Like many of the hippie generation, I became interested in Ravi Shankar and Indian classical music generally as a direct result of hearing George Harrison play the sitar on "Norwegian Wood" and "Within You Without You". It's fair to say that these songs changed my musical life.
Before long, I was an avid fan of the music, and specifically, of the tabla (the drums that accompany most classical Indian performers such as Ravi Shankar). Eventually, I found a tabla instructor in Toronto, and became a student of tabla, studying for several years with Ritesh Das, founder of The Toronto Tabla Ensemble. I even dedicated my first book to Zakir Hussain, the master tabla player whose father was the inestimable Alla Rakha, almost always the tabla player who accompanied Ravi Shankar.
One of the most memorable concerts I ever attended was in New York City, and featured several of the leading stars of Indian music -- Ravi Shankar (sitar), Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), Shivkumar Sharma (santoor), Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute) and Alla Rakha. As the years passed, I soon came to love the music of other players such as G.S. Sachdev (flute) and Swapan Chaduri (tabla).
Classical Indian music remains one of my greatest loves. I have a couple of hundred CDs and have attended close to that many concerts. I owe all of this to Pandit Ravi Shankar. He will be missed.