The Concerts For Bangla Desh

Aug. 1st, 1971   The concert for Bangladesh (or Bangla Desh, as the country was originally spelled) was staged to raise money for victims of famine and war in that country.

EastPakistanFlag1Formerly known as East Pakistan

BangladeshFlag1The shows were organized to raise international awareness and fund relief efforts for refugees from what was now Bangladesh, following the Bangladesh Liberation War-related genocide.

BanglaDesh2It was organized by George Harrison and Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar.

GeorgeBanglaDeshThe event was the first-ever benefit concert of such a magnitude and featured a supergroup of performers that included Harrison,

RingBanglaDesh1fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr,

R-1144354-1426686383-7222.pngBob Dylan,

Eric Clapton BangladeshEric Clapton,



Badfinger4and the band Badfinger (Pete Ham, Joey Molland, Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins).

Concert1In addition, Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan – both of whom had ancestral roots in Bangladesh

RingBanglaDesh2Ringo performed his Top-10, self-written single “It Don’t Come Easy”. Rolling Stone magazine printed of Starr’s contribution: “Seeing Ringo Starr drumming and singing on stage has a joy in it that is one of the happiest feelings on earth still.

03_117056780At one point in the show it was Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Leon Russell AND Bob Dylan on stage together.

BanglaDesh4The single, named after the new country was written by George and released three days before the Harrison-sponsored Concert for Bangladesh shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. the first-ever pop charity single fourteen years before Band Aid and USA for Africa.

BanglaDesh3The concerts were followed by a bestselling live album, a boxed three-record set, and Apple Films’ concert documentary, which opened in cinemas in the spring of 1972.

BanglaDesh6George had contacted John Lennon & Paul McCartney to perform at the show. Lennon initially agreed to take part in the concert without his wife and musical partner Yoko Ono, as Harrison had apparently stipulated.

ImagineJohn then allegedly had an argument with her as a result of this agreement and left New York in a rage two days before the concerts.

RamPaul declined to take part, however, citing the bad feelings caused by the Beatles’ legal problems on their break-up.


originalThe two Madison Square Garden shows raised US $243,418.50, which was given to UNICEF to administer on 12 August 1971 By December, Capitol Records presented a cheque to Apple Corps for around $3,750,000 for advance sales of the Concert for Bangladeh live album. By 1981, $8.8 million was added to that total

BanglaDeshIn the 1990s, Harrison said of the Bangladesh relief effort: “Now it’s all settled and the UN own the rights to it themselves, and I think there’s been about 45 million dollars made.” Sales of the DVD and CD of the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh continue to benefit the cause, now known as the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.