An Indian stringed instrument owned and played by George Harrison on one of the Beatles’ best-known tracks has sold for almost £50,000.
The sitar, which featured in the arrangement for ‘Norwegian Wood’, sold for £46,706 at an auction is Los Angeles – 52 years after the band recorded the song in 1965.
Harrison purchased the sitar from a shop on Oxford Street in London.
An Indian stringed instrument owned and played by George Harrison on one of the Beatles’ best-known tracks has sold for almost £50,000. Pictured: George receiving instruction in playing the sitar from a Sikh teacher
In the Beatles Anthologies, he said: ‘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, and has noted to kick-start the ‘Great Sitar Explosion’ in rock and roll.
George became the first Beatle to visit India and travelled to Mumbai to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar (pictured with the Beatle) in 1966 following the band’s final live concert in San Francisco
However, this lead to Harrison generating his lifelong passion for Indian music and learning the sitar and growing his interest Hinduism and Indian culture, all occurring after the string broke on his personal instrument while recording.
He became the first Beatle to visit India and travelled to Mumbai to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar in 1966 following the band’s final live concert in San Francisco.
Over the next several months Harrison continued to play the sitar and decided to exchange his older-style ‘crummy-quality one’ with a more sophisticated style designed to play better into microphones.
It was a lifelong passion for the star, since his marriage to first wife Pattie Boyd in January 1966.
Norwegian Wood was recorded in October 1965, and has noted to kick-start the ‘Great Sitar Explosion’ in rock and roll. Pictured: The Beatles in 1964
Harrison reportedly gave the sitar to Miss Boyd’s friend George Drummond who hosted them in Barbados for the wedding, while getting a better sitar flown to the island for him.
The sitar is accompanied by two letters of authenticity, one from Boyd and one from George Drummond.
His ex-wife confirms the authenticity of the sitar and wrote: wrote: ‘Before we left Barbados, George Harrison gifted the Sitar to George de Vere Drummond.’
Drummond’s Letter of Authorisation confirming that Harrison gave him this sitar in February 1966 said that it’s ‘remained in my possession until I consigned it to Nate D. Sanders Auctions.’
The sitar’s authenticity has been clarified in the letters that it was crafted by Kanai Lal & Brother of Calcutta, and was approximately 10 years old – made in the late 1940s or 1950s – when Harrison played it.