The Concert for Bangladesh, which is considered the very first organized concert for aide/relief, happened in 1971 – fourteen years before Midge and Bob coupled for Africa.
It was pulled together in less than two months and rapidly booked for the only available date that was coming up at Madison Square Garden that summer – August 1st. I couldn’t find anything on it, but does anyone know how long it took through idea, cold calls, confirmations, booking, transportation and performance date to pull together Live Aid? It was certainly a lot longer than two months.
Among the notables were Ravi Shankar (who initially asked Harrison for ideas to help the ravaged country of Bangladesh), Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Badfinger, Billy Preston and Bob Dylan. Clapton was supposed to be in full rehearsals a week before show date, but due to a lingering heroin habit, showed up the day before.
Interesting to know, John Ono was slated to play, but because it was stipulated that in order to join the mates onstage, his significant other was not to co-perform (which John agreed to). The wife and he fought over said stipulation, and it resulted in John walking away. Sir Paul was also asked to join the line, but he didn’t think it made sense, what with the Apple label lawsuit raging. Good ol’ Ringo came aboard happily, playing right alongside pal Jim Keltner.
Keep in mind that The Concert For Bangladesh was all well before it was good for exposure, and your career, to pack a multitude of ‘stars’ into a studio, record the obligatory dual-penned themed single, tape a video that zooms in showing the alternating expressive pained/hurt look on the varied faces as they lip synch the grieving lyrics (while filming also juxtaposed the frivolity of beating time with chums), releasing it all on a 12” collectors edition 45 RPM, and topping it all off with twenty second sound bites publicizing the event (shown on an incipid Hollywood palaver show) which was pre-taped at a red carpet, black tie affair just before accepting an award for their kindness, only to grandly, humbly and seriously accept the statue on behalf of the victims.
As in any event this size, what actually went to the cause in terms of hard cash has been, naturally, disputed. One hard lesson learned from this by all future charitable event organizers, was to apply for tax-exempt status – which the Bangladesh organizers didn’t realize to do. What is known for sure is that Harrison donated all money from the album sales directly to UNICEF, and that all DVD and CD sales still, to this day, go to the relief effort.
That’s The Way God Planned It
(I’m going to have to slate a post for showcasing the genius of Billy Preston.) Amidst the company of gargantuan guitar gods, Billy plays soulfully and meaningfully, parting the heavenly clouds begging for man’s heart to show the compassion and common decency that it’s capable of.
That's The Way God Planned It
Medley: Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Youngblood
(Come to think of it, I’ll have to slate a post for the inimitable Leon Russell.) An extraordinarily gifted pianist, Leon played with quite a few luminaries back in the day. Given the time, again, 1971, this tune kicks Madison Square butt. We have screaming tug-and-pull background singers, piercing guitar solo work and enough boogie-woogie to make your tail-feather vibrate. And hey, anyone that can segue into, and cover well, this Coasters tune scores a major World Cup goal anyway.
Caution: this piece clocks in at 10:12 so adjust your attention span. Once you do though, it’s well worth the recalibration.
Medley: Jumpin' Jack Flash/Youngblood
God bless all who continue to gather succor and support for the many global misfortunes that the vast majority of us have never experienced, and may they all wildly succeed.
However, let us also acknowledge how these rock charity events all owe their inspiration to George Harrison and The Concert For Bangladesh.
"My friend came to me
Sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country died
Although I couldn't feel the pain
I knew I'd have to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives"
Addendum: Man, it has all of a sudden gotten so labor intensive to post! I can’t copy/paste from Word to Blogger anymore, and had to go through so many gyrations just to get this page up! Sure, I left for a while, but geez, did it have to get so difficult? Spacing is off and I can't even figure out how to embed a damn video!
Last Word: I am thoroughly humbled by those who wrote me that they still came by from time to time even though I hadn’t posted in over a year! They then had the compassion to write me words of encouragement within just these past few weeks! Words are grossly inarticulate for those kind and sincere actions. Thank you - my friends. And let it be known, that in my absence, I still visited your sites during my time away - it kept me sane. Well ...