August 1, 2011 40th anniversary of George Harrison and Friends “The Concert for Bangladesh.”
George Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh album has made its digital debut exclusively on iTunes, it was announced by Apple Records Inc. on July 26, 2011.
The label’s statement celebrates the anniversary and acknowledges Harrison’s legacy of giving back, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today implements a special ‘Month of Giving’ donation campaign in August for the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF, helping to provide emergency relief for children in famine and drought-stricken regions in the Horn of Africa. All after-tax proceeds from sales of The Concert for Bangladesh album on iTunes will directly benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF. iTunes, Apple Records Inc., and all artists, songwriters and publishers associated with the concert will keep no income from each sale and have waived all fees.
The iTunes release of The Concert for Bangladesh album includes Harrison’s
“Bangladesh” studio single, originally released July 5, 1971, as an exclusive bonus track. A 5-minute video trailer for the album and a 49-minute radio program about The Concert for Bangladesh songs are also now available as free streams on iTunes.
In a worldwide, 72-hour online event, The Concert for Bangladesh feature film will be available for free streaming in its entirety from Saturday, July 30 through Monday, August 1 on iTunes, georgeharrison.com and theconcertforbangladesh.com.
When George Harrison was questioned in 1971 why he chose to focus his time and talents on The Concert for Bangladesh, he replied, “Because I was asked by a friend if I would help, that’s all.”
Monday, August 1 marks 40 years since Harrison and his friend Ravi Shankar, along with several other top music stars, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, and Billy Preston, shared the stage at Madison Square Garden for two history-making concerts to alert the world to the plight of the Bangladeshi people, victims of simultaneous floods, famine and civil war.
The legendary Concert for Bangladesh and its award-winning double album and feature film releases have since inspired other major, entertainment-led charitable initiatives, including Bob Geldof’s LIVE AID and LIVE8, Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid, and Hope For Haiti Now.
During the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF’s Month of Giving in August, all donations to the Fund will benefit UNICEF’s life-saving programs for children in the Horn of Africa. To jump start this fundraising initiative, the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF is immediately releasing $1 million to UNICEF for emergency efforts in the Horn of Africa.
The Horn of Africa is facing what is being called the worst drought in 60 years, and famine has been declared by the United Nations in two regions of southern Somalia. More than 2 million children are acutely malnourished, including half a million children who are at imminent risk of death if they do not receive immediate lifesaving assistance.
“Forty years ago this August, the friendship between George Harrison and Ravi Shankar forever changed music and the lives of countless Bangladeshi children. Today millions of children in the Horn of Africa desperately need our help. We are humbled by the outpouring of support from the music community led by Olivia Harrison, Apple Records and our friends at iTunes,” said President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern.
States Ravi Shankar, “I’m so moved that this concert, which emerged from my close friendship with George, is regarded as historically significant 40 years on and continues to inspire musicians of all generations.”
Apple Records also offers a brief video message with information about how to help is available for streaming on georgeharrisonfundforunicef.org and on iTunes. In the U.S., supporters can text FRIEND to UNICEF (864233) to give $10 to the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF (messaging and data rates apply), or visit theconcertforbangladesh.com to donate and learn more.
August 1, 2011 is the 40th anniversary of two landmark benefit concerts that nearly 40,000 attended at Madison Square Garden in New York City on August 1, 1971 featuring George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, Bad Finger, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr, among others.
It was in Los Angeles earlier that summer of ’71 when Harrison was alerted to the scale of suffering his friend and sitar teacher Shankar was feeling about the struggle for independence from the ten million East Pakistanis refugees who fled over the border from West Pakistan to neighboring India to escape mass starvation, hunger, and death. Nearly three million people were killed. The dilemma and crisis was deepened when the 1970 Bhola cyclone and floods hit the region. At that moment, very little monies and help were made available from foreign governments.
Harrison then organized two relief of refugees charity concerts while composing, recording and releasing a studio single, “Bangladesh,” that was available just before the heralded affair.
At the performances, Harrison and his karmic pals offered stellar renditions of “Wah-Wah,” “Here Comes The Sun,” “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “My Sweet Lord, “Just Like A Woman.” “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
Production Coordination was Jon Taplin, Steve Lieber and Allan Steckler. Staging and lighting courtesy of Chip Monck Enterprises and Bruce De Forrest.
The two concerts on 1 August 1971 were successful, garnering U.S. venue proceeds for $243,418.50 donated to UNICEF while also raising awareness and visibility for the organization around the world.
The shows were recorded by Phil Spector and engineer Gary Kellgren with the music produced by Spector and George Harrison.
Saul Swimmer directed the Harrison-led movie who had served as co-producer of the Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans-produced Beatles documentary “Let It Be” in 1970.
“The Concert for Bangladesh” (originally titled “The Concert for Bangladesh”) initially was a live triple album commercially released in retail outlets just before Christmas in 1971 in the U.S. and after New Year’s Day 1972 in the U.K.
It immediately became a bestseller, landing at #2 for several weeks in the U.S. charts and becoming George Harrison’s second #1 U.K. album.
The multi-disc set won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year of 1972 for music producers Harrison and Phil Spector.
Allegedly, an additional 15 million was also earned from the “Concert for Bangladesh” album and film profits by the early-mid-70s. However, those funds reportedly were held in an Internal Revenue Service escrow account for years owing to the concert organizers having not applied for tax-exempt status.
Eventually millions of dollars were given to UNICEF who distributed milk, blankets and clothing to refugees.
George Harrison set up his own charity foundation, The George Harrison Fund For UNICEF, after he became frustrated with red tape and bureaucracies that had slowed down the process of spreading monies intended for recipients.
The George Harrison Fund for UNICEF is a joint undertaking between the Harrison family and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support UNICEF programs that provide lifesaving assistance to children, including health, education, nutrition and emergency relief. In the tradition established by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, The George Harrison Fund for UNICEF continues to support UNICEF programs in Bangladesh while expanding its influence to include other countries where children are in need.
Apple Corps/Capitol in autumn 2005 released “The Concert for Bangladesh-George Harrison and friends” on DVD and CD to celebrate the 35th anniversary of this collaborative event.
In October of 2005, the 2-DVD package was issued by Apple Corps/Rhino and the expanded 2-CD set by Apple Corps/Capitol. The DVD includes the original 99-minute film restored and remixed in 5.1, as well as 72-minutes of extras.
There is also previously unseen footage: “If Not For You,” with George and Bob Dylan from rehearsals, “Come On In My Kitchen” featuring George, Eric Clapton and Leon Russell at the sound check and a Bob Dylan performance from the afternoon show of “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” not included in the original film.
The extras feature a 45-minute documentary “The Concert For Bangladesh Revisited with George Harrison and friends,” about the background to the event with exclusive interviews and contributions from Sir Bob Geldof, and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who stated, “George and his friends were pioneers.”
In the well-received documentary, Leon Russell reflected, “It was just one high level of experience from beginning to end.” While Eric Clapton readily admitted, “This will always be remembered as a time that we could be proud of being musicians. We just weren’t thinking of ourselves for five minutes.” Added Ringo Starr, “The beauty of the event came across and the audience was so great.”
The album of the concert has been remixed and repackaged, and contains an additional track of Bob Dylan performing “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.”
The Concert for Bangladesh was one of the first benefit concerts, along with the earlier 1967 Lou Adler and John Phillips produced Monterey International Pop Festival non-profit venture, that brought together an extraordinary assemblage of major artists collaborating for a common humanitarian cause – setting the precedent that music could be used to serve a higher cause.
The Concert for Bangladesh has been the inspiration and forerunner to the major global fundraising events of recent years proceeding Live Aid by 14 years.
All artists’ royalties from the sales of the DVD and the CD edition continue to go to UNICEF.
George Harrison and master sitar musician Ravi Shankar met in early summer of 1971 in Los Angeles, California where they birthed the idea for The Concert For Bangladesh.
“I told George and George wanted to help me,” Shankar explained to me in his San Diego, California area home in a 1997 interview published in “HITS” Magazine. “The film ‘Raga’ was ready and it needed some finishing in which George helped. It was released, I believe, in 1972.
“There are many other people who could do what George does, but they don’t have that depth. He’s so unusual,” said Shankar. “What has clicked between him and me, what he gets from me, and what I get from him, that love and that respect and understanding from music and everything, is really the most important thing. It’s not the money, or he helping me to record, that’s not the main thing. But it’s the very special bond between both of us.”
Shankar lived in Los Angeles in 1971. “I had a house on Highland Ave. A beautiful Spanish villa and at that time. George was in town, and at that time I was planning to do a benefit concert for Bangladesh, because I was very hurt that this whole thing was going on. To help this refugee problem, I wanted to raise some money. Everybody, every Indian, was thinking about doing that. And then, when I thought about it, I knew I could do more than any other Indian musician. Still, how much can you send? $20,000? $25,000, at the most?
“At this time of turmoil I was having, George was there,” reinforced Ravi in our “HITS” conversation. “He came to meet me and I was sitting. He saw me. From 1966, whenever he came to town, we would meet. At that time, he was staying in L.A. for a couple of weeks. I told him what I was planning. You know, it’s like a drop in the ocean. At the same time, I never wanted to take advantage of him. I did not want to say, ‘Would you help me?’ But, somehow, it came very naturally. He was so sympathetic. ‘Well…let’s do something.’ And you know that made me feel so happy. George is a very rare person…it is something so special. What he did, he immediately started phoning and booking things up. He phoned and got Madison Square Garden.
“Later, he contacted Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston and a few of his friends. Somehow, it was done. Within three weeks or so, we gave a performance and it was sold out. So, they had to schedule a matinee. As you know, the first half was me. I called my guru’s son Ali Akbar Khan who plays the sarod. We were the first part. I composed the first lines for the items played as we always do and we improvised. And then intermission. There was no clapping when we were tuning, which is seen in the film and the people were so well-behaved. A lot of matches. It went beautifully.”
Shankar, even in 1997, was still amazed at the throng who hailed George Harrison and friends.
