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Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar dies at 92

Ravi Shankar, composer, sitar player and worldwide music legend, has died surrounded by family near his home in southern California. He played at Woodstock, collaborated with the Beatles and fathered Norah Jones.

Ravi Shankar passed away in the presence of his family late on Tuesday in California aged 92. He had undergone successful surgery last Thursday, but was unable to recover from the operation. Shankar's family confirmed the news.

"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 part of our lives," his family said.

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Ravi Shankar, sitar legend

"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed way," Shankar's wife Sukanya and his daughter Anoushka said.

Shankar is as famed in the western hemisphere as in his native India, and is broadly credited with popularizing Indian music in the rest of the world - by virtue of his nimble fingers and the distinctive sound of the sitar.

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A three-time Grammy winner, Shankar played at the 1967 Monterey Festival and at Woodstock. He collaborated with violinist Yehudi Menhin and with the Beatles in the same era. He taught band member George Harrison, one of the more famous guitarists ever to have lived, to turn his hand to India's stringed equivalent.

Shankar has also fathered a Grammy winner, the eclectic vocalist Norah Jones who has been honored with jazz, pop and country music accolades during the last decade.

One of Shankar's first international awards was secured in Berlin at the 1957 Berlinale film festival, where he won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize for composing the score for the Bengali movie Kabuliwala.

His influence touched almost every corner of the music industry, including fellow legends in the business. Jazz saxophone master John Coltrane named his son Ravi Coltrane.

Shankar also served as an unelected member of the upper chamber of India's parliament.

msh/dr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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