Remembering George Harrison: The Concert For Bangladesh

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The Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison sadly died at the young age of 58 on this date in 2001. The two-time Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee known as the Quiet Beatle was a force both within the Fab Four and during his subsequent solo career that included many other collaborations. In remembrance of George on the anniversary of his death, here’s a look at the all-star Concert For Bangladesh charity event he staged in 1971.

One of the landmarks of Harrison’s post-Beatles career took place on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Along with Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, Harrison staged the Concert For Bangladesh to benefit the United Nations Children’s Fund For Relief To Refugee Children Of Bangladesh raising $243,418.50 in funds from the concert, with additional revenues generated from the subsequent sales of the live album and concert film. According to the original Phil Spector-produced live LP release, the “recording was made using up to 44 microphones at one time.”

Harrison tapped fellow member of The Beatles Ringo Starr, as well as such rock luminaries as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Jim Keltner, Billy Preston and the members of Badfinger. Following an extended opening featuring traditional dhun performed by Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and others, Harrison emerged to lead the assembled band on his “Wah-Wah,” “My Sweet Lord” and “Awaiting on You All.”

The concert also saw Preston leading “That’s the Way God Planned It,” Russell taking charge of “Youngblood” and Starr singing his hit “It Don’t Come Easy.” Dylan fronted the collective for a suite of tunes, performing his favorites “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Just Like A Woman.” Harrison also led an encore that included his Beatles classic “Something.”

Watch The Concert For Bangladesh concert film below:

Film Tracklist

Ravi Shankar

Performers: Ravi Shankar (sitar), Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), Alla Rakha (tabla), Kamala Chakravarty (tambura)

  • Bangla Dhun

George Harrison & Band

Performers: George Harrison (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), Ringo Starr (vocals, drums), Leon Russell (vocals, piano), Billy Preston (vocals, organ), Eric Clapton (electric guitar, slide guitar), Jesse Ed Davis (electric guitar, slide guitar), Klaus Voormann (bass), Jim Keltner (drums); with Badfinger: Pete Ham (acoustic guitar), Tom Evans (12-string acoustic guitar), Joey Molland (acoustic guitar), Mike Gibbins (percussion); with The Hollywood Horns: Jim Horn, Chuck Findley, Jackie Kelso, Allan Beutler, Lou McCreary, Ollie Mitchell; and The Soul Choir: Don Nix, Claudia Linnear, Jo Green, Dolores Hall, Jeanie Greene, Marlin Greene, Don Preston

  • Wah-Wah
  • My Sweet Lord
  • Awaiting On You All
  • That’s The Way God Planned It – performed by Billy Preston
  • It Don’t Come Easy – performed by Ringo Starr
  • Beware Of Darkness – featuring Leon Russell on second lead vocal
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps – featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood – performed by Leon Russell, with additional lead vocals on “Youngblood” by Don Preston and George Harrison; featuring Preston on lead guitar and Carl Radle on bass (in place of Voormann)
  • Here Comes the Sun – featuring Pete Ham on second acoustic guitar

Bob Dylan

Performers: Bob Dylan (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica), George Harrison (electric guitar, slide guitar, backing vocals), Leon Russell (bass, backing vocals), Ringo Starr (tambourine)

  • A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
  • Just Like A Woman

George Harrison & Band: Encore

Performers: as for George Harrison and band (above), but with Don Preston on electric guitar on “Bangla Desh”

  • Something
  • Bangla Desh

[Originally published November 29, 2016.]

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