“It was a young audience, especially because I had this existing audience already, who were mature listeners and who had come to Carnegie Hall. This audience was the same type of audience as the Monterey Pop Festival, but they were very attentive and there was no problem at all. After our segment, I went to see the second half. Their program was very complimentary, because they chose the numbers that were very soulful in the sense that they weren’t hard rock. ‘My Sweet Lord,’ ‘That’s The Way God Planned It.’ Bob Dylan had his harmonica and did ballads. George sang ‘Here Comes The Sun,’ and the song he composed ‘Bangladesh.’ There was harmony and it wasn’t so different. It went off beautifully. The soundtrack won a Grammy (for Best Album of 1972).”
“Really, it was Ravi Shankar’s idea,” answered Harrison in a press conference in July 1971. “He wanted to do something like this and was telling me about his concern and asking me if I had any suggestions, Then after an hour he talked me into being on the show. It was a question really of phoning the friends that I knew and seeing who was available to turn up. I spent one month, the month of June and half of July just telephoning people.”
In the mid ‘70s when I was a weekly music reporter for “Melody Maker,” Harrison personally fixed me up to attend a Ravi Shankar recital and earlier sound check at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood when George was proudly showcasing his special Dark Horse Records/A&M label artist.
In an interview arranged for me in 1997 and published in “HITS,” Harrison recollected about his initial meeting with Ravi Shankar in 1966 at a dinner party for the North London Asian Music Circle.
“His music was the reason I wanted to meet him. I liked it immediately, it intrigued me. I don’t know why I was so into it — I heard it, I liked it, and I had a gut feeling that I would meet him. Eventually a man from the Asian Music Circle in London arranged a meeting between Ravi and myself. Our meeting has made all the difference in my life.”
Harrison had first heard the sitar on the set of The Beatles’ movie “Help!” Later that same year, he would record with the instrument on John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” Subsequently, Harrison integrated the sitar into his own composition “Love You To” for the Beatles’ “Revolver” album. He fused sitar and Indian influences on his selection “Within You Without You,” on the influential “Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album and also on “The Inner Light,” the obscure B-side to the “Lady Madonna” single.
Harrison further commented about his own sitar playing.
“I’m not a very good one, I’m afraid. The sitar is an instrument I’ve loved for a long time. For three or four years I practiced on it every day. But it’s a very difficult instrument, and one that takes a toll on you physically. It even takes a year to just learn how to properly hold it. But I enjoyed playing it, even the punishing side of it, because it disciplined me so much, which was something I hadn’t really experienced to a great extent before.”
Harrison went on to describe his earliest attempt at playing the sitar with the Beatles, “Very rudimentary. I didn’t know how to tune it properly, and it was a very cheap sitar to begin with. So ‘Norwegian Wood’ was very much an early experiment. By the time we recorded ‘Love You To’ I had made some strides.”
Harrison put his sitar experiments with the Beatles in perspective,
“That was the environment in the band, everybody was very open to bringing in new ideas. We were listening to all sorts of things, Stockhausen, avante-garde music, whatever, and most of it made its way onto our records.”
Robindra Shankar, sitar player, was born in Benares, United Province, (now Varanasi, India) on April 7, 1920.
In 1949 he became Music Director of All-India Radio and founded the Vadya Vrinda Chamber Orchestra.
Shankar bridged India’s two distinct music styles and traditions in the modern performance of Indian classical music. The Karnatak and the Hindustani that mirrored the country’s northern and southern cultures. This fusion continued the oral memory journey and fused Western classical music with improvisation based upon melodic forms and rhythmic circles
Sahankar has produced well-received soundtracks in both East and West, including “Kabuliwala” in 1956, for which he was named Best Film Music Director at the 1957 Berlin Film Festival.
In 1966, Shankar played the first sitar-violin duet with Yheudi Menuhin at the Bath Festival and, the following year, he reprised the collaboration at the United Nations as a centerpiece of the Human Rights Day celebrations.
Shankar also contributed to Ralph Nelson’s Oscar-winning “Charly” in 1968 and, later, Shankar received an Academy Award nomination for his music in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi.” He has also recorded with conductors Andre Previn and Zubin Mehta.
Shankar has carried the torch for the 19-stringed sitar since 1950 and hailed as “the godfather of World Music” by Harrison.
In a 2002 “Goldmine” Magazine interview I conducted with drummer/percussionist Jim Keltner, he reminisced about participating in The Concert for Bangladesh and his then 30-year recording relationship and friendship with Harrison and record producer, Phil Spector.
I talked to Jim Keltner one evening over dinner at his home in Los Angeles.
Keltner worked on the Spector-produced John Lennon “Imagine” album, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and John’s “Rock and Roll” LP. Jim also appears on George Harrison’s “Living In A Material World.”
“I was staying at Eric Clapton’s and the phone rang early one morning I picked it up since I was the only one awake. It was Phil Spector. He asked if I wanted to come down and play. So I said ‘sure.’ I borrowed a drum set from Colin Allen who was in a band, Stone The Crows. We became good friends and he helped me out a lot in those days. The first song we did that night was ‘Jealous Guy.’ George (Harrison) was there as well. We did ‘Don’t Want To Be A Soldier’ next. Playing on ‘Jealous Guy’ was one of those moments when you feel you are in a dream, especially later during playback in a room with John, Yoko, George, Phil Spector, Klaus Voorman and Nicky Hopkins all listening.”
For the two Bangladesh shows at Madison Square Garden, Keltner is double drumming with Starr.
Ringo Starr was asked by George to play and accepted on the condition “but only if Keltner will do it with me.”
Starr hadn’t played in front of an audience in a while, either. Keltner was asked to participate and he replied, “of course, but I want to stay out of his way.”
The drum duo had to work out some things at sound check, including the decision for Keltner not to employ his hi hat cymbal much and emulate Levon Helm of the Band. Levon had a technique Keltner had had seen where he’d pull the hand off the hi hat for the two and four, so that it didn’t come down with the backbeat at the same time. And that enabled Keltner in getting out of Ringo’s way on that fabled bandstand.
“Ringo was a little on edge,” volunteered Jim. “He didn’t fancy playing alone and was kinda unsure about his playing. Which is amazing if you think about it. One of rock’s all-time great drummers. All you have to do is listen to the Beatles records, of course, especially, the ‘Live at the BBC.’ Rock and roll drumming doesn’t get any better than that. Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Gary Chester, Fred Below, David ‘Panama’ Francis, great early rock and R&B drummers, and Ringo fit right in there with those guys. Listen to the ‘BBC’ tapes and you’ll hear what I’m saying. Playing on Bangladesh was a really big deal for me. I made sure to stay completely out of Ringo’s way and just played the bare minimum.
After the earthquake in February of 1971 in Los Angeles, I told my wife, ‘Get the kids together and get on over here.’ We were there at a flat in Chelsea for a couple of months. During that time, George introduced me to Ringo and I played maracas on the single he produced for Ringo Starr at Trident Studio, ‘It Don’t Come easy.’”
“I remember loving the sound of the Garden. I heard Phil’s voice over the speakers, but never really saw him at the actual show, except during sound check. He was in the Record Plant (recording) truck.
“Phil had his hands full and did a remarkable job if you really think about it. Horns, multiple singers, double drums, lots of guitars. That was his forte, so he wasn’t intimidated by two drummers and 14 background singers. On Bangladesh, George was very lucky to have had Phil on that set,” reinforced Jim.
In my book “This Is Rebel Music,” Keltner proclaimed, “George was absolutely focused and fantastic as a leader. Of course he had Leon (Russell) in his band. And Leon helped with the arranging and all. I remember that everything seemed to be fine at the sound check and that I didn’t have too many concerns. When we started playing with the audience in the room it really did come alive. George seemed very powerful that night.”
Delaney & Bonnie’s 1969 debut LP, “Accept No Substitute” made a big impression on both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. David Anderle had witnessed this white soul outfit gigging in West L.A. and brought them to Elektra Records to supervise their memorable album produced by Delaney Bramlett. Billy Mundi and Jeff Simmons, during their Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention employ auditioned for the band as well as Duane Allman. George Harrison had tried to sign Delaney & Bonnie to Apple Records in the U.K.
“Leon is all over that,” reiterates Keltner. “His piano playing on the ‘The Ghetto’ is the greatest. No one else can do that. When I got to know John (Lennon) he told me he liked the Delaney & Bonnie and Friends ‘Accept No Substitute’ album,’ recalled Keltner.
In our 2002 dinner table talk, Keltner further regaled about Delaney & Bonnie and the Concert for Bangladesh. “Leon Russell made it great to be there. I had played with Leon on quite a lot of stuff: Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Leon played on a lot of Phil’s great records.”
In my 2009 book, “Canyon of Dreams The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon,” Keltner raved about his stint with Delaney & Bonnie. “We were doing a whole new soul thing that wasn’t Stax,” stressed Keltner. “We cut it at Elektra Studios on La Cienega. Leon Russell and Delaney Bramlett gave me a lot of confidence that I could play rock ’n’ roll, coming from jazz. And I was with my good friends Bobby Keys (sax player) and Carl Radle (bass player). Bonnie wasn’t doing Janis Joplin or Tina Turner. She was doing more of a hillbilly, gospel, blue-eyed soul kind of thing.”
The late bass player Carl Radle played on the Leon Russell portion of Bangladesh.
“Carl was one of my closest friends,” lamented Keltner. “James Jamerson, Paul McCartney and Carl Radle- I always thought were the guvs. Carl was the first bass player I started playing rock and roll with. The good fortune and luck of that?
“Bangladesh was a great little reunion. They loved playing with Ringo and me. Klaus Voorman was the principal bass player on Bangladesh. Phil loved the way Klaus played. He had a great way of stretching the time. Klaus is one of the greatest bass players I’ve ever played with. His playing was always just exactly right for the song. He didn’t have that much in the way of chops but he made up for that with his great musical sense.”
Guitarist Jesse Ed Davis is also seen and heard during Bangla desh. Davis worked with Keltner and Spector on the concerts, as well as Lennon’s “Rock and Roll” album. “Jesse Ed was the only guitar player who ever made me cry,” revealed Jim.
