Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Concert for Bangladesh, the three-LP set that featured highlights from two star-studded benefit shows headlined by George Harrison at New York’s Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971.
The show and album also included performances by Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ravi Shakar and many other musicians.
The shows were organized by Harrison and his friend and musical mentor Shankar to raise awareness about, and funds for, refugees from the Pakistani region of East Pakistan during the brutal war that led to the creation of the nation of Bangladesh.
The concerts marked the first time Harrison had performed a full concert since The Beatles stopped touring in 1966.
The shows began with classical Indian music performance by Shankar and his group. Harrison then took the stage with a huge collective of musicians that included Clapton, Russell, Preston, Starr, drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Klauss Voormann, the members of Badfinger, a horn section and various backing singers.
Harrison played select songs from his 1970 album All Things Must Pass and several Beatles tunes, including a version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that featured a guitar duel with Clapton.
Russell sang a medley of The Rolling Stones‘ “Jumping Jack Flash” and The Coasters‘ “Youngblood,” while Ringo performed his solo hit “It Don’t Come Easy.”
Dylan played a short set showcasing several of his classic songs.
The concerts ended with a performance of the new Harrison song “Bangla Desh,” which he’d released as a charity single in July 1971.
The album reached #2 on the Billboard 200, and topped the U.K. chart. Between the shows, the album and a 1972 concert film, millions of dollars were raised.
Here’s the full track list for The Concert for Bangladesh:
“George Harrison/Ravi Shankar Introduction”
“Bangla Dhun” — Ravi Shankar
“Wah-Wah” — George Harrison
“My Sweet Lord” — George Harrison
“Awaiting on You All” — George Harrison
“That’s the Way God Planned It” — Billy Preston
“It Don’t Come Easy” — Ringo Starr
“Beware of Darkness” — George Harrison, Leon Russell
“Band Introduction” — George Harrison
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” — George Harrison
“Medley: Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Young Blood” — Leon Russell
“Here Comes the Sun” — George Harrison
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” — Bob Dylan
“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” — Bob Dylan
“Blowin’ in the Wind” — Bob Dylan
“Mr. Tambourine Man” — Bob Dylan
“Just Like a Woman” — Bob Dylan
“Something” — George Harrison
“Bangla Desh” — George Harrison
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