The article below was in today's NY Times:
Remembering George Harrison: Full of Love and Fun
December 9, 2001
By RAVI SHANKAR
ENCINITAS, Calif. -- I feel I have been cheated by George.
Why did he have to go so soon at such a young age when I
really wanted to go first?
In moments like this, it is so hard to express the feeling
of emptiness and sadness within. Like a film flashing by,
everything comes to my mind since I met him more than 30
years ago. His childlike quality, his shy but naughty
little smile, his passion for all the music he loved and
the serious quest for religion, particularly the old Vedic
Hindu tradition, always amazed me as well as attracted me.
The down-to-earth quality in George was something I could
relate to with such joy. He would crack up when I told him
all my jokes; we had such fun! We always competed with each
other in punning. When I told him that I was known as a
"pundit" because of my punning, he said something
hilarious, connecting the old Hindu scriptures of the four
Vedas (Rigveda, Samveda, Atharvaveda and Yajurveda). He
said: "Do you know the four Wether brothers? They are Ric,
Sam, Arthur and George Wethers."
The only solid lessons on sitar he had from me were in the
summer and autumn of 1966, which he couldn't pursue as much
as we both wanted. He was very talented and would have
become a great sitar player if only he could have given
some time. His love, knowledge and understanding of Indian
music developed immensely over the years. I gave him a copy
of the book "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Swami Yogananda,
and my brother, Rajendra, gave him a book by Swami
Vivekananda. He had such thirst for the knowledge and
wisdom of Indian traditions. In many ways he was more
Indian than many Indians.
Though I had been performing all over the world since 1954,
my association with George attracted a whole young
generation to sitar and to me from the mid- 1960's. Even
though I didn't make any records jamming with him or any
other pop or rock star, I was treated like a superstar,
being the Beatle George's guru. Then came Monterey,
Woodstock and finally the big Bangladesh concert, which he
totally handled in producing. Because of George we had Bob
Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell and other eminent
After a year or so, when he spent time with me in Varanasi
at my house, he suggested we make a couple of records and
perhaps tour the United States. We did the first recording
in the A&M Studios for his Dark Horse label. It was then
that he met dear Olivia (whom he married in 1978). In the
summer of 1974 the second album was recorded ("Festival of
India") at his own studio. I'll never forget those couple
of months when we worked on this album. I did all the
compositions on the M4 while traveling from London to his
home in Henley. George created such an atmosphere with such
love and regard. We would start rehearsals in a beautiful
large hall with a view to his lovely garden. We would have
Indian food and snack between rehearsals.
The recording was finished with simultaneous editing, which
George was doing himself, always asking me to hear when he
was satisfied. After this period of creative joy we went to
tour the United States, giving more than 30 performances.
George had a special 737 Boeing jetliner completely
refurbished for us to travel in.
What touched me so much was his worry about my health and
well being. He would tell me always not to travel and exert
myself so much. Then from the role of disciple and friend
he became more of a son to me, especially after my own son
Shubho died in 1992. He would fly and be with me whenever I
was in the hospital or not well with my heart problems. His
love and concern touched me deeply.
I'll never forget how much love, care and time he gave to
another project he did for me while staying in our house
here in Encinitas. He went through all the details, right
from choosing all the artwork, to writing the notes, to
producing the four-CD boxed set "In Celebration,"
selections from my 40 years of sitar performances and
compositions. The last wonderful musical experience I had
with him was when we made the CD "Chants of India." We did
some songs in Madras and the major part at his own studio
in his mansion at Henley. His nearness and attention in
producing the record always inspired me so. Even the
complex compositions came out of me so spontaneously.
Another one of many funny incidents was when George, Olivia
and their son, Dhani, came to India in 1995 and spent a few
weeks. We went to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. In Bombay,
Delhi and Calcutta people recognized George and created a
stampede, which George hated. But we had no such problem in
Rajasthan and he enjoyed it so much. On our last stop,
Udaipur, while we were walking in the busy main streets
shopping - ornaments of silver, colourful materials,
dresses, turbans, having tea and snacks - all of a sudden
there was a big crowd which surrounded us. I was terrified
thinking they had recognized George, but it was actually me
they were after. Then the funniest thing happened. George,
realizing the situation, immediately became my bodyguard.
"Move, move. No, no. Don't bother Panditji." And cordoning
me with both his hands, he brought me to our waiting car
and saved me from those autograph hunters. The others were
already seated, and when the car started, we burst out
My daughter Anoushka and my wife, Sukanya, also were so
attached to him. He had a beautiful and loving wife in
Olivia and a wonderful son in Dhani. He had a magnanimous
heart and always cared so much. He was a fearless and
beautiful soul always conscious of God. I loved him dearly.
Though he is gone physically, he will always be alive and
vibrant in my heart.
Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso, is completing his
last full-scale concert tour.
Rooftop Sessions - The Finest In Beatles-Related Fiction. December 2001 Issue up now! Check out our George Harrison Tribute Pages!www.rooftopsessions.com
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