Chip Moncks was an essential part of the Bangladesh collaboration. Edward Herbert Beresford Monck was born on March 5, 1939 in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
The Monck production and stage lighting design credits are the blueprint of today’s arena and outdoor festival models. He began at The Village Gate learning his craft around Nina Simone and later behind the board for the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival from 1959-1966 and manned the lighting booth at the Newport (Rhode Island) Jazz Festival in the same period.
“Albert Grossman had inserted me into the First Newport Folk Festival and again in 1959, as we both were very interested in Joni (Baez). So I had had seven years to grow my trade with George Wein. A hard taskmaster financially, but a delightful host.”
In 1967 Monk oversaw all aspects of light and sound fusion for three days at The Monterey International Pop Festival.
Chip then constructed the Fillmore East music venue for promoter Bill Graham as a 2,800 seat that was once Lowes Commodore movie house. Monck built a contemporary music house, including extended apron, installation of wagon system, full lighting installation design, installation and operation and design of full house fly system. In San Francisco, he helped build and develop the same illuminating world for Graham and the Fillmore West, the former Carousel Ballroom.
Monck was later at the Woodstock Music & Art Festival, where he designed the lighting and also served as master of Ceremonies in the 3 day slop affair.
In 1971 Chip did the lights for Stephen Stills solo tour and The Concert For Bangladesh.
Monck also earned a Tony Award nomination for the New York premier of “The Rocky Horror Show.” His 1971-72 credits are the “One To One” concert with John Lennon & Yoko Ono, and the 1972 Rolling Stones’ tour that resulted in the movie “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones.”
Monck worked with Bette Midler on her “Divine Madness” Majestic Theatre, Broadway run where he received a Tony Award nomination for Lighting Design as well as lighting design on Broadway for both the American debut of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood and the Belasco Theatre in New York, where he received a Tony Award nomination for Lighting Design.
In the 1970s, Monck was the production designer and line producer for the festival music concert around the Muhammad Ali/George Foreman boxing match in Kinshasha, Zaire, Africa. Chip did the production design and was production coordinator of Carole King in Central Park and Procol Harum at the Hollywood Bowl.
During the 1980s, Monk for three years was Director of Production for United Production Services in Los Angeles, designing and/or providing staging equipment, roofs, and scenics for trade presentations, major events and artists including: 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson, George Michaels, the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Pope John Paul’s Paul II’s pastoral visit to Los Angeles, David Bowie’s “Glass Spider” tour and Frank Sinatra in Atlantic City.
Over the last 40 years Monck has been a consultant for Altman Stage Lighting Company.
In 2004 he received a Lifetime Achievement award at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca.
Now based in Melbourne, Australia, and running Primera Enterprises, E.H.B. “Chipmonck” is developing with Lyndel Moore the production of the One Great Night On Earth Festival. This endeavor will help raise funds to help Australians whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by environmental disaster.
In a telephone interview from Australia, Chip Monck discussed his lighting concepts and the techniques he employed at the monumental Bangladesh celebration.
“If I remember correctly, Stephen Stills was a night or two before,” recalled Monck. “Guess who left the lighting in and who paid for it? Stephen. Never got a thank you. I did a whole tour with Stephen and really enjoyed him excessively. We had all sorts of fun. He knew who he was and how well he wrote. He was broken hearted over Judy Collins and that produced some wonderful songs.
“I got the Bangladesh gig because it was my equipment and it was up there. I don’t even remember if I got paid. Stills gave the rig to Bangladesh. And obviously I came along with it.
“I never met Phil Spector at Bangladesh,. I didn’t speak to George Harrison. You can not chat around while there is a crew of 40 waiting. It is not a good idea.
“It was George Harrison and Friends. The pre-production at gig? I was at the unveiling of Derek and the Dominoes. I never bothered to meet anyone at the Fillmore with the exception of Alvin Lee and Marc Bolan, who I absolutely adored. Because they were so human. I never bothered to shake anybody’s hand.
“When you come right down to it the light has to come from the right place. As a designer you only have three things. You have color angle and intensity. The other thing that is golden that will make you either famous or infamous will be your timing and your execution. You can’t do any of these things to any of these acts unless the absolute gut is there and the gut is the music.
“I am there to help,” Chip underlines. “Put my three fingers under the elbow as they cross the street. You take anything you can and you amplify it, you enhance it you have to figure out where it comes from and where it’s going. Because it isn’t just an instance. It’s flowing, right? You have to be moderately aware about how you do your choices and you have to always have somewhere else to go, Once you’ve gone into white for the last two numbers you know you’ve got no where else to go.
“You do it terribly subtlety. You don’t take something that has existed for eons and try and either re-color or tweak it. It is what it is and it will sit very well because it has been done anywhere and everywhere without lights.
“I knew some of the people from the Monterey International Pop Festival like Ravi Shankar. A few of the Hollywood Horns (Lou McCreary, Chuck Findley) had been at Monterey Pop.
“I didn’t notice George being nervous or uncomfortable. That magnificent white Nudie suit on George during ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” In my head I match the visuals along with the audio. But I knew Eric was obviously having a bit of a tough time at Bangladesh.”
Monck also revealed some of his techniques and concerns about the gig and his lighting rig.
“In lighting the singer songwriter there is a very systematical way of doing it. You are embedded in the melodic line and the lyric line. The eye delights in change if it is appropriate. You have two things that guide you. Melodic line and lyric line. And then you have the positions and the intensity and the interest of those who are not playing during somebody’s else more prominent solo. And then the only thing that is gonna confuse you is where is that person if they are exceptional movable. Like Mick Jagger.
“There were three G.W. Galloway Towers. They were three hydraulic rams, one center one left one right. They were very good. My theory and modus operandi in lighting is four times back light than there is front light. Sidelight never meant a great deal to me. I rediscovered sidelight when working with Neil Young.
“If you happen to have black skin I strongly suggest you don’t wear white. It’s a delightful thing on the street but what’s gonna register to the camera when you squint your eyes? Your head disappears and your suit is brilliant. Try and think a little further ahead. The Garden was an easy place to work.
“Lighting Ravi had to be done in a very tender fashion. There’s not a light change that you can embellish Shankar with except appropriate illumination. That goes for (Ustad) Ali Akbar Khan on sarod, Ustad Alla Rakha, tabla, with Kamala (Chakravarty) on tamboura. And when you have a 4 or 6 color palate the reason that non-automated lighting is still beautiful is because the designer can take you through a whole trip in a change of color rather than skip. That whole misty smoky change you can draw that out as long as you want. It becomes exciting.”
At his Bangladesh job, Chip Monck also survived the directives and self-induced theatrical demands of ABKCO ringmaster Allen Klein.
“I always appreciated Allen Klein,” remarked Chip. “He was a control freak. For the first show nothing seemed to go wrong and I palled around with Allen for a little while. He had a problem with his right leg and had a cane. By the second show, ‘It Don’t Come Easy,’ Allen said ‘Put all the lights on Ringo! Put all the lights on Ringo!’ and he starts rapping me over the head with his fuckin’ cane. There are other people playing. Stop beating me.
“I’m a mildly distraught about this. I have three thoughts: Fuck him or put the lights on Ringo or hand him the headset and walk out of the building. So I do nothing, And I just continue with what I planed to do and there was enough light on Ringo if you had the right film stock get up close to him and take a peak. There’s plenty of backlight on him and get him on a side shot. Don’t expect two drummers, when one of which is Keltner, one of which is Ringo. Why is he everything to go on Ringo? It isn’t making sense to me.”
Henry Diltz, a photographer and musician, is a founding member of The Modern Folk Quartet.
Diltz began taking pictures at age 27 with a Pony, a defective $20 second-hand Japanese camera purchased on tour (East Lansing, Michigan) with the MFQ in March 1966.
When MFQ disbanded for a while, Diltz embarked on his photographic career with his first work for The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Henry’s work has been published in “MOJO,” “Rolling Stone,” “LIFE,” “Cash Box, UNCUT,” “Guitar World,” “The New York Times,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Newsweek” and “People.”
In 2007, Genesis Publications published a signed limited edition and highly prized collection of Diltz’s photography, “California Dreaming.” (Memories & Visions of LA: 1966-75. The volume incorporates 500 photographs and a 96,000-word text.
A Diltz-snapped photo of George Harrison graces the cover of the 2005 “Concert For Bangladesh” CD/DVD package, courtesy of a favor Chip Monck did for him in August 1971.
“I knew Chip Monck in 1962 or ’63 in Daytona Beach, Florida when the MFQ were singing for the Ford Motor Company,” remembers Henry. “Chip was doing the staging. I then saw him at the ’67 Monterey International Pop Festival where he did the staging and lighting, then the Miami Pop Festival where he did the same and Woodstock in August of ’69. Chip called me for Woodstock. He got Michael Lang to hire me.
“Then, in 1970, I went to England with Stephen Stills for 3 months and lived at his house. One day Stephen said, ‘we’re gonna fly to Amsterdam and talk to Chip Monck about doing my concert at Madison Square Garden in late July ’71.’ We flew to a Rolling Stones’ concert in Amsterdam so he could talk to Chip.
Stephen eventually did the concert at Madison Square Garden. Right afterward, Chip says. ‘Henry, you ought to stick around because tomorrow is this great big George Harrison charity concert.
“’Well…Chip I don’t know the Beatles or Allen Klein. How am I gonna get a photo pass?’
“’Well, don’t worry, I will give you a crew pass and you come in the afternoon and hide your cameras under my lighting board at the side of the stage…”
“So I did that. I was at the soundcheck, I did not leave the perch but walked around with a crew pass so I was golden. I could not have a camera in my hand. I noticed Allen Klein sitting in the audience just up the side in the bleachers with couple of chauffer goon type guys. He had a cane and I saw him point his cane to someone on the floor. ‘Whose that guy? Get him out! And these goons went down and escorted whoever that was out. Someone with a camera. Very tight security. I could not get kicked out. I watched the rehearsal.
