Mr. Shankar’s popularity in the West was boosted by his partnerships with foreign musicians, most famously Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
“When people say that George Harrison made me famous, that is true in a way,” Mr. Shankar said in a televised interview in 2009, according to this report.
But when Mr. Harrison first approached Mr. Shankar for lessons in the mid-1960s, the idea of blending Indian classical music with pop music was puzzling to the sitar maestro.
“It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars. I was confused at first. It had so little to do with our classical music. When George Harrison came to me, I didn’t know what to think,” said Mr. Shankar in Raga.
“But I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene,” he added.
Mr. Harrison revered Mr. Shankar, saying he was “the first person who ever impressed me in my life.”
Mr. Harrison’s collaboration with Mr. Shankar influenced the music of the Beatles, who went on to release several Indian-inspired songs. Among them was the 1966 track “Love You To,” one of the earliest examples of a pop song incorporating elements of Indian classical music. The song was composed by Mr. Harrison, who also sings and plays the sitar in it.