Three time Grammy Award winning Indian born sitar virtuoso and father of singerdied on December 11 in San Diego at the age of 92. He was surrounded by family members at the time of his death. No official cause of death has been listed, but Shankar has had upper respiratory difficulties and had a heart valve replacement recently.
“We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time. Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music,” said family members in a statement.
Shankar’s last public performance was on November 4 with his daughter, fellow sitar player Anoushka Shankar. Shankar’s latest album “The Living Room Sessions, Part 1” was nominated for a Grammy Award when the 2013 Grammy Award nominees were revealed on December 5.
Shankar is credited with being an influence of musical icons The Beatles - especially– the Byrds, and Phillip Glass; and he is the first Indian artist to be recognized in the western world.
He was born Robindra Shankar in what was known as Benares, Uttar Pradesh, British India but is now the Indian city of Varanasi on April 7, 1920. Shankar made his performance debut at the age of 10 dancing and singing as a part of his oldest brother Uay’s troupe introducing the world to Indian classical and folk music. Shankar went on to become a teacher and prolific composer – including compositions for Jean-Pierre Rampas,, Hosan Yamamoto, Musumi Miyashita, and the score for “Gandhi” - and recording artist. Believing that he got better as he got older, Shankar composed his first symphony when he was 90 years old.
Throughout his career Shankar played at Woodstock, Monterey International Pop Festival, and the Concer for Bangladesh; he has earned India’s highest civilian award the Bharat Ratna, the Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur from France, won the Swedish Polar Prize, an honourary British knighthood, and was appointed as a member of India’s upper House of Parliamnet the Rajya Sabha from 1986 to 1992. Shankar has worked with, , George Harrison, , Andre Previn, Zubin Mehta, and his children.
Shankar is survived by his wife of over 20 years Kukanya, daughters Norah Jones and Anoushka Wright, her husband, three grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Shankar is predeceased by his son Shubho.