“I already had been at Woodstock, let alone Monterey, I got the sense something monumental was bring brewed up by important people in the music industry. Not the people I was hanging out with. I was there and watching. Sound check was kind of boring.
“The show was amazing. I was in the wings. Now, here is the funny thing. Generally the lighting board is way out in the audience. But the board and Chip in the stage wings. The board is right off stage. Just in the wings just inside the curtain. Chip was always the consummate stage production guy, Pisces. I’m a Virgo, and Pisces is Virgo’s best friend. Chip was always very professional, very much in charge and very much the general. Kindly. Very fair, a gentleman but very much in charge,” describes Diltz.
“Not lost with me was George Harrison introducing Ravi Shankar. I saw Ravi at Monterey, and he later played Woodstock. I was very familiar with him and his music and loved it. Ben Shapiro was the MFQ’s agent and was Ravi’s agent. I was tremendously moved by his mood. This was an inside facility and I had always seen him outside in venues. I loved the sound of the sitar and the hypnotic rhythm of it. There was the wonderful sound we all loved. I’m a banjo player and there was a relationship to the sarod.”
“In 2010 I went to India. One of the things I liked about Ravi Shankar was that he was from India, and India was a sacred place that I longed to see. Because of Paramahansa Yogananda, his ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ and Self Realization Fellowship,” declared Diltz.
The Concert for Bangladesh was not Henry Diltz’s first encounter with members of the Beatles.
“I had met the Beatles in 1966 at Shea Stadium with the Lovin’ Spoonful. We went in the afternoon. And, by the time it got dark, the Lovin’ Spoonful wore mod costumes so the girls wouldn’t recognize them. But it made them more magnetic. Security escorted us into Shea Stadium dugout hallways and I went in the room when they said, ‘no photos.’ And there were the four Beatles, the four Spoonfuls and me. I talked to Ringo. (John) Sebastian was in conversation with Lennon. Paul was playing the harmonica and bass, did not talk to anyone. Even at Shea Stadium George stood there quietly and played his parts. The other two guys were the personality boys. John and Paul.
“Years and years later I told Paul and Ringo the story. I was a good friend of Linda Eastman before she married Paul. We were fellow photographers. I later did photos for Wings’ ‘London Town’ sessions that became a poster inside. I spent a week with them in the Virgin Islands on a boat. One day I got a call from Ringo to photograph his All Star Band. I asked him if I could stand on the stage as his band played for close-ups. He said, “I’m the drummer, you’re the photographer, it’s as simple as that.’ So subsequently for years I would photograph his groups. That was always our motto.
“The high point at the Bangladesh concert was when Dylan came out and played with George. And I took pictures. I was in the wings and took pictures from the side. I waited for that moment because I didn’t want to get kicked out until the best possible moment and then Dylan and George at the microphone from the side of the stage. Barry Feinstein or someone out front was shooting. And if I would have showed my face out there with my camera I would have been kicked out immediately. Alan Pariser who helped plan Monterey Pop did additional photography. They did two shows and I somehow got to the front of the stage. One roll of color and one roll of black and white with my Nikon. Walked through and found an empty seat.”
“My pictures sat around and never got seen or used for any “Bangladesh” album packages, videos, or DVD’s until 5 years ago when the 35th anniversary occurred,” Diltz admits.
“My friend Rona Elliot knew George’s wife Olivia. Somehow she mentioned to Olivia that, ‘Henry Diltz has some photos.’ ‘Oh, I’d love to see them.’ So she came by my studio and we pulled out my little box of slides and she said, ‘My God. These are beautiful and better than the stuff we got.’
“So she picked one out, George in his white shirt and coat, and his hair blended into the black and I never used it for anything. ‘Can we use it?’ ‘Certainly.’ And they very carefully made the background orange around his hair so it looks a lot better than the actual naked slide looked. So they made that into the cover of the 35th anniversary DVD. That picture of George and a couple of photos of Dylan and Harrison in black and white.
“You put it out there and the universe decides what happens,” imparts Diltz, who with his photo studio archivist Gary Strobl in late May 2011 re-discovered more Bangladesh pre-concert production black and white photo negative sheets in an envelope stamped August 3, 1971.
“Its amazing that it’s 40 years already. I was living in San Francisco at the time and heard talk about the concert on KSAN,” concert attendee Michael Cohen enthused.
“I think I ‘scored ‘ my tickets through Ticketron or BASS on the west coast knowing there was no way I could get them in New York, and there was no way I was going to miss the show.
“I surprised my brother Steve with a belated birthday present; the golden ticket. Having seen the Beatles at Shea Stadium and not hearing a thing, I was a little reluctant but the opportunity to get tickets was too good to pass up.
“I remember from the minute we walked into the Garden you could feel the energy in the air. Magical, spiritual and somewhat overwhelming. From the first note till the last the smiles on our faces never changed. Nor did the tears that ran down my face. It was remarkable. It was also special to be able to share it with Steve, who was 5 years younger and didn’t experience Beatlemania the same way I did.
“As you know, anything Beatles at the time was revered and the idea of a ‘super group’ onstage, well, there are no words to describe it. My recollection is we went to the early show not realizing at the time there was a late show. Had I known I would have gotten tickets for both.
“Our seats were pretty good and with a small camera without a good lens. I took a black and white photo of the stage and the only thing you could see when I developed it were these little guys on stage and in the center, the image of George in his white suit. But if you didn’t know what you were looking at you’d never know what it was.
Needless to say the show was amazing,” beamed Cohen. “Walking out, still in tears, we shook our heads as if to pinch ourselves realizing what we had just witnessed. I know it changed our lives. George. Wow. What an amazing artist and what an amazing human being.”
“I was born in New York, My older brother Michael who was five years older got us tickets. He was always turning me on to things. I was so excited going into Madison Square Garden from Flushing, New York,” remembers Steve Cohen, now owner of Village Pizzeria in Los Angeles. “I had seen the Grateful Dead in 1969. However Bangladesh was a changing point in my life for sure ….I’ll never forget the cloud of smoke as I walked into Madison Square Garden at 15 years old. I had been to a New York Knicks basketball game but it was nothing like this …….
“When I saw George I knew Ringo was going to be there. The opening of ‘Wah-Wah’ set the way. Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ album was my turning point. I saw the possibility of what music could do in the spiritual sense as well. I had already started growing my hair long –smoking weed –was getting more introspective and cerebral. I wasn’t into Bob Dylan yet, nor Ravi Shankar. But hearing Ravi Shankar ask the audience his segment before to be quiet sort of made me soak in his performance and the entire concert, let alone my whole life, became one of experimentation, experience and chance taking,” he reaffirms. “There was unity and selflessness. Further enhanced by the aura of Leon Russell and the happy energy of Billy Preston.
“I own Village Pizzeria. We’ve been in Los Angeles for 15 years after coming down from San Francisco. I have sponsored radio programs on the Beatles.
“I have two stores. One is in Larchmont Village and it’s filled with my sports and music memorabilia, including cut out photos from the ‘Concert For Bangladesh’ vinyl album cover on the walls.
“My Hollywood Pizzeria is located on Yucca Street right up from Capitol Records. The Beatles grace the windows of the building. I see George Harrison’s star on Vine Street almost every day. It’s 50 yards from my store. I feel secure and a relationship that was partially birthed by attending the concert George put together.
“In 2009 Dhani Harrison and Steven Gilmour came to Village Pizzeria for pizza. I later catered a pizza party at The Key Club where Dhani performed with his band thenewno2.
Village Pizzeria’s ‘All We Are Saying is Give a Piece a Chance ..’”
Dr. James Cushing is a DJ on KCPR-FM on the California campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The Literature and English Professor supplies some observations on The Concert For Bangladesh.”
“It might have been the first time in history that a major concert has begin with the star asking the audience to settle down instead of saying let’s party. So, right away the tone is different,” he beings.
“Something also needs to be said about how George Harrison is most important non Indian Indian. In the sense that the primary association that Americans have with Indian culture is whatever George Harrison started them out with. Unless they’ve actually met an Indian person. ‘Norwegian Wood,’ and ‘Within You Without You.’ The entire association that Harrison has with India. I think George Harrison is one of the reasons Indian cuisine has caught on in the United States.
“There is in Harrison’s work an extremely sincere and extremely devoted extremely intent spiritual and religious interest. And that’s been true from the very beginning. And that gives his work a certain power, focus and a certain respectability. But there is the B-side of that. Which has to do with the weakness toward preaching and didacticism. And this sense for years and years humanity has been laboring along in the darkness and then, low and behold, here comes George Harrison to save us from the darkness by telling us what we need to do. ‘By chanting the names of the Lord you’ll be free.’
There is a didactic element in Harrison and that in the concert for Bangladesh he seems to show an awareness of high far the didactic will and will not take you. Because he is almost always deferring. You can hear it at the beginning. ‘We’ve got a good show for you. I hope we do anyway.’ I do not want to dismiss in any way the humanitarianism of it. I just want to say that humanitarianism is a message Ravi Shankar himself said, ‘the concert has a message. We are not politicians. We are artists.’
“At Bangladesh, George Harrison is a voice of caution and fragility. A very interior kind of voice. We can tell and heard he is still a little nervous about the way this is going to go. Like forgetting to introduce Billy Preston. It caused attention to how blissed out he’s not. George we love you.”
By the time Ravi Shankar had performed at Monterey International Pop Festival he had been performing internationally for 20 years, even as a dancer particularly at first and as a sitar player. His debut U.S. album release was “Ravi Shankar Plays Three Classical Three Ragas” in 1956.
“‘Bangla Dhun’ a little stretch and a little bit of a maybe a less popular opinion for me to say that musically this is the high point of the ‘Bangladesh’ album. Simply in terms of the degree of artistry that is presented. There is also a degree of humility here, essentially with Ravi Shankar and Alla Akbar Kahn, two of the greatest virtuosos in the history of playing stringed instruments opening up for Ringo and Leon Russell. In other words, the old world having an ambivalent place in the new world. This music is a little bit more serious than our music.
