed to that.”
Thanks for the music Ravi, and may it continue to expand our musical consciousness.
Photographed at Ali Akbar College Store, Berkeley, California.
Ravi Shankar performing on the Dick Cavett Show.