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It Was 50 Years Ago Today – Concert For Bangla Desh!

It Was 50 Years Ago Today – Concert For Bangla Desh!

It Was 50 Years Ago Today – Concert For Bangla Desh!
August 01
10:48 2021

This week, George’s All Things Must Pass gets its 50th Anniversary Deluxe treatment on both CD & Vinyl, and we can’t wait for it. He never toured for the album, which has become the most successful of all Beatles solo albums. But 8 months later he had the opportunity to show off many of the songs on only one stage…and I was there!

The Concert For Bangla Desh Concert was held at Madison Square Garden 50 years ago, today, August 1,1971. I was there and it was the most memorable concert I ever attended. So, here is my story, retold here to honor this historic musical event and just how important George’s contribution continues to be. Shown in the photo above, is George, Klaus Voormann, Jesse Ed Davis, and Eric Clapton.

I was on vacation tooling around the West Coast with my friend Bob. Our return flight was the red eye to get back on Monday morning, Aug 2, 1971. Somewhere between the Grand Canyon, Zion, The Hoover Dam, Yosemite, Big Sur, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more, we first heard George’s new single Bangla Desh. It wasn’t much longer until we learned of the planned concert. A friend back in NJ got me a ticket and we switched our flight  (this was easy to do 50 years ago) to the red eye on Saturday night, getting home in time to make it to Madison Square Garden for the afternoon concert.

On 8/1/71, I attended the afternoon Concert For Bangla Desh at Madison Square Garden in NYC. To this day it is still up there as one of the greatest concerts EVER! It became the blueprint for all future benefit concerts. And to think it was George Harrison who put it all together for his friend Ravi Shankar. The complete line up was not known, even to George, but both Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton did show up and the music blew us all away. Leaving the Garden at the end of the show, we were all mesmerized and amazed at what we had witnessed, to the point that the deluge of rain awaiting us outside didn’t seem to bother anyone. I predicted it would win a Grammy for Album of the Year. Well, because of all the quarreling between Capitol and Columbia Records, it did not get released until December 20, 1971, making it eligible for 1972 not 1971. It did indeed win that Grammy, but had it been released more timely, it likely would not have won as Carole King’s Tapestry was the clear album of the year. Timing is everything. So the brilliantly packaged three record set arrived at the Sam Goody Store I managed (Paramus, NJ) at 3PM to a store full of fans waiting for them. Al Sussman also worked there and was an eyewitness to the excitement in the store that day! We couldn’t get them off the truck fast enough and the line was out the door! We sold 256 copies that afternoon and evening and was the biggest one day total of an album sold in the 5 years I worked there!

Thank you George, all these years later for a lifetime of memories from one event. The Concert is currently unavailable in any format, but my guess is it will be in the future.

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Source: It Was 50 Years Ago Today – Concert For Bangla Desh!

About Author

Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

Martin A Nethercutt is a writer, singer, producer and loves music. Creative Director at McCartney Studios Editor-in-Chief at McCartney Times Creator-in-Chief at Geist Musik President (title) at McCartney Multimedia, Inc. Went to Albert-Schweitzer-Schule Kassel Lives in Playa del Rey From Kassel, Germany Married to Ruth McCartney

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