History has shown that music has always been used as a way to help soldiers, an integral part of warfare, a means of communication and as a psychological weapon.
A strong connection has built among political sector and popular music on 1 August, 1971, when former Beatles George Harrison,Ravi Shankarand other musicians and singers rocked the stage in New York City's Madison Square Gardens for The Concert for Bangladesh, the first large concert event for a humanitarian cause.
Former Beatles' member George Harrison and Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar organised two benefit concertsat Madison Garden in New York on 1 August, 1971 in hope ofraising international awareness and funds for refugees of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
The shows, attended by a total of 40 thousand people,has changed the way the world viewed events.
Following the 1970'sBholacyclone which killed at least 500,000 people in Bangladesh and West Bengal, the 1971 Bangladesh genocide and Bangladesh Liberation War, George Harrison was inspired to organize TheConcert for Bangladesh.
Many countries around the world were not aware of the repression, genocide and torture of Pakistani army in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Millions of Bangladeshis left home to livewhile many ended up in refugee camps in neighboring India.
In this circumstance the concert showed the power of music which overshadows political powers.
I was in a very sad mood, having read all this news, and I said, "George, this is the situation, I know it doesn't concern you, I know you can't possibly identify." But while I talked to George he was very deeply moved ... and he said, "Yes, I think I'll be able to do something."
This concert has been marked in history for several reasons. Such event is the first in history where many talented and popular artists gathered to help a country for humanitarian cause.
Audiences standing in the crowd had witnessed how the musicians portrayed the difference between humanity and barbarism.The musicians urged to their fans to stand by the helpless, tortured people.
The Starting and the concert:
Ravi Shankar approached George Harrison of a concert that would highlight the misery of millions in Bangladesh as Shankar had family ties to then East Pakistan. Shankar's original hope was to raise $25,000.
Besides the duo, the concert had other legends including Ringo Starr, AllaRakha (also of Bangladesh origin), Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez.
My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies
Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives.
The lyrics of the title song — Bangla Desh — was written by Harrison himself.
The Concert for Bangladesh happened because of my relationship with Ravi ... I said, "If you want me to be involved, I think I'd better be really involved," so I started recruiting all these people.
The concert was first public performance by George Harrison after leaving The Beatles.
Furthermore, it was also Eric Clapton's first performance after his tour with Derek and the Dominos.
Bob Dylan made his first appearance onstage since August 1969 and did not appear live again until January 1974.
Funds and aftermath:
The Concert for Bangladesh is recognised as highly successful and influential humanitarian aid project. The show gathered both awareness and funds as well as providing valuable lessons and inspiration for projects that followed, such as Live Aid.
The two Madison Square Garden shows raised US$243,418.50, which was administered by Unicef.
By December, Capitol Records, an American record label owned by Universal Music Grouppresented a cheque to Apple Corps, a multi-armed multimedia corporation founded in London for around $3,750,000 for advance sales of The Concert for Bangladesh live album.
By 1985, through revenue raised from The Concert for Bangladesh live album and film, an estimated $12 million had been sent to Bangladesh.
Harrison, speaking in the 1990s said, "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 live album and DVD release of the film continued benefiting the cause, now known as the George Harrison Fund for Unicef.