Concert for Bangladesh
By Michael Russell
In this article we're going to review one of the greatest concerts in the history of modern music, the Concert For Bangladesh. The Concert For Bangladesh was held on August 1, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in the greatest city in the world, New York. To the youth of the time it was just another concert. But as history goes, it may very well go down as one of the greatest events in mankind's.
The brains behind the concert was ex Beatle, George Harrison, who had become very much into causes after the group split up. In this case, the cause was the people of Bangladesh, who were literally starving to death. The concert was put on in the hopes of bringing some hope to a dying region of the world.
Bangladesh had a troubled history. The events leading up to this concert are as follows. In 1969 General Yahya Khan assumed power in Pakistan. His goal was to put an end to end the dictatorship and start a democracy. In December of the following year the League of Bangladesh won a huge victory. It became the largest party in Pakistan. But Kahn was unwilling to allow a power shift to Bangladesh. So the results of the election were ignored and a reign of terror was unleashed in Bangladesh to eliminate the opposition to Kahn. It is estimated that over 1 million people were murdered. This was the greatest atrocity since Hitler and the Jews. The ones who escaped to India suffered terrible starvation, among other things. Thus, the reason for the concert.
It all started with a call that George Harrison made to Ringo Starr, another ex-Beatle. He then made another call to Leon Russell. Both agreed to come to the East Coast for the concert. After those calls, others were made to business managers, the Garden itself and everyone and anyone Harrison could think of to be of assistance.
The list of performers was as long as King Kong's right arm. At the top of the list was Eric Clapton, who had played with George Harrison while with the Beatles on tunes like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which was played at the concert itself. Another friend of Harrison's, Billy Preston, who played on the Beatle's big hit "Get Back" was also there. At the concert itself Preston played "That's The Way God Planned It." A group that was up and coming at the time, Badfinger, was also in attendance. They were supposed to be the next Beatles, actually founded by the Beatles and also on Apple Records. At the concert Badfinger served as a backing band and didn't play any of their original material.
Rounding out the all star cast was the great Bob Dylan, who sang many tunes including his signature tune "Blowin' in the Wind." The Concert for Bangladesh was not just a concert. It was an event. One that will never be forgotten and one that hopefully will never come again.