Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Concert for Bangladesh

Triple LP Box Set Cover.

While we are on the subject of music I would like to extend a big thank you to iTunes who marked the 40th anniversary of The Concert for Bangladesh by allowing free steaming of the 1971 concert film last weekend.

George Harrison with Jesse Ed Davis and Klaus Voorman.
The concerts were organised by George Harrison following an approach from Ravi Shankar, sitar maestro and Bengali. Two performances took place on the 1st August 1971 at Madison Square Gardens New York, the first at noon and the second at 7pm, in front of an estimated 40000 people. These were the first benefit concerts of this magnitude ever to take place. As well as Ravi Shankar and George the performances featured some of the most prominent performers of that time including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and Ringo Starr. The back up musicians were also some of the finest around, Jesse Ed Davis, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner and Carl Radle, also included in the line up were The Hollywood Horns and a grand array of backing vocalists.

Ravi Shanker.
The fundraiser was organised to raise money for the famine relief of peoples from East Pakistan. In 1947 the state of Pakistan was born following the departure of the British from the Indian subcontinent. It consisted of two wings. West Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangla Desh) separated by over 1000 miles of Indian Territory. Tensions between the two wings developed immediately and a reign of terror from West Pakistan resulted in the murder of an estimated one million East Bengalis and many millions of them crossing the border seeking refuge in neighbouring India who could ill afford to feed their own peoples let alone millions of refugee’s. Torrential rains compounded the problem causing floods, threatening a complete humanitarian disaster.

Bod Dylan backed by George and Leon Russell.
Although the concert did raise money, and sales of DVDs and CDs continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEFF, its main role was to increase awareness of this vast catastrophe and it certainly succeeded in that. It was a great pleasure to watch this legendary concert even if the camera work and the lighting left a little to be desired. 

Eric Clapton when he looked like a rock star and not a bank manager!

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