Ravi Shankar, Sitar Master and Beatles Influence, Dies at 92

VIDEO: Indian sitar virtuoso is credited with connecting the Western world with traditional Indian music.

(Image Credit: Kaushik Roy/India Today Group/Getty Images)

Ravi Shankar, the sitar master who influenced The Beatles and introduced classical Indian music to Western audiences, died Tuesday. He was 92.

A statement on Shankar's website said he died in San Diego, near his Southern California home with his wife and a daughter by his side. The musician's foundation issued a statement saying that he had suffered upper respiratory and heart problems and had undergone heart-valve replacement surgery last week.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also confirmed Shankar's death and called him a "national treasure."

Shankar was dubbed the "godfather of world music" by the late Beatle George Harrison, who collaborated with Shankar for the legendary 1971 benefit Concert For Bangladesh. Their relationship shot Shankar to international fame in the 1960s and '70s.

Shankar collaborated with other musicians as well, including the jazz giant John Coltrane, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and David Crosby. He popularized Indian melodies that made their way into the music of many Western artists, from Philip Glass to The Rolling Stones.

To later generations, Shankar was known as the estranged father of pop singer Norah Jones. He fathered Jones with New York promoter Sue Jones in 1979. Although he didn't see Norah for a decade, the two connected after she turned 18.

Shankar won three Grammys. In a statement today, the Recording Academy called him a "true pioneer" and said, "We have lost an innovative and exceptional talent and a true ambassador of international music."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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