Shankar (Lakshminarayana), Indian singer, composer, arranger, producer, and violinist; b. Madras, April 26, 1950. He first studied voice, violin, and drumming at home with his father, V. Lakshminarayana (d. Dec. 3, 1990), and mother, L. Seethlakshmi; then went to the U.S., where he earned his Ph.D. at Wesleyan Univ. in Middletown, Conn. (1974). With the English-Irish composer Caroline, he formed the pop group the Epidemics in 1980, bringing together in its performances and recordings a variety of genres, including classical Indian, folk, pop, and Western; is also active with his own Indian classical group, Shankar. He invented the Ten String Stereophonic Double Violin, a double-bodied instrument that, when both necks are played simultaneously, is capable of producing all the tones of the orch. string family; when the necks are played separately, the strings of the one not played respond sympathetically. The instrument made its debut in Shankar’s Ragam Tanam Pallavi Ragam Hemmavthi for Double Violin and South and North Indian Drums (1980), which appeared on the album Who’s to Know; other albums include Palghat Mani Tyer (2 vols.), Pancha Nadai Pattavi, and Eye Catcher. He also provided film scores for The Last Temptation of Christ (1989) and Jacob’s Ladder (1990). Shankar has appeared widely at festivals promoting a variety of social causes; he performed at the United Nations Peace Day Festival in N.Y. (1987), festivals in support of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation in India (1989–91), and the Tibet Alive for World Peace concert (1991). His other compositions include Himmalaya for Vocalists and Double Violin (1981) and the song Never Take No for an Answer (1985).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire