Concert For Bangladesh Getting 50th Anniversary Event

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The original 1971 album cover

Fifty years after the original benefit concerts organized by former Beatle George Harrison and sitar maestro Ravi Shankar took place, a Concert for Bangladesh has been scheduled to take place in India in 2021. Fittingly, the concert will be led by Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison, and Shankar’s daughter, Anoushka Shankar.

News of the 50th anniversary concert was first reported on March 14 in media reports from India. On March 18, the independent book publisher Genesis Publications which specializes in high-quality, limited-edition music books, also provided a bit of news on the subject. An official announcement with more information on the anniversary concert is due in the coming weeks.

Dhani Harrison, 42, inducted the Electric Light Orchestra into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. He has released several albums and was the opening act for Jeff Lynne’s ELO on their 2019 North American tour.

Anoushka Shankar is a musician and composer with seven Grammy Award nominations. The sitar player turns 40 on June 9.

Anoushka Shankar via her Facebook page

The original 1971 concert was born out of an idea by Ravi Shankar, the world’s foremost sitar virtuoso and composer, and George Harrison to help the people of Bangladesh who were facing a humanitarian crisis. Gathering numerous artists who wanted to help, Harrison orchestrated what would be the first benefit concert of its kind, raising millions of dollars for UNICEF.

In Shankar’s autobiography, Raga Mala, he recalled the moment he approached Harrison: ‘The idea occurred to me of giving a concert to raise money to help these refugees–something on a bigger scale than normal. While I was thinking of this, George Harrison was in Los Angeles. He would come to my house in the morning and spend time there, and he understood what I was going through. I asked him frankly, ‘George can you help me?’ He was really moved and said, ‘Yes, something should be done.'”

Part of the all-star lineup at the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh

In April 1971, Harrison went to work recruiting friends to participate. Not only would The Concert for Bangladesh be Harrison’s first major live appearance since the Beatles quit touring five years earlier, it would go down as one of the greatest evenings of classic rock in history. The pair of concerts, held on August 1, 1971, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, featured some of popular music’s biggest names, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, and Billy Preston, among them, as well as Shankar and fellow musicians from India.

Watch interviews with George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, and highlights of several songs from the 1971 concerts

Included among the original concerts’ many highlights: Harrison, Starr and Clapton performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” before Harrison brought the house down with “Here Comes the Sun,” his acoustic Beatles classic. Dylan played a mini-set that included “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Just Like a Woman.” The filmed version of the concerts was released in the U.S. on March 23, 1972.

Related: Our feature on the original concerts

It’s not known whether the original 1971 concert recording or the film will be reissued. The three-LP set and DVD have both been long out of print. The December 20, 1971, release earned the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Album.

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. Celya723
    #1 Celya723 20 March, 2021, 03:45

    Best way to rake in some more dollars for international relief would be to re-release this album, remastered for 22nd century sound systems. It’s a great album full of music that’s stood the test of time.

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  2. Concer Trader
    #2 Concer Trader 20 March, 2021, 08:13

    Were there songs from the two concerts that did not show up on the LPs? It would be amazing to hear and see both complete concerts

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  3. RecordSteve
    #3 RecordSteve 20 March, 2021, 13:51

    Agree with above music fans….

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