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The Concert for Bangladesh (1971)

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1 The Concert for Bangladesh (1971)
Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science

2 The End The Beatles were the most successful and popular band in history. They stopped touring in 1966, recorded and released their final album Abbey Road in 1969, and pursued solo careers. But no one knew the group had officially disbanded. Though each of them had quit and come back at some point (first Ringo during the White Album, then George during the Get Back sessions, and finally John on the completion of Abbey Road), it was Paul’s public statement on the release of his first solo album McCartney (1970) that made headlines: Q: Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles? A: No. Q: Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career? A: Time will tell. Being a solo album means it's "the start of a solo career..." and not being done with the Beatles means it's just a rest. So it's both. Q: Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones? A: Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don't really know. Q: Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again? A: No.

3 The Beginning Each of the Beatles enjoyed considerable, immediate solo success. John had hits with “Give Peace a Chance” (1969) and “Instant Karma” (1970) and released a critically acclaimed solo album Plastic Ono Band (1970). Paul’s issued his first album and the hit single “Another Day” (1970). George enjoyed massive success with All Things Must Pass (1970) – the first triple album in pop/rock history – and the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” (1970) and “What Is Life?” (1970). Ringo released two solo albums and had a hit with “It Don’t Come Easy” (1971), which was credited to Ringo but actually written by George. When George announced that he was going to stage a benefit concert with his “friends” there was rampant speculation that the Beatles would reunite. In fact, George asked them to come together for the concert. John and Ringo agreed but Paul did not. John ultimately backed out after George balked at having Yoko on the bill.

4 The “One to One” Concert (1972)
On 30 August 1972, John and Yoko performed two charity shows at Madison Square Garden for the mentally challenged at friend Geraldo Rivera’s request. Rivera was a New York reporter who had done a series of stories on overcrowding, lack of medical attention, filthy living quarters, and physical abuse suffered by children living in New York’s Willowbrook Institution. The event was called, One to One, and New York mayor John Lindsay declared the date “One to One Day.” The concert raised awareness and ultimately helped the movement achieve legislative success with the passage of the Civil Rights of Institutional Patients Act of 1980. Both performances were filmed and recorded, with the evening show broadcast on ABC Television, and the earlier matineé show compiled for release as the 1986 live album and video, Live in New York City. It would be Lennon's last full live concert. The shows also featured Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Melanie Safka, and Sha-Na-Na (who are not featured on the video or album).

5 “Doesn’t the Eastern Flavor Come Rather Expensive?”
“Norwegian Wood”—a 1965 John song (with a little help from Paul) from Rubber Soul—was notable because George Harrison played the Indian instrument—the sitar—on the track. It was the first time an Indian instrument was used on a Western pop song and prompted other Western musicians to broaden their musical pallet. For example, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones played the sitar on 1966’s “Paint it Black.” George explained: “During the filming of Help! there were some Indian musicians in a restaurant scene and I kind of messed around with a sitar then. But during that year, towards the end of the year anyway, I kept hearing the name of Ravi Shankar. So I went out and bought a record and that was it. It felt very familiar to me to listen to that music. It was around that time I bought a sitar. I just bought a cheap sitar in a shop called India Craft, in London. It was lying around. I hadn't really figured out what to do with it. When we were working on Norwegian Wood it just needed something, and it was quite spontaneous, from what I remember. I just picked up my sitar, found the notes and just played it. We miked it up and put it on and it just seemed to hit the spot.” George would go on to use not only the sitar but other Indian instruments and musicians on several Beatles and solo songs. He studied with Ravi and they became lifelong friends.

6 Bangla Desh George and Ravi Shankar organized two benefit concerts on August 1, 1971 to raise awareness and funds for refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), following the 1970 Bhola cyclone and the civil war-related Bangladesh atrocities. George wrote, recorded, and released a single “Bangla Desh” to coincide with the concert. The concerts featured a number of major artists— all a surprise to the audience who purchased tickets knowing only that they would see George and Ravi.

7 Badfinger Originally singed by the Beatles, Badfinger’s first hit “Come and Get It” (1969) was written and produced by Paul. But singer/guitarist Pete Ham would write his own hits for the band: “No Matter What” (1970), “Day After Day” (1971)—both produced by George, and “Baby Blue” (1972). “Without You” (co-written by Pete and bandmate Tom Evans) became a huge hit for both Harry Nilsson in 1971 and Mariah Carey in 1994. Tragically, Pete Ham committed suicide in and Tom Evans, who never got over his friends death, did the same in 1983.

8 Billy Preston Billy Preston was a child prodigy who toured with Little Richard in 1962 and met the Beatles in their club days in Hamburg, Germany. Six years later George brought Billy to the Get Back sessions at Apple Records in London. Billy played keyboards on the Let It Be (1970) album and played with them at their final rooftop concert on January 30, He is one of the people commonly called the “fifth Beatle.” The Beatles signed him to a solo record deal and he scored hits with “That’s the Way God Planned It” (1969) and a cover of George’s “My Sweet Lord” (1971). He went on to further success with the hit singles “Outa-Space” (1972), “Will It Go Round in Circles” (1973), and “Nothing from Nothing” (1974).

