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Anna Joshi

Last updated on January 13, 2024

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Anna Joshi was a member of the Asian Music Circle, a collective based in Finchley, North London. The group aimed to promote Indian and other Asian styles of music, dance and culture in the West.

Anna Joshi played the dilruba – a bowed musical instrument – on George Harrison’s “Within You Without You,” which was recorded for the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album in 1967. Despite Anna’s contribution, his identity remained unknown until Dr. Mike Jones from the University of Liverpool conducted research in 2017 to reveal the identities of the Indian players on “Within You Without You.

Two of the surviving Indian musicians from the original Sgt. Pepper recording […] were tracked down by Dr Mike Jones. [Musicians on Within You Without You] are the late Anna Joshi and Amrit Gajjar (dilruba); and Sikh temple musician Buddhadev Kansara (tamboura) and Natwar Soni (tabla) […]

On researching the influence of Indian music on George Harrison and The Beatles, Dr Mike Jones from University of Liverpool’s Department of Music said: “My colleague and collaborator John Ball and I were approached by Utkarsha Joshi, son of the late Anna Joshi, who played dilruba for George Harrison on the Within You, Without You recording session for Sgt. Pepper at Abbey Road Studios in 1967. We discussed that the four Indian musicians who played on George Harrison’s track, including his father, have been regarded as ‘unknown musicians’ for 50 years.” […]

From University of Liverpool, June 6, 2017

From Wikipedia:

The Asian Music Circle (sometimes abbreviated to AMC) was an organisation founded in London, England, in 1946, that promoted Indian and other Asian styles of music, dance and culture in the West. The AMC is credited with having facilitated the assimilation of the Indian subcontinent’s artistic traditions into mainstream British culture. Founded by Indian writer and former political activist Ayana Angadi and his English wife, Patricia Fell-Clarke, a painter and later a novelist, the organisation was run from their family home in the north London suburb of Finchley.

In the 1950s, with Yehudi Menuhin as its president, the AMC organised the first Western performances by Indian classical musicians Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, as well as Vilayat Khan’s debut concerts in Britain. During the following decade, the Angadis introduced George Harrison of the Beatles to Shankar, initiating an association that saw Indian music reach its peak in international popularity over 1966–68. The Music Circle had its own London-based musicians, some of whom played on Harrison’s Indian-style compositions for the Beatles, including “Within You Without You” from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The AMC is recognised as having introduced yoga into Britain, through the Angadis’ hosting of classes by visiting guru B.K.S. Iyengar. The organisation had ceased operation by 1970, when Ayana and Patricia Angadi separated. […]

Association with the Beatles

In October 1965, Martin was producing a session for the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood”, which featured George Harrison playing sitar, an instrument that the guitarist had never before used on a recording. When Harrison broke a string during the session, Martin suggested that the band contact Angadi to get a replacement. Ringo Starr then telephoned the Fitzalan Road house and made the request. According to the Angadis’ eldest son, Shankara, the whole family delivered the new string to EMI’s Abbey Road Studios and watched the recording being made.

Keen to progress on the instrument, Harrison received tuition from one of the Music Circle’s sitar players. Harrison then became a regular visitor to Fitzalan Road, attending recitals held there with his wife, Pattie Boyd. Harrison and Boyd also had their portrait painted by Patricia during this time. The proximity to the Angadis and their network furthered Harrison’s interest in Indian music and culture, which he immediately absorbed into the Beatles’ work.

When recording his first Indian-styled composition for the Beatles, “Love You To“, in April 1966, Harrison used a tabla player, Anil Bhagwat, at the recommendation of Patricia Angadi. Other AMC musicians appeared on the recording, playing tambura and sitar. Bhagwat, who was funding his university education through his musical activities, received £35 for the session and later described it as “one of the most exciting times of my life”. In the pop milieu, the song marked the first example of an artist capturing a non-Western musical form authentically, in its structure and arrangement, and of Asian music being adapted without parody. Bhagwat received a credit on the band’s Revolver album sleeve, a rare acknowledgement for an outside musician on a Beatles release.

Shankar and George Harrison

While also crediting the AMC with introducing Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and other leading Indian classical musicians to British audiences, Massey writes of Ayana Angadi having a “seminal” influence on Western culture, due to his role in introducing George Harrison to Ravi Shankar. The meeting occurred on 1 June 1966 when the Angadi family hosted a dinner to honour Shankar, who was in the UK for a series of performances that would include his historic duet with Menuhin at the Bath Musical Festival. Although not invited, Paul McCartney also attended the dinner, since he was eager to meet the sitarist. Shankar agreed to accept Harrison as his sitar student, so beginning an association that, music critic Ken Hunt writes, “brought Indian music real global attention”.

Harrison’s friendship with the sitarist – already the best-known Indian classical musician internationally – increased Shankar’s standing to that of a rock star and initiated Indian music’s peak in popularity in the West, during the second half of the 1960s. The meeting at Fitzalan Road is covered in Ajoy Bose’s 2021 documentary The Beatles and India, in which Shankara Angadi describes McCartney as seeming out of his depth, but not Harrison, who Boyd says must have known Shankar “in a past life”. In his review of the film for Uncut, Pete Paphides terms this initial meeting at the AMC a “momentous encounter”, given the cultural impact of the Beatles’ association with India.

The Asian Music Circle’s cause also profited from Harrison’s involvement and the heightened interest in Indian culture during this period. His visits to Fitzalan Road ended in late 1966, however. Speaking to Newman, Shankara recalled: “My father was a difficult character, in some ways. He was chaotic, and never really pulled anything off he set out to do. He probably asked George for money, and that was the end of that relationship.”

Further Indian music recordings by Harrison

In March 1967, Harrison again consulted the Music Circle to find suitable musicians for one of his recordings. The song, “Within You Without You“, features AMC members on instruments such as dilruba and tabla, and appeared on the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Aside from the Western string orchestration arranged and overdubbed by Martin, and Beatles assistant Neil Aspinall playing one of the tambura parts, Harrison and the Indian players were the only musicians on the track. None of the Music Circle personnel were credited by name, a situation that Lavezzoli finds regrettable, given the quality of the tabla and dilruba playing. Research undertaken by the University of Liverpool’s Department of Music has since identified the four musicians as Anna Joshi, Amrit Gajjar (both dilruba), Buddhadev Kansara (tambura) and Natwar Soni (tabla).

Talking to Hunter Davies, Harrison bemoaned how, although the AMC’s musicians played “much better than any Western musicians could do”, the fact that they had daytime jobs and only played music part-time was reflected in their abilities in some cases. Harrison’s next recordings in the genre were for the soundtrack to Joe Massot’s film Wonderwall, part of which was issued as his first solo album, Wonderwall Music (1968). Harrison started the sessions in November 1967, again at Abbey Road, with an unnamed tabla player among the line-up of contributors. Looking for greater authenticity, he then travelled to Bombay in January 1968 and recorded at HMV Studios with musicians including Shivkumar Sharma, Aashish Khan and Hariprasad Chaurasia. […]

Recording sessions Anna Joshi participated in

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