Friday 19 April 2024


Nate D. Sanders Auctions is set to offer George Harrison’s Sitar on April 25.
In 1965, George Harrison purchased his first sitar from the renowned shop, Indiacraft, on Oxford Street in London. 

This seemingly unassuming instrument would ignite a revolution. During the recording sessions for "Norwegian Wood", the Beatles’ creative process took an unexpected turn. 

George Harrison, exploring the studio’s cupboards for a novel sound, picked up the sitar. Spontaneously, he found the notes that would weave seamlessly into the song’s fabric. The sitar’s distinctive timbre added an otherworldly dimension to the track.


However, fate intervened—the sitar string snapped during the recording. Harrison, perplexed by the technical challenge, turned to producer George Martin for guidance. Martin’s suggestion led him to Ayana Angadi, co-founder of the Asian Music Circle (AMC). Angadi expertly replaced the string and brought her family to Abbey Road Studios to witness the Beatles’ historic recording.

"Norwegian Wood" marked the beginning of what music historians would later call "The Great Sitar Explosion." For Harrison, it was more than a musical experiment; it ignited a lifelong passion for Indian music, culture, and Hindu spirituality. The AMC continued to collaborate with Harrison, providing Indian musicians for his subsequent Indian-style compositions, including "Love You To" and "Within You Without You".














In 1966, Harrison became the first Beatle to journey to India. His pilgrimage led him to Mumbai, where he studied the sitar under the tutelage of the legendary Ravi Shankar. The sitar became Harrison’s conduit to a deeper understanding of Eastern melodies and philosophy.

During his honeymoon in Barbados with Pattie Boyd in January 1966, Harrison’s friend George Drummond hosted the couple. It was there that Harrison bestowed this very sitar upon Drummond—a heartfelt gesture that transcended mere material exchange. Steve Turner’s book, Beatles '66: The Revolutionary Year, recounts those sun-drenched days when Pattie sunbathed, and George practiced on his sitar. 















The sitar is accompanied by two letters of authenticity, one from Pattie Boyd and one from George Drummond. Pattie not only confirms the authenticity of the sitar, but writes that George used it to play ''Norwegian Wood'' to her on their honeymoon. She writes, ''Before we left Barbados, George Harrison gifted the Sitar to George de Vere Drummond.'' Drummond's LOA likewise confirms that Harrison gave him this sitar in February 1966 and that it's ''remained in my possession until I consigned it to Nate D. Sanders Auctions.''

Later, Harrison arranged for an even finer sitar to be flown to Barbados, leaving his original instrument—a likely sibling to the one from Indiacraft—in Drummond’s care.


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