The Beginning of the Benefit Concert

Every year it seems there is another benefit concert for someone or some cause that is close to a celebrity’s heart. We have had benefits for SARS, Aids,No nuke Benefits,Farm Aid, there was even one in 1976 called self-aid that was held in Dublin to address the chronic unemployment situation in Ireland at the time. There was the Concert for New York City that was held after 9/11 and Amnesty international continues to run benefit concerts to help their cause. Almost all the top musical acts of their generation have appeared at these shows to show their support for the causes, from Abba to ZZ Top and everyone in between have shown up at one time or another.

But at one time these type of shows were unheard of, at least until George Harrison got the ball rolling, The Concert For Bangladesh in August of 1971 was the biggest gathering of musicians to appear at a fund-raiser ever up till that point, the list of whom appeared is legendary and the movie that came out of it is still moving to see. Beside George Harrison there was Ringo Starr,Leon Russell,Bob Dylan,Eric Clapton,Ravi Shankar and Badfinger to name just a few. The soundtrack contains some of the best collaborations around and  Leon Russell electrified the Madison Square Garden crowd with his version of Jumping Jack Flash/Youngblood that still is considered one of the highlights of the 70’s. The concert raised almost $300,000, and the film and CD sales still makes money for the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF. As for the other two beatles that did not show up..John lennon was going to show but Harrison did not want Yoko and while Lennon was originally ok with that a few day’s before the show he changed his mind and headed to London while Paul McCartney  declined because of the bad feelings caused by The Beatles’ legal problems on their break-up. “George came up and asked if I wanted to play BanglaDesh and I thought, blimey, what’s the point? We’re just broken up and we’re joining up again? It just seemed a bit crazy,”

While the concert was considered a success and did indeed raise money but by 1985 despite having made over 12 million for the Bangladesh refugees most of it was still tied up by the American internal revenue service because the organizers had not filed the proper tax exempt papers.  You can read more about the Concert at this link  CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH 

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