University of Sheffield musician helps reveal the last untold Beatles story

  • Study reveals new insights into how George Harrison and The Beatles were influenced by Indian music
  • Project uncovers rare images and stories from the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Research leads to the discovery of an Indian musician who featured on the album
  • Biographical concert celebrates 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper

A concert revealing new insights into how George Harrison and The Beatles were influenced by Indian music is being held this week (Friday 9 June 2017).

The Beatles and Ravi Shankar

The biographical concert, organised by John Ball, a World Musician in Residence at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music, reveals new stories and rare images from the recording of The Beatles’ legendary album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The event also features two surviving musicians who played on the album.

Research led by Sheffield’s John Ball and Dr Mike Jones from the University of Liverpool has led to the discovery of an Indian musician who featured on Sgt. Pepper, but until now has not been credited for his contribution to the recording.

The musicians who contributed to the album are the late Anna Joshi, Amrit Gajjar, and Natwar Soni. However, research led by Sheffield’s John Ball and Liverpool’s Dr Mike Jones has revealed that Indian musician Buddhadev Kansara also played on Sgt. Pepper.

Working as Musical Director on the project, John Ball has been working closely with the musicians to incorporate their stories and music into the script of the show. He has also worked with a group of contemporary British-based Indian musicians who have devised original, Indian music inspired versions of Beatles songs performed on instruments such as the sitar, dilruba, table and mdringam.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper, the concert, which is being held at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, has many surprises including a performance of an instrument played on the recorded album as well as images and stories from George Harrison’s encounter with Indian music and musician Ravi Shankar.

John Ball, who has been World Musician in Residence at the University of Sheffield since 2008, said: “This project gives fans of The Beatles as well as students in Sheffield’s Department of Music a rare opportunity to be a part of a Beatles story that has never fully been told.

“It features stories from British-based Indian musicians which will be shared partly through film and partly through personal anecdote on the night. These stories create a whole new picture of the ‘quiet’ Beatle George Harrison and show just how significant Indian music was to George and how his experience infused The Beatles as a whole with new ideas and fresh inspiration.”

Following the concert in Liverpool, the stories and findings from the project can be shared with music students at the University to help them with their own studies, particularly those with an interest in exploring Indian music.

For more information on the concert and to book tickets, please visit:

Additional information

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The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

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For further information please contact: 

Sean Barton
Junior Public Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852