George Harrison playing a sitar, circa 1967
Beatle George Harrison's sitar auctioned for $62,500
29 September 2017
Harrison (left) and Boyd (right) went to India so he could play the sitar under Ravi Shankar (middle)
A sitar owned and played by George Harrison has been sold for $62,500 (£46,581) in the United States.
The instrument, purchased from a shop on London's Oxford Street in 1965, was used by Harrison during the recording of the Beatles song Norwegian Wood.
The Indian string instrument, crafted by a well-known music shop in Kolkata, was later gifted to a friend of Harrison's first wife, Patti Boyd.
The name of the successful bidder has not been disclosed by the auctioneers.
Bidding for the sitar began on 28 September at $50,000 (£37,327).
Harrison had discovered the sitar in 1965, on the set of the Beatles' second film, Help.
His love affair with oriental mysticism first became known in Norwegian Wood, John Lennon's tale of an extra-marital fling. Acoustic guitar and muted bass were augmented by the Indian instrument.
"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," Harrison was quoted as saying in The Beatles Anthologies.
"It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked."
Next year, Harrison gifted the sitar to George Drummond, a friend of Boyd, during the couple's honeymoon in Barbados.
The Beatles recorded Norwegian Wood - the first Western rock band to use the sitar on a commercial recording - in October 1965, heralding a short lived "raga-rock" genre.