“What Skankar and Ala Akbar do is very smart. Instead of doing a full raga performance, 35 minutes of just droning sitar and sarod. They start off with something with a bright, snappy tempo and they go. In other words, all the things that Americans who don’t know much about Indian music they love about it they emphasize. There is also the touch of the feminine with the presence of Kamala.
“Shankar is treated as a kind of invocation of India,” pontificates Cushing. “And the concert at one level is about India but on another level is not about India because Ringo Starr is singing ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ and Bob Dylan singing ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ and George Harrison doing ‘Something’ have nothing to do with Indian, really. But the concert has to do with India. So how to you assemble a concert of non Indian music and make it relevant to India? There is only one way to get some authentic serious Indian stuff on the bill. Everybody knew who he was already.”
Dr. Cushing suggests other insights into Harrison and friends Bangladesh August 1, 1971 outing.
“George Harrison’s Bangladesh tour takes it white suburban audience to Bangle Dash and then it takes us up to Watts for a while with Billy Preston with ‘That’s The Way God Planned It.’ His authentic mastery of the Gospel idiom and his willingness to find ways to find ways to work that Gospel idiom into secular music.” Billy also made the Beatles be on their best behavior when George invited him on the ‘Get Back’ recording sessions. Leon Russell and Billy Preston had played together earlier on the television series ‘Shindig!’ in late May of 1965.
“’Beware of Darkness’ with Leon Russell and Jim Horn playing sax becomes more of a blessing,” continues Prof. Cushing. “We have essentially an African-American gospel group with a British lead singer trying to get us into Hindu religious mythology. And this longhaired Oklahoma boy Leon drawls a country western take on the whole verse. So, we have India, plus England plus religious devotion, plus Hari Krishna plus rock super stardom. Only in America. The cultural salad bowl and head on collision.
“The fact that Leon Russell’s 2nd LP has ‘A Hard Rain’s A Gonna-Fall’ and ‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’ in that order, and the Bangladesh set does those songs in that order in similar arrangements, needs to be pointed out. Russell’s musicality anchors the ‘superstar’ vibe of Dylan and 2 Beatles; they are the steak potatoes & peas, but Russell is the plate & the table.
“Because two actual Beatles and a number of Beatles auxiliary members, Bob Dylan in the flesh, we don’t have the Rolling Stones but a very good instancing of Rolling Stones Dyanosian sexual rock energy with Leon doing ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’ All three of the ‘60s royalties and two of the forces that the ‘60s generation most bow down too.
“I do hope, though, that people recognize how important Leon Russell was to that Bangladesh band and to the rock scene during that whole 1969-72 period,” instructed the rock ‘n’ roll doctor.
“There was R&B authenticity as represented by Leon’s cover of Leiber and Stoller penned-Coasters’ ‘Youngblood.’
In spring 2011, the EMI/CAP record label released “The Best of Leon Russell” that contains his rendition of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood” live medley culled from the legendary happening.
The Beatles performed “Youngblood” in their Cavern Club residency and a radio recording of the number is heard on their “Live at the BBC” album featuring George Harrison as the lead vocalist.
The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richard wrote “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” They then teamed with producer Jimmy Miller, after Jagger heard Miller’s groove oriented work with the band Traffic, and waxed it in 1968. During ’69, Russell arranged the horns on the “Live With Me” selection from the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” album.
In a 1999 interview I had with “Youngblood” songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the duo explained the original multi-voice narrative-driven writing session and recording of this Leiber/Stoller (and Doc Pomus) composition initially made famous by the Coasters years before Russell’s frantic Bangladesh concert taped rendition.
“The multiple narrative voice I had heard before. Jimmy Ricks and The Ravens,” Jerry Leiber recollects. “He’d come in with a bass line…I must say, I really didn’t think about the songs I was writing. They were natural sort of evolution of a state of mind. I’d be walking down the street and start singing a line. I didn’t think of it. It would happen. These things happened. The only time I started actively thinking was when I started to edit the work and make it fit better of (singer) Carl Gardner, then you got the hysterical woman voice (Cornell Gunter).
“’Youngblood’ is the only song in that whole raft of rhythm & blues, rock and roll songs that was written in this fashion.
“Jerry Wexler was taking me to his house in his green convertible Cadillac that he was ready to trade in ‘cause the bumpers were falling of it. He lived in Great Neck (New York) and his wife Shirley was gonna cook me this great dinner that night. And he was taking me home. On the way down to the garage to get the car, Jerry said, ‘Doc (Pomus) has this great title and he’s having trouble writing. Would you like to take a crack at it?’ I was smart but very naïve at the same time. I didn’t know I was being hustled into a thing. (laughs).
“So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll write it. That’s fine.’ And Wexler said, ‘When do you think you can do it?’ ‘On the way out to your house.’ Which is the way we used to write all the time. And he thought I was joking. He thought maybe I sat down at a desk and put on a kind of visor and started making copies of things. I used to write almost everything to a kind of dummy rhythm that I would cook up and yell lyrics. Once I had two or three verses it deserved the yellow tablet, but until I had some of the verses paper was not used,” detailed Jerry.
“And I got in the car with Wexler, started singing the song, by the time we got to his house, it was pretty much written. Of course not the melody, but the structure of it was pretty much written. And Wexler was crazy about it. He called up Doc from his house and said, ‘Sing it to Doc.’”
“We were later sitting in Atlantic’s recording studio,” Mike Stoller remembers, “and we were mixing something else and Jerry gave me the song on a legal pad and I wrote the music. I started singing it and that was it.
“Doc, and this isn’t to take anything away from Doc, who was a great writer, Doc wrote the title. We wrote it in New York and recorded it in L.A.. We had ‘Youngblood’ and wrote three others including ‘Searchin’’ and went to record at Master Recorders (with engineer Bunny Robyn) on Fairfax Avenue. I remember that one of The Coasters, one of the original members, (Leon Hughes) was unable to come to the studio that day, so as a ringer we got Young Jessie. And so Young Jessie is one of the voices.”
At the concert for Bangladesh, Chip Monck was reunited as well with Bob Dylan.
“ I knew Dylan and saw him at the Gas Light. Dylan was playing a set there in probably 1962, and Albert Grossman came in on his usual talent hunt. Dylan does 3 or 4 songs, and the kitchen door slams. And all of a sudden those tapes become ‘Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962,’ with no credit to the engineer Richard Alderson. It was a single microphone record. Richard made his own mikes from RCA 77-A that (TV host) Johnny Carson would later use.
“Then after that, we go to the Kettle of Fish, which is upstairs and while having a drink, I introduce myself. ‘That was great I really like that. That was fun. Sorry about the door slamming.’
“Dylan was extremely new and different and had already been turned down to play the Village Gate because Art D’Lugoff, the owner, already had Jack Elliot. Art was one of the most important people in Greenwich Village on so many levels.
“Then Dylan and I met again on the street. He said, ‘You got a typewriter, don’t you?’ ‘Yes I do.’ ‘I want to use it.’ ‘OK. Here are the keys. I’ll show you where I live. And by the way, it’s right next door to the Village Gate. So if there is anything you want to listen too or want to eat or have something to drink you can just walk through the door with this key and you are in the Gate.’ ‘OK.’
“Every now and then I’d come back into the apartment after my two shows at The Gate and he’d be there plucking away. ‘Can I see it?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Don’t’ you think it would be better if it was phrased like…’
“‘I don’t need a fuckin’ co-writer! Nor do I need to pay royalties to your typewriter. You can read it but just keep your fuckin’ mouth shut.’ ‘OK. Would you like to have something to eat Mr. Dylan?’ (laughs). That was about the extent of it. Every now and then it would go missing and then it would come back and have a complete new type ribbon in it and a new Correcto type ribbon.
“I figured this is a co-owned typewriter and fine with me. I don’t have to type his words. ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and ‘Hollis Brown’ were two I remember. ‘Hard Rain’ was the primary. And what I’d do is just take out the paper in the wastebasket at end of the night, iron it flat, put it in a folder which was unfortunately lost when my first wife Barbara sold our Bridge Hampton, Long Island house. Some contractor probably has it in his files.
“So at Bangladesh I saw him do ‘Hard Rain’ with the guitar. Since I only saw it previously as the uncompleted number.
“At the ‘69 Woodstock Music Festival, the intercom system I was using with a telephone operator head set had a couple of 240 McIntosh amplifiers which Bob was kind enough as to lend me after my AT&T unit crashed. Guess I better return them when we next cross paths.”
In spring of 1971 just before the concert for Bangladesh was conceived, Jim Keltner had done some recording sessions with Bob Dylan.
“In March of ’71 I did a couple of songs with Leon (Russell), Carl Radle, and Jesse Ed Davis for Bob Dylan. (“Watching The River Flow” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece”).
“When George introduced Bob, (at Bangladesh) I stood backstage, and Dylan walked on. Jean jacket, kind of quiet, the way Bob always is. Standing in the back in the dark, it was great to see Leon have the guts to get up there with the bass and perform with him on ‘Just Like A Woman.’”
Pattie Boyd, former “Vogue” model, George Harrison’s wife, inspiration for “Something” and Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” had witnessed her husband organizing the Bangladesh talent in the Nichols Canyon house they rented in Southern California for the summer of 1971.
“Pisces Apple Lady” Chris O’Dell also helped Pisces George contact a few of the musicians for the event.
“The first line of thinking from George was ‘Ravi has asked me to do something for him,’” remembered O’Dell in July 2011. “That’s about friendship. That was more important than where it was gonna go. Even in the lyric to the song ‘Miss O’Dell,’ George had mentioned ‘the rice (that never made it) to Bombay.’ George had told me about that situation earlier that summer. George was learning a lot from Ravi as time went by. So the idea of a concert didn’t come up right off the bat. It came up later. Then it was, ’would you help me?’
“ And it was little things. Don Nix came into town. George didn’t know him. We all went to Catalina Island together. I knew him from Leon. From that came the background singers.
