RIP Ravi Shankar Renown Virtuoso Sitarist

Not the post I was planning on writing this evening.

2012 has been a brutally tough year with the deaths of many legendary musicians.¬† Just last week we lost jazz pianist/composer Dave Brubeck and today(Dec. 11) the sad news of Ravi Shankar’s passing.

Ravi Shankar is an amazing musician known for many things, however, there are two highlights on his resume. First, he was a pioneer in introducing Indian sitar music to the Western world. Second, not totally detached from the first was his influence on the Beatles especially guitarist George Harrison. Trained in the Northern Indian tradition of Hindustani music the sitarist was a crossover¬† in the 1960’s Western pop culture. As mentioned he was an influence on the Beatles and also played the legendary Woodstock Festival. With his amazing talent and global appeal Shankar became an icon of Indian culture. The Indian Prime Minister said of Shankar on his passing, “National treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage”.

Shankar has two daughters who are also renown musicians. In the tradition of her father, Anoushka, concertizes throughout the world on the sitar and has pushed the sitar further into the Western realm with her collaborations. I was lucky enough to see the two play together at a San Diego concert near the turn of the millennium. Norah Jones, pop vocalist with a smooth voice inherited her fathers musical genes if not his cultural side.

Shankar died right here in San Diego. For those of you curious who are not from here, he actually passed in La Jolla which translates to the jewel. An amazingly beautiful city on the Pacific Ocean fitting of such an ambassadors final breaths.

George Harrison, My Favorite Beatle

Eleven years? I can’t believe it has been eleven years since George Harrison left us!

My apologies this post is out a day late to recognize the day of his passing, November 29, 2001.

I came relatively late to the Beatles party. Never really liked them as a kid, they were old and silly looking and I wanted to hear my Van Halen, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. It was not until I got out of high school that their commercialism was replaced in my mind by how incredible of musicians they truly are. One year my mom gave me Rubber Soul as a holiday gift and I was totally blown away!

George quickly became my favorite Beatle. Sure there’s the guitarist connection, but, his songs always struck me musically. There’s a grace and style about his tunes. He penned some of the greatest melodies of the Rock and Roll era. To this day I truly believe, as beloved as he is, George is an underrated guitarist

Some of my favorite Harrison tunes include, Here Comes the Sun, Something, Blue Jay Way, If I needed Someone and the epic While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

When recording my first CD, Reflections of San Diego, with the Slayen & Fox Guitar Duo, I even ‘borrowed’ one of his melodies. Well actually I infused the melody into one of my songs. Meaning it is relatively hidden but means something to me having it included. That said if anyone ever thinks they have found it let me know I would be VERY impressed!!

RIP George Harrison