The Concert for Bangladesh was the first major benefit concert of its kind and paved the way for Live Aid, Farm Aid, Live 8 and the other rock benefit events that came later. The Concert for Bangladesh brought together an extraordinary group of major artists collaborating for a common humanitarian cause. Organized by George Harrison, the event sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City, generated millions of dollars for UNICEF and raised awareness for the organization and the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh around the world. The concert also resulted in a Grammy-winning triple-album box set and feature film.
To celebrate this groundbreaking concert, the Museum created a special exhibit with artifacts that include George Harrison’s original lyrics to the song “Bangla Desh,” Ravi Shankar’s sitar, a vest worn by Ringo Starr and more. The concert film is being shown in a theater adjacent to the exhibit.
The concerts – there were actually two concerts, both on August 1, 1971 – came about after Indian musician Ravi Shankar approached Harrison about the crisis in Bangladesh, where a brutal civil war had killed thousands of people and forced even more people into exile. In the end, Harrison assembled an all-star lineup that, in addition to himself and Ravi Shankar, included Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, the members of Badfinger and others.
“We as a band continually look forward, so it’s really fantastic that someone, especially the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, are looking backward to recognize the work we’ve done. I’m just really honored that they thought of us.”