Here’s what George Harrison did to make minority music heard
People like Ravi Shankar taught George Harrison a lot. The legendary sitar player opened George’s eyes to a whole new world of music, and it fascinated him. After their first revolutionary meeting, George made it his mission to support âminority musicâ. He used his influence on young people to spread awareness of different types of music, and the world welcomed him with open arms.
George Harrison met Ravi Shankar in 1966
In 1966, George met Shankar. At the time, he needed to recharge his batteries in his spirituality, as his fame was growing, so he traveled to India. At a friend’s house, George crossed paths with Shankar, almost as if it was fate.
Speaking to Rolling Stone about his longtime friendship with George in 1997, Shankar said, âI had heard of The Beatles, but I didn’t know how popular they were. I met all four of them, but with George I clicked right away. He said he wanted to learn [sitar] correctly. I said it wasn’t just about learning chords, like the guitar. Sitar takes at least a year to [learn to] sit properly because the instrument is so hard to hold. Then you cut your fingers at this point [shows tips of two fingers â purple, with calluses]. He said he would try. He looked so sweet and sincere that I believed him.
George proved Shankar that he wanted to learn. “[Harrison] gives me immense respect, âShankar continued. âHe’s very Indian that way. We’re such good friends, and at the same time he’s like my son, so it’s a nice mixed feeling.
At Martin Scorsese Living in the material world, George says Shankar taught him to find his roots. It was a great experience learning Indian music, but Geoge knew he would never be as good a sitar player as Ravi.
RELATED: George Harrison’s Son Dhani Harrison Is Close To The Other Beatles Children
George Harrison showed the world Indian music
George wasn’t going to be a sitar player, but he at least wanted to get the word out about it. As a “Krishna closet” he wanted to make a scrapbook for Radha Krishna temple.
On the back of the album it was written: âYour transcendent invitation: this album, with images and full text, produced by George Harrison, is a first recording of pure devotional songs in the ancient SANSKRIT spiritual language. The vibrations of these mantras reveal to the receptive listener and the cantor the realm of KRSNA consciousness, joyfully experienced as self-peace and awareness of GOD or KRSNA. These eternal sounds of love free the listener from all contemporary barriers of time and space.
No one thought the album would be popular, but âHare Krishna Mantraâ made it onto radio stations in London and peaked at No.12 on the UK charts in 1969. It was performed at the Island concert. de Wight and during a football match. in Manchester, England.
Beyond the success of the mantra album, George worked with Shankar on many projects including Songs of India. George also hosted one of the first and most popular celebrity benefit concerts, the Concert for Bangladesh, which was hugely popular. George and his friends played rock tunes while Shankar and other Indian musicians played their music. The live album won a Grammy.
RELATED: Did George Harrison Push His Son Dhani To Play Music When He Was Young?
George was one of the first Western artists to recognize the importance of world music
In Living in the material world, personal video footage shows George asking house guests, “Why is minority music important?” All the music that isn’t actually sold in your local record store, in the top hundred. There are all these wonderful things.
In the New York Times, Philip Glass wrote: âGeorge was among the first Western musicians to recognize the importance of millennial musical traditions, which themselves had their roots in indigenous music, both popular and classical. Using his considerable influence and popularity, he was one of the few to push the door that until then had separated music from much of the world in the West.
âHe played a major role in bringing several generations of young musicians out of the parched and dying desert of Eurocentric music into a new world. I have no doubt that this part of his legacy will be the most lasting. And not just that. He opened the doors to this new world of music with deep conviction, great energy and his own remarkable clarity and simplicity. “
His music and his skills in opening doors to world music define George’s legacy. In return for many happy years of friendship, Shankar was present during George’s farewell to his death in 2001.