Renown Indian Sitar maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar plays during the 'Premaanjali Festival 2012' a musical concert held at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore on February 7, 2012. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)
(CNN) -- His music transcended trends and cultural
barriers. Pandit Ravi Shankar's life, which traversed nearly a century,
The legendary sitar player, who taught Beatle George Harrison how to play the stringed instrument and
brought Indian music to the West, passed away at age 92 in the early
evening in San Diego, near his home, according to his wife, Sukanya, and
daughter Anoushka Shankar, who were by his side.
Shankar was the father of
jazz singer Norah Jones as well. He is also survived by three
grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, according to his record
label, East Meets West Music.
His health had suffered
over the past year, according to a statement from his record label, and
he underwent heart valve replacement surgery last Thursday.
the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his
body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery," his wife and
In the 1960s, he took
Eastern music mainstream in the West. He lent ethereal, spiritual sounds
to the Fab Four through his friendship with Harrison, who recorded them
on the "Sgt. Pepper's" album in the song "Within You Without You."
Virtuoso performances at
Monterey in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969 helped cement Shankar's place in
Western musical history as an ambassador of Eastern wisdom to a
generation looking for new values.
"Ravi was a great loss
musically, spiritually and physically. God bless to Ravi's family. Peace
& Love," Beatle Ringo Starr said in a statement released through a
Singer Peter Gabriel
hailed Shankar as an inspiration who "opened the door to non-western
music for millions of people around the world."
"He was very serious
about his music, and I remember at one WOMAD performance, he stopped the
music to ask his audience not to point their feet at him as that was
seen as offensive in India," Gabriel said in a statement. "He was also
warm, witty and mischievous as a man. He will be badly missed."
Even actress Pamela Anderson weighed in tweeting one of Shankar's music videos.
In Bangladesh's bloody
war of separation from Pakistan in 1971, Shankar and Harrison launched
what UNICEF calls the first massive fund-raising pop event, The Concert
for Bangladesh, to generate donations for the flood of refugees pouring
Later, from 1986 to
1992, Shankar put his politics into practice as a member of India's
upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, or state assembly, serving
with India's current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"It was difficult,
often, to judge what was more remarkable -- the man or his music," Singh
said of Shankar on Wednesday. He praised him as one of India's "most
effective cultural ambassadors."
Both houses of parliament observed a moment of silence in his honor.
Shankar's musical career
had a long life before and after the '60s. He was born on April 7,
1920, and when he and Harrison met, he was already 46 and famous in
India as a classical musician, according to his record label biography.
His classical career
outlived his counterculture fame, but he continued to meld East with
West and composed concertos, which harmonized his sitar with orchestras.
He played duos with American classical violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin
and composed with American minimalist Philip Glass. He also wrote film
music for the Hollywood movie "Gandhi."
Shankar kept homes in the United States and India.
Despite ill health, he shared a stage with his daughter Anoushka, also a sitar virtuoso, in early November.
It was his last public performance.
CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh and Denise Quan contributed to this report.