“I don’t think we had any idea of what it could be. I mean, it was fairly apparent that if you put a Beatle on stage, with a successful album behind him, ‘All Things Must Pass,’ that it would probably draw people especially. John & Yoko did their things, but George hadn’t, and you make an assumption that with George involved it’s gonna draw people.
“George said, ‘I can’t believe this is all coming together.’ The whole thing just grew right before our eyes.”
Chris O’Dell also remembers Harrison’s own mission in securing Bob Dylan for the gathering.
“That was part of the territory with him for a long time. And, you know, honestly, if George had an idol musically, that was it. So I think just having that piece there. George looked up to Bob in a way that there was that kind of esteem. And then the asking him to do something like that, and not wanting to let him down. George was really frightened by all this.”
It was well documented that George and Pattie had concerns about Bob Dylan showing up at the Bangladesh booking. Although she was immediately relieved when Dylan arrived at the rehearsal.
Chris O’Dell and Pattie Boyd were subsequently backstage for all the action and caught the second show in second row center-stage seats.
” Sensational. It was amazing. Really wonderful. So exciting,” Pattie told journalist Michael Simmons in July 2011 at Boyd’s photo show on Catalina Island. “So exciting George pulled it off. I remember when Dylan was onstage, everybody said ‘Oh my God, he’s not going to get off!'” Boyd, wasn’t criticizing Bob for playing too long, but was simply inferring that despite the fact that no one was sure he’d show up, once he did Dylan had a blast performing.
Dr. James Cushing further dissects the stage repertoire of Bob Dylan on August 1, 1971 at his Madison Square Garden Bangla desh appearance. It was Cushing’s birthday, too.
“This is the first time since 1965 that Dylan is singing his own material in New York and given how central the city is to his career. The surprises that it represented because no one at the arena or record business expected to hear or see him do something like this. Only in a sense is there a link to him performing at The March on Washington in 1963 where Dylan shows up to support an event for the larger good of a humanitarian cause. The March on Washington was much more explicitly political than the concert for Bangladesh.
“The fact for the first time we get to hear George and Ringo and Bob we get to hear Bob Dylan and the Beatles singing together for the first time ever. Kind of a thrill of uniqueness. All of the Dylan songs come from 1963-1966.
“Dylan had just turned age 30. He didn’t perform any compositions from his recent albums of the time, ‘Nashville Skyline,’ ‘Self Portrait’ and ‘New Morning.’ He was distancing people from the notion of Bob Dylan as the voice of his generation. So the gesture he makes in Bangladesh, and this is a very voice of a generation kind of move. Maybe because it is a special thing for Harrison and a special thing for Bangladesh, he’d be willing to do it just one more time.
“Plus, later in 1971, Dylan and Columbia Records release his ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 2’ that has a cover photo and other pictures from his Bangladesh appearance.
“But let’s not forget the next time Bob Dylan emerges he is a very different kind of performer with a different voice, a different haircut, a different set of arrangements for his ‘Before the Flood’ tour,” concludes the rock & roll doctor.
At The Ash Grove music club on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood, Ca. in 1971, Phil Spector disclosed his Bob Dylan Bangladesh story to the adoring throng.
“Nobody really knew Bob Dylan was coming, including us, ‘cause he was out bicycle riding most of the morning. The funniest thing, we were all sitting in the hotel room and George said, ‘Bob, do you think…it would really be groovy if you’d just come out one time and do a bit of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind?’ Just turn them all on, you know.’ ‘Ummm, man, you gonna do ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand?’”
In a 1971 radio interview on Los Angeles AM radio station KDAY, Spector previewed selections from his first generation “Bangladesh” master tape acetate.
Phil and the DJ aired Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” from the concert as well as Dylan’s non-released “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” left off the package due to vinyl space limitations of the period.
“Bob just came in right from bicycle riding on the day of the show. Bob just got up there and sang. It was probably the best performance he’s ever done. In my opinion the album is worth buying just for Bob Dylan. And I’m not just trying to sell the album but it’s such an extraordinary performance.”
“Dylan, as far as we know, does not play soccer, but he continues to move the goalposts,” theorized record producer, author and Sirius XM DJ Andrew Loog Oldham in 2011.
“When the Beatles started hanging out in Hollywood and Los Angeles with David Crosby, Peter Fonda, and the ‘Benedict Canyon’ type of people,” elaborated music business veteran and Sirius XM DJ, Kim Fowley in 2011, “George went a little further and began wishing he was in a band like Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, who became the blue print and the template for The Concert for Bangladesh. Leon Russell, Carl Radle, Jim Keltner and Eric Clapton. Eric was more American emotionally than he ever was English. George was the most American of all the Beatles. He had been to America and St. Louis before the band came to New York in 1964. George Harrison wrote ‘Blue Jay Way.’ So he was the first Beatle to write a song about America.
“I saw Delaney & Bonnie open for Blind Faith in 1969 at the Inglewood Forum as the guest of Chris Blackwell to the show. I was the first white artist signed on Island Records,” he bragged. “’The Trip’ came out on Island.
“I performed with both of them that night when they played the Forum. I had known Eric Clapton from England at the Richmond Athletic Club days when he was in the Yardbirds. And, I had met him again when Cream was forming. He knew Jack Bruce had covered one of my songs during his earlier Manfred Mann days for an Australian EP, ‘Long Hair, Unsquare Dude Called Jack,’ that I had sung on the last every Hollywood Argyles single. An anti-hippie song on Chatahootchie Records which went top ten by the way in Saigon. At any rate, Eric and I connected.
“Then, at the Blind Faith show in the dressing room, Eric asked me to come on stage if I knew the words to ‘Sunshine Of Your Love.’
“Bonnie and I did a dance, a matador version of ‘Sunshine of Your Love.’ When we entered the stage I yelled ‘Legalize Marijuana!’ I shouted in from the rooftops like Paul Jones in the movie ‘Privilege.’ The hall turned off the sound. And everybody smiled and the band kept playing and the microphones were gone the music continued instrumentally and then Bonnie and I did ‘The Alligator.’
“Delaney & Bonnie were that kind of revolving door friendly Southern jam tradition. And in the final part of George’s life, The Traveling Willbury’s.’ Who was in the Travelin’ Willbury’s? Americans, along with him and Jeff Lynne. So that was an extension of Bangladesh and an extension of Delaney & Bonnie. Remember what Delaney & Bonnie’s single was? ‘Are You a Beatle or a Rolling Stone?’ So there was that connection.
“The guitarist Don Preston was at Bangladesh with Leon Russell and Preston had been in the Shindogs with Delaney Bramlett. I knew Leon Russell. He was a member of the Wrecking Crew along with Jackie Kelso, Jim Horn and Lew McCreary, who were the horns at Bangladesh,” he continues.
“So Leon was used to playing on Frank Sinatra and Gary Lewis & The Playboys session dates. He was always around multiple famous people because they all made records together. So he was able to deal with a revolving door again policy of famous people. Because that’s what his day job was as a studio musician.
“Well, he also was a singer. But he wasn’t called on to be a singer when he was a studio musician on all those hit records.
“When it came time for Mad Dogs & Englishmen he was better on camera than Joe Cocker. And Leon used that as his launch pad to be a white Ray Charles What no one had ever seen or heard of that idea before. And he stole the movie because the camera loved the bone-like structure of Leon. Like Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson on celluloid. Joe Cocker sweated and shut his eyes. But Leon was more mysterious in the Leon cool and sinister skeletal profile translated to mystery.
“When you are thin you can never be too thin. And the camera agrees with you and then suddenly there you are. There was no MTV then and everybody went to see the ‘The Concert for Bangladesh’ movie. And there was a new star. And that’s what launched him,” speculated Fowley.
“The Concert for Bangladesh symbolizes a pan-national version of Mad Dogs & Englishmen,” presents Kim Fowley. “And if go back to that point, that is another extension of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. It was George Harrison thinking of himself possibly in a telethon context. George saw that idea and he took it to the next level. Because he was a Beatle who could think. Harrison was invisible when he needed to be. George Martin was the catalyst for the embryonic dreams of Lennon, McCartney, Starkey and Harrison. Martin was able to consolidate and expand their anticipation. He was a great editor.”
“In the late ‘70s I co-wrote six songs with Leon Russell on his ‘Americana’ album,” reiterates Kim Fowley. “Done before his duet album with Willie Nelson back in 1978. Leon was always a very astute smart guy. Not only was he the white Ray Charles, he was Ray Charles and Scott Joplin. Leon was also the state-typing champion of Oklahoma. He had a typewriter on his keyboard in the studio where I co-wrote with him. He’s a gentleman, scholar and human being.
“George Harrison and Eric Clapton shared a wife at different times. They married the same woman, Pattie Boyd, who I once took to dinner and got a round of applause when I walked into the Rainbow bar & grill on Sunset Blvd. The whole place stood up and applauded me,” Fowley marveled.
“There was a celebrity bowling party on La Cienega and Santa Monica at Flipper’s Ice Skating Rink. She was astounding looking. I noticed Pattie was stranded by her posse. And she declared, ‘I don’t know where my friends are?’ I volunteered, ‘I will rescue you by Yellow Cab.’
“So we then hoped into a taxi and entered into the Rainbow. I walked her in and I figured somebody in there would know her. And then whole place erupted to applause. We then sat down and had dinner. Pattie Boyd Harrison Clapton as my dinner companion. By the way, she was as smart and could carry on a conversation as lucid as David Bowie ever could or Robert Plant ever did.
“Then her friends Alan Pariser, who had managed Delaney & Bonnie, and photographer Barry Feinstein came in on a search. Pattie exclaimed, ‘Kim Fowley rescued me, guys. Now I’m going to visit him in his garage apartment.’
“And they said, ‘No. No. That’s not appropriate. But we will give Kim a ride to his apartment.’ They dropped me off. She waived goodbye and off they drove to the night. Later Dustin Hoffman filmed a scene of the movie ‘Lenny’ in front of my place looking over the city. Which was exactly what happened to me that night,” he sighed.
