George Harrison’s ‘Concert For Bangladesh’ was a turning point in popular culture, marking the first star-studded charity event which would go on and set a precedent for future charitable concerts. With the great and good of music all coming together to shine a light on a more than worthy cause, it all originated from the former Beatles guitarist’s original initiative where Bob Dylan well and truly stole the show.
The two very specially curated Concert For Bangladesh shows on August 1st, 1971, would go on and set a precedent for benefit gigs forever. The all-star day would see the likes of Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Badfinger and Ringo Starr all take to the stage to unite for a cause bigger than themselves.
The shows came about after the former Beatles man held discussions his close friend Ravi Shankar who, detailing issues during a dinner meeting, initially planned to raise $25,000 dollars to help the Bangladeshi cause. However, after getting Harrison on his side, the modest plans quickly grew into something rather extraordinary.
There was great two-way respect between Harrison and Dylan, both on a personal level as well as on a more professional basis where they looked up to each other’s art for inspiration. In an interview with Melody Maker in 1975, Harrison said: “Bob Dylan is the most consistent artist there is. Even his stuff which people loathe, I like.”
Harrison then went on to heap even more praise on to his contemporary, adding: “Every single thing he does represents something that’s him. He may write better songs tomorrow, sing high on this album and low on another, go electric or acoustic, go weird or whatever, but the basic thing that causes all this change is an incredible character named Bob Dylan.
“He’s the looniest person I know,” he concluded.
The duo would, of course, go on to form The Travelling Wilbury’s together in 1988. However, in 1990 once the band disbanded, Harrison and Dylan would unfortunately never get the opportunity to share the stage together again.
Following Harrison’s passing, with Dylan unable to make a tribute concert dedicated, he instead sang his own version of ‘Something’ which at his New York tour show, telling the East Coast crowd: “I just want to do this song for George, because we were such good buddies.”
Dylan taking time from his busy schedule to help out a friend who needed someone of his profile to appear at the concert following his old band refusing to reunite for the occasion but that wasn’t necessary as Harrison had acquired a fine bill already with Bob Dylan’s afternoon performance of ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’ being the cream of the crop and one for the ages.
Check out the rare footage of his performance, below.