The Beatles: At the mention of their name one can easily start singing lyrics from one of their songs. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; these guys are indeed a legend of the 60s and are heavily revered all over the world! In Bangladesh, however, even though The Beatles are quite well known, the only person worth mentioning would be George Harrison. He is the most revered, renowned, and loved member of The Beatles in Bangladesh. Why? Because of just three words: Concert for Bangladesh.
August 1st, 2015 marks the 44th anniversary of George Harrison and Pandit Ravi Shankar’s Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Playing to a total of 40,000 people, beloved George and his good friend, Raviji, organized the said concert in an effort to raise international awareness and relief efforts for refugees from Bangladesh (formally known as East Pakistan) following the Bangladesh Liberation War and the grisly genocide that occurred during. A best-selling live album (a box three-record set) and an Apple Films’ concert documentary ensued.
Even though this concert happened 44 years ago, this concert is still one of the most talked about concerts today. What’s so special about this specific concert? This very concert is the “one” that set the stage for musicians wanting to perform for relief efforts. The Concert for Bangladesh event raised close to $250,000 for Bangladesh relief (administered by UNICEF). It was the first ever benefit concert of such caliber and featured many extremely beloved artists that included ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, and Badfinger (a British band). All of these brilliant and famous men, flew to New York City that night, to perform in that gig for free! The concert event was so huge and so well received that, on June 5th of 1972, UNICEF honored George Harrison and Ravi Shankar with its “Child is the Father of Man” award for being the pioneers of fundraising efforts for the refugees of Bangladesh. As stated previously, this concert set the stage for future music charity concerts; a notable rock benefit concert that was influenced by George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh would be 1985’s Live Aid.
George Harrison is loved by the people of Bangladesh so much that in 2008, moves were underway in the Bangladeshi High Court to have him officially recognized and honored as a hero for his noble role during the extremely troubled birth of the nation. Such honor and respect is definitely well deserved for an incredible musician such as him. He is compassionate, inspiring, and extremely talented. Not only does his music touch the hearts of everyone, but his love and compassion for those that are suffering and in need is what touches the hearts of everyone, especially us Bangladeshis.
Although The Beatles are the highest grossing band of all time, George Harrison remains one of the greatest and most influential Beatles of all. Such is his legacy.