“40 years goes by so quickly,” George Harrison once said to his “All Things Must Pass” album contributor, Bobby Whitlock, a founding member of Derek and the Dominoes.
Whitlock, along with Eric Clapton, sang background as the O’Hara Smith Singers, on the endearing and enduring “All Things Must Pass” collaboration.
Whitlock remained uncredited on the Harrison-inspired recording sessions, but provided pump organ, Electric Wurlitzer, Hammond organ, piano and tubular bells on certain tracks on the Harrison and Phil Spector production.
In 2011 I asked Whitlock about the durability and longevity of Derek and the Dominoes’ “Layla.”
Bobby’s answer might surely apply to the spirit and the “The Concert for Bangladesh” recorded documentation.
“My philosophy is that it’s not mine in the first place. It’s not me doin’ it, you know. I’m that place where the creative principal of the universe operates. Just like Eric is that place through which the creative principal of the universe. Call it God, Holy Spirit. Whatever you want to call it, he’s that place with the guitar and I’m that place with my voice and my playing abilities and my songs.
“And the thing is that if the song, anything, comes by way that divine source, it will have longevity. It will live its own life.
“It comes from that divine source. You don’t have to worry about it. It is going to be a forever destination. It will be forever. Because you don’t have to worry about the money for it or if it is gonna be promoted right or anything. It will take care of itself. ‘Layla’ took care of itself. It developed its own wing and has flown all these years without anybody seekin’ a ton of cash.”
In 1974 George Harrison gave a press conference in Beverly Hills at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel that I attended when he was preparing for a U.S. solo tour. George was pelted with questions about the Beatles, his Dark Horse record label and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I published the results in the November 2, 1974 issue of “Melody Maker.”
On meeting the Beatles Harrison responded, “Biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles. In retrospect, biggest break since then was getting out of them.”
Was he ever amazed about how much the Beatles still mean to people?
“Not really. I mean it’s nice. I realize the Beatles did fill a space in the sixties. All the people the Beatles meant something too have grown up. It’s like anything you grow up with you get attached to things.
“I understand the Beatles in many ways did nice things and it’s appreciated the people still like them. They want to hold on to something. People are afraid of change. You can’t live in the past.”
“Since I made ‘All Things Must Pass,’ it was nice for me to be able to play with other musicians. I don’t think the Beatles were that good. Ringo has the best backbeat I’ve ever heard. Him and Levon Helm of the Band was the best drummers I’ve ever heard. They don’t play technically, no drum solos, just play.
“Ringo will play a great backbeat 24 hours a day. Paul is a fine bass player, he’s a bit overwhelming at times. John has gone through his scene, to tell you the truth, I’d join a band with John Lennon any day, but I couldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney. That’s not personal, but from a musical point of view. John’s new record is lovely.”
Harrison was asked about his concepts and goals of Dark Horse Records. “There isn’t really a concept or goal. The goal in life is to manifest our divinity. Because each one of us is potentially divine. All we can do is try and do that, and hope that influences our work.”
In addition at that frenzied media event, Harrison cited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his visit to Indian with the Beatles in 1967.
“I have a lot of respect for him. He gave me help and plugged me in to a method of being able to contact that reservoir of energy which is within us all. Pure consciousness. I experienced it. He showed me how to reach that. Everything else is just words, beyond the intellect is to have an experience you have to have in order to know.”
About how George saw the role of entertainer in working with causes and charities?
“I don’t think it’s an entertainer’s job. He does what he can. And I do it through music. It’s not isolated to musicians.”
In his 1974 Beverly Hills-based press conference, Harrison itemized the charities he would be working with on his tour that year including, “a concert in Los Angeles for the Self Realization Fellowship. It was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. He happened to be a big influence in my life. I’d like to repay his in a small way.”
“George Harrison’s Bangladesh concert displayed Ravi Shankar, who is holy man spiritual inspiration for George’s ethereal escapades and adventures,” summarizes songwriter and record producer Kim Fowley
“As the Bangladesh shows and the CD/DVD product and re-releases hit age 40 it’s like fine wine in a billionaire’s wine cellar who brings it up for the important guests. It’s the vintage element. In an instant information era which is not flavor of the month anymore. It’s flavor of the moment, I just coined it. Flavor of the moment there’s no fiber of backup. It’s, ‘Oh. Here’s something new, bright nice and noisy.’ Now it’s gone for the next thing that is bright, shiny and noisy. And only in the past in pop culture do you go to something that has lasted forever. It is the European vantage point of old.
“Bangladesh is now appreciated because it stood the test of time. As opposed to the latest phenomena on YouTube or Face Book that will be forgotten by dinnertime. And that’s why it’s good because it is based on tradition and tradition is something the new cycle is missing. And that’s why it’s worth checking out. If you were young and weren’t there the first time you get to see where it all comes from and it has a richness and depth of culture. And secondly, if you were there it reminds you how much better things were yesterday. Because tomorrow is fast food entertainment.”
The last time I saw George Harrison was in 1998 one afternoon in a home of a mutual musician friend in Los Angeles.
When I arrived, Harrison greeted me with, “Well, at least here you don’t have to take your shoes off like at Ravi’s house!” Harrison was reviewing tapes in the home studio on the premises.
George had seen Eddie Izzard’s show at The Tiffany Theater and offered a good recommendation of a local Indian restaurant in West Hollywood he frequented, Taste of India. He had just dined there with his wife Olivia and Jim Capaldi. When we parted I gave him some freeway directions to his in-laws in the South Bay area.
Over the last few decades, Harrison and Shankar would, on occasion, visit Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, California, the beach community near San Diego where Shankar lives with his second wife Sukanya since 1992.
The windmill chapel at the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades California carries on Paramahansa Yogananda’s spiritual and humanitarian Self Realization Fellowship work and legacy and hosted George Harrison’s funeral service in 2001.
In an interview Ravi Shankar conducted with George Varga for his Pop Talk page in the April, 2011 edition of “The San Diego Union-Tribune,” Shankar touted George Harrison and addressed the growth of Indian music globally.
“With George, it was something very special — the whole concept of Indian music and tradition — because he was very much interested in our philosophy, spirituality and the old texts, the Vedas. I was very happy to see such a serious approach.
“People would say: ‘Oh, Indian music is very exciting and exotic But when does it start? When does it end?’
“Because (just) the tuning of the instruments takes a long time, which I made a joke about at the Concert for Bangladesh. So I knew what Western people liked and didn’t like. This is what, in cinema, you call film editing. For years (at concerts), I would explain how the scale of a song goes up and down, and explain the mode of the raga and the time (signatures), before we played each piece. I’d also tell the background of each composition and tell little jokes, and that almost immediately made me accepted by audiences. I’m so glad, because I did that for 4 or 5 years, all over the world. And I think that opened the door for all our musicians (from India) to gradually gain acceptance,” acknowledged Shankar, whose work has inspired and influenced the Beatles, Byrds, Doors, Cornershop, multi-instrumentalist Chris Darrow from the Kaleidoscope, guitarist Jeff Simmons, a Frank Zappa and the Mothers’ alum, and guitarist and Self Realization Fellowship devotee, David Kessel, “The only big difference I feel at this age is a little more anxiety,” Ravi noted to Varga.
“Once I start and get into it, I forget the age. I feel so much richer, in depth and new ideas, then I ever have before. Mentally, I sometimes feel like: ‘How can I start? I’m getting old!’ But then I forget everything and it comes much easier. Of course, (regarding) the speed and virtuosity, I may not be able to run as fast as I could (before). But I feel so much more richer in my playing. When I teach, new things come. .
“When I say ‘new,’ it’s based on tradition, but new ideas. I’m bombarded by so much (stimuli) that it becomes very painful sometimes! I’m amazed how, by the press of a button on a computer, you can learn about anything you want today. But if people could go deeper into things, and not just skim the surface, that would be a great thing.”
Ravi Shankar is an inspiration to many, especially his daughters. His frequent musical partner and sitar player, Anoushka Shankar, and singer-songwriter, Norah Jones.
“I think I will be doing music as long as my dad,” Jones mentioned to George Varga in the “San Diego Union-Tribune.” “His (longevity is) a testament to the power of doing what you love.”
Anoushka Shankar, who now lives in the U.K. with her husband film director Joe Wright, also commented about her father. “He’s always looking forward, never back, and that propels him at an age where other people retire. It’s incredible, isn’t it? But I thought it was incredible 10 years ago.”
“I am so very honored beyond description to be named after this incredible man,” said saxophone star Ravi Coltrane, the son of jazz icon John Coltrane, to Varga. “I am continually inspired and elevated by (Shankar’s) commitment to music, by his kindness and grace.”
In my 1997 “HITS” interview with Ravi Shankar, he detailed his own encounters with John Coltrane.
“He was coming to learn from me. I told him, ‘John, why do I find so much turmoil and disturbance in your music?’ He laughed and said, ‘That’s exactly what I’m trying to find out myself and you can help me.’
“We had three meetings and he came and sat twice, a very long one and a very short one in a New York hotel where I used to stay. And he wrote down many ragas, and I taught him how we improvise and he was asking me, ‘How do you bring the spiritual quality in your music? How do you do that?’ Afterwards, he started using more drones, if you remember. I heard the turmoil in his music. He was like a child. It was a wonderful revelation for me to see this man. Dick Bock (founder of World Pacific Record label) always tried to play me as much Coltrane as possible, in the car, or a few records. There I was hearing certain melody qualities that were so wonderful.”
I asked Ravi Shankar as well about his audience and his lifetime mission.
“I can only tell you what I’ve heard, not once, but a thousand times. It comes from a black man who is a porter at the airport, or the Immigration Officer, and they say one thing, which I always get tears in my eyes: ‘Thank you for what you gave us through your music.’ “Some go back to the Sixties, even 1956 or whatever, and this has always been the case. That’s what I want to do through my music. To give them, as much as is possible, love and peace and the feeling of all the different sentiments that we have, starting from romantic to playful, to happiness, to speed, to virtuosity and fun. And finally, something which is most important to me, the spiritual,” acknowledges India’s acclaimed cultural ambassador.
