Benefit for refugees provides template for benefit shows
Throughout his time with The Beatles, George Harrison was known as the silent and mysterious member of the Fab Four.
John Lennon was tabbed as the socially conscious lyricist. Paul McCartney was the one thought to compose the melodies. And Ringo Starr was — well— Ringo Starr. George was mysterious. He was concerned with the supernatural. Like John, George was a prolific lyricist. Like Paul, he was a brilliant composer. But George’s work was often obscure and philosophical.
John was known as an activist but it was George who did more real work to help the underprivileged.
In 1971, he joined forces with Ravi Shankar, Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Badfinger and Billy Preston for the Concert for Bangladesh, the first-ever known rock ‘n roll benefit concert. It was also the first rock concert performed at Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. It was now dubbed the world’s most famous arena.
The Concert for Bangladesh was designed to raise money for refugees from the war-torn country, which was landlocked and caught in the middle of the Indian-Pakistani War.
It should be noted that Lennon was invited to join the all-star cast, but he refused because Yoko Ono didn’t receive an invitation.
On the soundtrack LP (which was originally released by Apple Records as a three-album set), Harrison performs Beatle classics such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes the Sun,” and “Something.”
He also performs some of his early solo work including “Wah Wah,” “My Sweet Lord,” “Beware of the Darkness,” “That’s the Way God Planned it” (with a significant contribution from Preston), and “Bangla Desh.”
Starr and Harrison join forces on “It Don’t Come Easy,” a tune penned by Ringo, which both he and George released as a single.
Russell takes the lead on a medley that includes a cover of the Coasters’ “Youngblood” and the Rolling Stones classic “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Russell’s piano, soulful vocals, and rocking delivery make this track the highlight of the album.
Dylan’s contributions include some of his classics such as “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Just Like a Woman.”
The concert LP is a classic, but it also holds a special historical significance because it sets the stage for Live Aid and Farm Aid, which were conceived 15 years later.
It also establishes Harrison as a champion for the downtrodden. Here, he does the things that Lennon spent his time preaching about.