On This Day: The Concerts for Bangladesh - FREE Shipping
01 Aug 2023
On this day in 1971, a pair of benefit concerts organised by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar took place in Madison Square Garden to raise international awareness of, and fund relief efforts for refugees in East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War-related genocide.
In Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar
, Shankar explains, 'The idea occurred to me of giving a concert to raise money for 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 mornings and spend time there, and he understood what I was going through. I asked him frankly, George, can you help me?' because I knew that if I gave a concert myself I would not be able to raise a significant amount. He was really moved and said, 'Yes, something should be done.' That was when he wrote the song 'Bangla Desh'.
The event ended up becoming the largest benefit of its time, featuring a supergroup of performers such as Ringo Starr
, Bob Dylan
, Eric Clapton
, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger. Additionally, Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan - both with familial ties to Bangladesh - performed a riveting opening set of Indian classical music, providing an ephemeral connection to the people and place for which the concert was about.
'The priority was to attract world attention to what was going on. It wasn't so much the money because you can feed somebody today and tomorrow they will still be hungry, but if they're getting massacred you've got to try and stop that first of all.' - George Harrison
This historic event and the rest of Ravi Shankar's career spanning decades, continents, art forms and music genres are covered extensively in the signed limited edition, Raga Mala
The edition also features a remarkable collection of nearly 300 photographs, many previously unpublished. Further items such as letters, notes, news clippings and hand-written sheet music, are drawn almost entirely from the personal archives of Ravi Shankar and those of the book's editor, George Harrison.
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