Ravi Shankar in 1996 released the album, “Chants of India” on Angel Records, produced by his longtime friend and musical collaborator Harrison. “Chants of India” is based on prayers and ancient chants of Shankar’s native India. The session musicians include Harrison, tabla player Bikram Ghosh and Shankar’s then 15 year-old daughter, Anoushka, who helped assist and conduct and is quietly gaining her own reputation as a dazzling sitar player in the shows she shares with her father.
In 1996, Angel Records issued the acclaimed 4-CD retrospective of Shankar’s career, “Ravi: In Celebration.” This compilation was produced by George Harrison and Alan Kozlowski in association with Ravi Shankar, and according to Harrison, “The idea behind this four disc set is to show the different aspects of Ravi’s music.” The discs were arranged into Classical Sitar Music, Orchestral Indian/Ensembles, East/West Collaborations and Vocals & Experimental.
It was in September 1966, Harrison had traveled to Bombay and became one of Shankar’s students. Now, thirty years later, he continues his association as Shankar’s recording producer.
In 1997, Harrison underscored to me how he first became involved with the new Shakar-themed collection. “Steve Murphy, the president of Angel Records, had heard some songs that were similar to material on ‘In Celebration,’ a Ravi retrospective that I had helped assemble last year. He suggested we go in to the studio to record more. This music, which is based on ancient Vedic chanting, I very much enjoy. And, of course, it give me an opportunity to work with Ravi, so it made perfect sense.”
Harrison’s role on the record went beyond simply producing, “I organized the recording of the album and during the recording I sang and played on a couple of songs. Bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and a few other things — vibraphone, glockenspiel, autoharp. The main thing was organizing — finding the right musicians, busing everybody out to my studio, and making certain everyone was properly fed. Finding the right engineer, John Etchells, was also key.”
When asked why now is the right time to release “Chants of India” to the world, Harrison was eager to explain his motivation.
“In a way it represents the accumulation of our ideas and experiences throughout our 30-year relationship. But to put it into a slightly more commercial aspect, the record label asked us to do this and that would never have happened 15 years ago. Because of the fact of multiculturalism has become more accepted, and more people are interested in what this music offers, this project has become more commercially viable. And this music is very close to me, this is something I very much wanted to do. I actively read the Vedic scriptures and I’m happy to spread the word about what this project is all about. People also need an alternative to all the clatter in their lives, and this music provides that. Whether it’s Benedictine Monks chanting or ancient Vedic chants, people are searching for something to cut through all the clatter and ease stress.”
Ravi Shankar published his autobiography “Raga Mala” in September 2001 that was edited and introduced by George Harrison.
In 2005, Shankar once again embellished the impact of Bangla desh and the ramifications of the culture-informing endeavor. “Bangladesh was such a unique thing,” stated Shankar in the 2005 “The Concert for Bangladesh Revisited” documentary. “It was such a unique thing. Everybody was so moved and touched. It had a special feeling apart from just a performance. Overnight everybody knew the name of Bangladesh all over the world.”
During 2011 Ravi Shankar continues to perform around the world. He is age 91 and is scheduled to perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Thursday, September 29th as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic World Music series. In November a recital is scheduled for Calcutta.
The documentary “Living in the Material World: George Harrison” directed by Martin Scorsese is scheduled to premiere in two parts airing on Oct 5th and 6th on HBO. In the UK the DVD will be released on October 10th, followed a month later by a broadcast.
Scorsese has been working with Harrison’s widow Olivia for the last four years on this film. Interview subjects include Sir George Martin, Phil Spector, Tom Petty and Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle.
The movie is produced by Scorsese, Nigel Sinclair and Olivia Harrison, the musician’s widow. Olivia has authored a companion book to be published by Abrams Books in September.
Steve Van Zandt May, 2011, Lillehammer, Norway
“The anti-apartheid Sun City project (single, album, video, documentary, book, teaching guide) was a high point and a rare clear cut victory from the ten years I spent immersed in the dark, murky, frustrating labyrinth of international liberation politics.
“It came in the middle of my five politically themed solo albums and had it’s roots, like all the charity and consciousness raising multi-artist events that would follow, in the Concert for Bangladesh.
“One could go back seven years further to the work of Bob Dylan for the reason my generation had any political or social awareness at all. He would single-handedly bring the more personal, socially, and politically relevant lyrics previously confined to Country Blues, Country, and Folk music to the Pop and Rock idiom. The fact that he probably did so to impress his girlfriend Suze at the time, rather than some grand meglomaniacal scheme to become the spokesperson of his generation, just makes him all the more human and likable and is probably the reason he’s still around and still great.
“And it’s not a coincidence that he’s the one artist on both Bangladesh and Sun City 15 years later.
“But it was the Concert for Bangladesh that would be the beginning of all the multi-artist events bringing awareness to a cause and/or raising money.
“It would take the energy and focus of a Beatle, George Harrison, to bring the extraordinary necessary life force to get the event organized and executed so quickly and with such high quality.
“The unfortunate financial complications that followed was the one thing that couldn’t be foreseen by noble naïve artists trying to do the right thing in an emergency situation. The despicable, mindless, emotionless bureaucracy they would run into would later instruct all of us who followed.
“But that aside, it was a wonderful event and we all owe George our gratitude. All of us who have ever had the desire to use-and justify-our celebrity to do some good, as well as the tens of millions who have benefited from these events, all have him to thank. Him, and the generous heart of the legendary master musician Ravi Shankar who came to his friend with the desire to bring aid and attention to a terrible, tragic situation.
“As far as history is concerned, we shouldn’t take for granted the fact that these charity and awareness events exist, and that the Rock world has done more than any other industry to help people in need. This was not some inevitable act of destiny or even a predictable evolution of what turned out to be a 25 year successful run of the music business.
“The idea had to start somewhere.
“The source is the Concert for Bangladesh.”
Out in May 2012 is director Martin Scorsese’s “George Harrison: Living In The Material World,” a DVD and CD distributed by Universal Music Enterprises.
The film which debuted in 2011 on HBO is now available in three editions: 2-DVD set, Blu-ray, and a Deluxe Edition that will include the DVD, Blu-Ray, special packaging and a 96-page photography book.
In addition, the exclusive 10-track CD “Early Takes Volume 1,” featuring previously unreleased music from George Harrison.
The film includes interviews with Jim Keltner, Pattie Boyd, Ravi Shankar, Pattie BoydEric Clapton, Ray Cooper, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty, Phil Spector, Ringo Starr, Jackie Stewart, Olivia and Dhani Harrison.
The two brothers of George Harrison appear in the movie but not sister Louise Harrison.
Besides some previously seen footage of the Harrison-led 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh charity concert, one of the highlights of this wonderful and compelling movie are some never seen glimpses and stage music excerpts of the 1974 Harrison and Ravi Shankar U.S. tour.
“Early Takes Volume 1” is also released independent of the Deluxe Edition in CD, digital and 180-gram vinyl formats. Rare, early takes of “I’d Have You Anytime” and “Awaiting On You All” plus unheard demo versions of “Behind That Locked Door,” “All Things Must Pass,” “Run of the Mill” and “My Sweet Lord,” all later featured on the Harrison and Phil Spector-produced 1970 chart-topping album “All Things Must Pass.”
Other unissued tracks include demos of “The Light That Has Lighted the World,” “Let It Be Me,” Bob Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind,” and an early take of “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me.”
(Harvey Kubernik is a Los Angeles native and a Southern California resident. Kubernik has been an active music journalist since 1972, a record producer since 1979, and a former West Coast Director of A&R for MCA Records.
Kubernik’s hardcover 384-page book, “Canyon Of Dreams,” his history on the Laurel Canyon musical legacy, is published by Sterling/Barnes & Noble on October 2, 2009. The volume will incorporate over 350 rare and unseen music-related visuals and artifacts and spotlights over 200 Henry Diltz photos. Doors’ Ray Manzarek has penned the book’s introduction and Lou Adler wrote the Afterword to Kubernik’s endeavor.
Kubernik’s debut hardcover book, This Is Rebel Music: The Harvey Kubernik InnerViews, was published in 2004 by the University of New Mexico Press. The author’s second book, Hollywood Shack Job: Rock Musicin Film and on Your Screen, was published in January 2007 by the same UNM Press.
Kubernik’s literary work appear in several book anthologies, including The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats and Drinking with Bukowski.
In May 2006, Kubernik contributed the liner note essay for the Water Records CD reissue of Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish album, originally produced by Jerry Wexler in 1965 for the Atlantic Records label. Kubernik also wrote the liner notes on the expanded re-release of The Ramones’ End of the Century CD in 2002 on the Rhino/WMG label and was project coordinator of the recording set The Jack Kerouac Collection for the same label.
In November 2006, Kubernik was a featured speaker discussing audiotape preservation and archiving at the special hearings called by The Library of Congress.
In 2007, Kubernik conducted the extensive 32-page interview with Brian Wilson utilized in his worldwide concert tour program. In 2008, Kubernik wrote the liner notes for the Sony/BMG Records release of the deluxe edition of Carole King’s Tapestry album and also penned the 5,400-word liner note booklet for the Sony/BMG Records 4-CD box set, Elvis Presley ’68 Special.”
Kubernik penned two feature essays, about the singer-songwriter genre and Carole King’s legendary Tapestry album, both of which are exhibited online at the American Masters home page on the PBS-TV website
In 2009, Kubernik penned the feature essay and conducted the stand alone interview for the Genesis Publications book with Wilson for his “That Lucky Old Son” collaboration with famed artist Peter Blake published in July. . There will be 1,000 limited edition signed books and will retail for 750 pounds in the U.K.
Harvey and his brother Ken are writing a history of the Monterey International Pop Festival, to be published by Santa Monica Press in fall, 2011 (http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Haze-Illustrated-Monterey-International/dp/1595800603).
Event producer Lou Adler has penned the introduction to the book, which is titled A Perfect Haze: The Monterey International Pop Festival. Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas wrote the postscript).