Ananda Shankar, husband of the famous danseuse Tanushree Shankar, was an Indian Bengali musician best known for the fusion style of Western and Eastern musical styles. He was born on 11 December 1942 in Almora in Uttar Pradesh, India. Ananda Shankar was the son of Amala and Uday Shankar, the two popular dancers of their time. Ananda Shankar is also the nephew of renowned sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar. However, Ananda Shankar did not learn sitar from his uncle but instead studied with Dr. Lalmani Misra in Varanasi.
In the late 1960s, Ananda Shankar went to Los Angeles, where he played with many modern-day musicians including Jimi Hendrix. There he worked in collaboration with Reprise Records and released his first self-titled album in 1970. The record featured original Indian classical music alongside sitar-based cover versions of famous hits such as The Rolling Stones' Jumpin' Jack Flash and The Doors' Light My Fire. This album has become a long-term cult classic.
After returning to India in the early 1970s, Ananda Shankar continued to experiment musically and in 1975 released his most critically commended album, Ananda Shankar And His Music, a jazz-funk mix of Eastern sitar, Western rock guitar, tabla and mridangam, drums and Moog synthesizers. After the first slot of cassettes this record was not available in the market for a long time, Ananda Shankar And His Music was re-released on CD in 2005. He worked in India during the late 1970s and 1980s and his profile in the foreign countries began to rise again in the mid-1990s. Eventually, his music found its way into club DJ sets, especially in London. His music was introduced to a wider audience with the release of Blue Note Records' popular in the year1996 that was a unique groove compilation album, named Blue Juice Vol. 1. This record contained the two outstanding tracks from Ananda Shankar And His Music, "Dancing Drums" and "Streets Of Calcutta".
In the late 1990s, Ananda Shankar went for a tour in the United Kingdom with London DJ State of Bengal and others. This collaboration resulted in the Walking On album, featuring Shankar's trademark sitar tracks mixed with break beat and hip hop. Walking On record was released in 2000 after Ananda Shankar's sudden death from heart attack the year before. In 2005, his song Raghupati was played on the Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories soundtrack, and in 2008 his song Dancing Drums was used on the Little Big Planet soundtrack.
Ananda Shankar was an original musician of the word before the term 'world music' was invented. Trained in Indian classical music and later exposed to western trends, he mastered a typical sound - vibrant new age music that was capable of breaking barriers flanked by races, cultures and generations. Not cramped by the restraints of the ancient and the conventional music, Ananda Shankar was present decades ahead of its time. Ananda Shankar's creative efforts retain their freshness and appeal even today. He has given the world a repertoire of music that is still heard regularly over the radio, on television, at plays, on airlines, even at fashion shows and films. The sudden demise of this stalwart musician on 26th March 1999 left the world of music in great loss. He founded an institution of performing arts, called the Ananda Shankar Centre for Performing Arts (ASCPA) started in 1987, based in Kolkata. His records attain a special mark during the performances by the Centre of Performing Arts founded by him.
Discography of Ananda Shankar
|Ananda Shankar, 1970 (LP, Reprise 6398)
||Missing You, 1977 (EMI India)
||2001, 1984 (EMI India)
||Arpan, 2000 (EMI India)
|Ananda Shankar, 1970 (CD, Collectors' Choice CCM-545)
||A Musical Discovery of India, 1978 (EMI India)
||Ananda, 1999 (EMI India)
||Ananda Shankar: A Life in Music - The Best of the EMI Years, 2005 (Times Square TSQ-CD-9052)
|Ananda Shankar And His Music, 1975 (EMI India)
||Sa-Re-Ga Machan, 1981 (EMI India)
||Walking On, 2000 (Real World 48118-2, with State of Bengal)
||Ananda Shankar: Shubh- The Auspicious, 1995