Saturday, October 15, 2011

Special Projects: Bangla Desh

George Harrison and Friends: Bangla Desh


George Harrison was always my favorite of the Beatles, even at my tender age of 10 when they hit the music scene in 1964 -I loved his thoughtfulness, his playfulness, his spirituality... so imagine my delight at discovering the two-part Martin Scorsese documentary, Living in the Material World, recently airing on HBO...

It brought back memories, as I re-discovered much and learned a lot - of course I must have known, but it was surprising to realize that George's August 1, 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh (actually two shows the same day) was the first of its kind (long before Live Aid) to bring together famous musicians (Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and others) to raise global awareness as well as money for a charitable cause...

According to Wikipedia: "As East Pakistan struggled to become the separate state of Bangladesh during theBangladesh Liberation War, the tremendous political and military turmoil and the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities led to a massive refugee problem in India. This problem was compounded by the 1970 Bhola cyclone, bringing torrential rains causing devastating floods and threatening a humanitarian disaster."

In reply to a request for help from musician Ravi Shankar, Harrison not only wrote and recorded the single Bangla Desh but took Shankar's idea of a small fund-raising concert in the United States and turned it into an enormous event, organized in only five weeks, in Madison Square Garden.

The concert raised $243,418.51 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. Sales of the album and DVD continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.

I recall going to the Fox Theater in Atlanta, during my senior year in high school, to watch the film with friends - I owned the album and, after watching the Scorsese tribute, just purchased the 2-disc CD. I always knew I loved George best - the documentary reinforced why...

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