George Harrison’s personal sitar from 1965, which was the year the Beatles recorded Norwegian Wood will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on September 28, 2017. Harrison purchased his first sitar from the shop Indiacraft on Oxford Street in London in 1965. Harrison was quoted in the Beatles Anthologies, “…we’d recorded the Norwegian Wood backing track and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up – it was just lying around; I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it. It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked.”
Norwegian Wood was recorded in October 1965, but the sitar string broke during the recording session. Harrison had no idea how to fix or replace the string. Producer George Martin suggested to Harrison that he contact Ayana Angadi, the Asian Music Circle (AMC) co-founder.
Ayana Angadi replaced the string and brought his family to the studio at Abbey Road to watch the Beatles record Norwegian Wood.
The song launched “The Great Sitar Explosion” in rock and roll, but for Harrison, it began a life-long relationship with Indian music, its culture and Hinduism. The AMC provided Indian musicians for Harrison’s next two Indian-style songs, Love you to and Within you without you. Harrison became the first Beatle to visit India and traveled to Mumbai to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar following the band’s final live concert in San Francisco in 1966.
Harrison married Pattie Boyd in January 1966. On their honeymoon in Barbados, Boyd’s friend George Drummond hosted the couple. Harrison gifted this sitar to Drummond. Steve Turner writes in his book, Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year, “During the days Pattie sunbathed and George practiced on his sitar. George even had a better sitar flown to Barbados for him, and when it arrived he gave his old one – probably the one he had bought from Indiacraft – to Drummond as a gift.”
Kanai Lal & Brother of Calcutta crafted the siftar, which comes with letters of authenticity from Harrison’s ex-wife Pattie Boyd and his friend George Drummond. Boyd wrote in the LOA that Harrison used the sitar to play Norwegian Wood to her on their honeymoon. Drummond’s LOA confirmed that Harrison gave him this sitar in February 1966 and it remained in his possession until he consigned it to Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Bidding for the sitar begins at $50,000.