Still in L.A., George Harrison dropped in on a recording session for tabla master Alla Rakha, a frequent Ravi Shankar accompanist. Until today I knew nothing of this man, but here’s what the internet has taught me:

  • “Allah Rakha began his career as an accompanist in Lahore and then as an All India Radio staffer in Bombay in 1940, playing the station’s first ever tabla solo and elevating the instrument’s position in the process. Soon after, he composed music for a couple of Hindi films from 1943–48.” (Wikipedia)
  • He played with Shankar at both Monterey Pop and Woodstock.
  • Legendary percussionist Zakir Hussein is his son.
  • Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead said: “Allah Rakha is the Einstein, the Picasso; he is the highest form of rhythmic development on this planet.”
  • His story ends this way: “Alla Rakha died on 3 February 2000 at his Simla House residence on Nepean Sea Road following a heart attack, which he suffered on learning of the death of his daughter, Razia, the previous evening.” Tragic, but poetic; not the worst way to go.
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