9 Klaus Voormann One night in Hamburg, a German artists named Klaus Voormann had an argument with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr and their friend Jürgen Vollmer and wandered into the Kaiserkeller club and saw Ringo playing with his band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes followed by the Beatles (John, Paul, George, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best). Klaus had never heard rock ‘n’ roll music before (he listened to jazz) and was blown away. George remembered: “Astrid was the girlfriend of Klaus at first and they'd had a row one night, so he'd gone off in a huff. He was pissed off with her and he came down to this very bad area of Hamburg, where he would never have gone otherwise. He was walking around and he heard this noise coming out of a cellar so he came into the Kaiserkeller, saw us and thought we were really interesting. He went back and told Astrid and brought her and some of their friends - there were ballet dancers with them .” Paul recalled: “One of those days we were doing our stuff and some slightly strange-looking people arrived who didn't look like anyone else. Immediately we felt, 'Wey-hey... kindred spirits... something's going on here.' They came in and sat down and they were Astrid, Jürgen and Klaus.” George continued: “And they started coming in on a regular basis to see us. Astrid and Klaus would come in most frequently. They liked our band and she wanted to photograph us.” Klaus went on to become a sought-after bass player and artist. He played on Beatles solo records and designed the album cover for Revolver (1966). That’s his bass riff at the opening of Carly Simon’s hit “You’re So Vain.” (l-r) Klaus, Astrid, Stuart

10 Eric Clapton Of course Eric Clapton was already famous for his work in the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Cream when he recorded the guitar solo on George’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” during the sessions for the Beatles’ “White Album” in 1968. He went on to form Blind Faith with Steve Winwood, play with John Lennon, and record the masterpiece album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Of course the song “Layla” was about George’s wife Patti who Eric was hopelessly in love with. While Eric’s devotion for Patti strained his relationship with George, they somehow remained friends throughout the ongoing personal drama—playing on each other’s records and touring together. Eventually, Eric nearly killed himself with heroin and alcohol, married Patti in 1979 after she and George divorced, and finally sobered up and had a massive career resurgence after he and Patti called it quits in 1988.

11 Session Aces: Leon Russell, Jesse Ed Davis, Jim Keltner
Leon Russell (top) was an in-demand session musician, producer, and successful songwriter known for classics recorded by himself and others including “A Song for You,” “Superstar” and “Tight Rope.” His career was rejuvenated in 2010 when Elton John recorded the album The Union with him. Native American guitarist Jesse Ed Davis (middle with Klaus and George) was also a sought-after session musician and producer. Jim Keltner (bottom) was also an important session drummer who regularly worked with John, George, and Ringo and eventually was the drummer for George’s “supergroup” The Traveling Wilburys.

12 Dylan and the Beatles The Beatles’ influence on popular music cannot be overstated. For example, Bob Dylan new right away that the Beatles were much more than simply the latest fad. He said: “I had heard the Beatles in New York when they first hit. Then, when we were driving through Colorado we had the radio on and eight of the ten top songs were Beatles songs. In Colorado! ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand,’ all those early ones. They were doing these things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid. You could only do that with other musicians. Even if you’re playing your own chords you had to have other people playing with you. That was obvious. And it started me thinking about [playing with] other people. But I just kept it to myself that I really dug them. Everybody else thought they were for the teenyboppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power. I knew they were pointing the direction where music had to go.” Dylan met the Beatles in May 1964 and turned them on to marijuana. He thought the Beatles were already “getting high” based on his mis-hearing of the lyrics to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” but the Beatles told him that they were singing “I can’t hide” not “I get high.” The Beatles had taken pills and other stimulants before but became consistent users of harder drugs thereafter. During the filming of their second feature-length film Help! (1965) John Lennon later said that the Beatles were “smoking marijuana for breakfast” at that point. Dylan had an important effect on the Beatles musically. Both John and George expanded their lyrical content in an attempt to match Dylan’s prolific, and sometimes esoteric, words. George went on to work with Dylan in the 1970s and 80s on George’s first solo record All Things Must Pass (1970), the Concert for Bangladesh (1971), and in their band the Traveling Wilburys ( ).

13 Bob Dylan Dylan had been through a number of career-defining changes before George convinced him to participate in this concert. Dylan was a folk protest singer in the early 1960 playing only acoustic guitar and harmonica, emulating his hero Woody Guthrie. But when the Beatles hit America, he put down the acoustic guitar, stopped writing protest songs, started playing an electric guitar, and was backed by electric rock and blues musicians at the Newport Folk Festival in He was roundly booed and much of the audience walked out. But he recorded and toured as a rock act (backed by The Band) through 1966 and had even greater success with rock audiences. In July 1966 he was injured in a motorcycle accident and largely withdrew from touring and the public. He continued to record with The Band including the legendary Basement Tapes and did an album in Nashville working with Johnny Cash. He did a few sporadic public performances but by the time of Bangladesh it was understood that seeing Dylan live was a very rare event.

14 On With The Show!

15 The concerts were followed by a bestselling live 3-album boxed set and concert film that opened in the spring of 1972. It was the first-ever, large-scale rock ‘n’ roll benefit concert. At the time it was difficult getting any of the funds to the cause as both the U.S. and U.K. did not consider it tax exempt and millions were placed in escrow subject to an IRS audit. Despite these initial problems, to date it has earned $12 million for Bangladesh relief through the George Harrison fund for UNICEF, which also supports other charitable causes.

16 Material World Charitable Foundation (1973)
George founded this charity to coincide with the release of his album Living in the Material World (1973). It came about in reaction to the taxation issues that had hindered his 1971–72 aid project for refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War. George assigned his publishing royalties from 9 of the 11 songs on the album, including the hit single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth),“ to the foundation, in perpetuity. George did the same with other songs such the one he wrote for Ringo “Sunshine Life For Me.” The charity’s purpose is to donate to various causes, and promote diverse artistic endeavors and philosophies. Its first project in the latter regard was sponsoring a 1974 revue of Indian classical music – the Music Festival from India – led by Ravi Shankar and featuring world music pioneers such as Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, L. Subramaniam and Sultan Khan. Youtube: listen to Ringo and George sing “Sunshine Life For Me” with Klaus and The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson) backing them from 1973’s Ringo album:

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