Sitar virtuoso. Spiritual guide. Political leader. Humanitarian. Cultural icon. There is no shortage of ways to describe influential Indian musician Ravi Shankar.

Shankar’s musical diplomacy helped bring Eastern music and cultural ideology to mainstream Western culture, mentoring high-profile artists like George Harrison of The Beatles. Shankar’s influence led to Indian instruments and musical styles permeating popular music throughout the 1960s as he toured the U.S. and Europe with his own various live projects. Today, on what would have been Ravi Shankar’s 101st birthday, we honor his musical legacy with a look back at one of his most famous performances.

In June of 1967, Shankar made his way to Monterey, CA for the Monterey Pop Festival for his first major American performance. To this day, the landmark three-day event remains one of the most famous popular music concerts of all time, and also showcased the first major U.S. performances by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who, the first large-scale concert for Janis Joplin, and the debut of a young soul singer by the name of Otis Redding.

Despite the abundance of incredible performances at the festival which would go on to shape a generation of fans, Shankar’s set remains one of the most memorable. Accompanied by his tabla player Alla Rakha, Shankar delivered an entrancing performance, showcasing his unparalleled technical skill and unique sound. The set was released in November 1967 as a live album, Live: Ravi Shankar at the Monterey International Pop Festival, which went on to be the best-selling record of his long career.

Watch video of Shankar’s performance at Monterey Pop below, featuring some incredible crowd footage from the iconic event:

Ravi Shankar – Monterey Pop Festival – Monterey, CA – 6/18/1967

[Video: Afwan Floyd]

[Originally published 4/7/21]