The big surprise at the time, of course, was that this whole thing was arranged by George Harrison, "The Quiet Beatle" ... even with the benefit of 40 years of hindsight, it was a remarkable achievement. George literally "invented" the Rock And Roll Fundraiser in the process ... and his commitment and passion for the people of Bangla Desh never wavered. Although it took years for the funds raised to be properly distributed (thanks to all kinds of legal red-tape mumbo-jumbo), Harrison ultimately raised MILLIONS for his cause ... and a George Harrison UNICEF Fund still exists to this very day where concerned folks who share that passion can continue to make donations that are guaranteed to go right to the cause. (In fact, royalties of ALL the participating artists from the release of the album and film still go straight to UNICEF ... none of them have ever made a dime off of these proceedings!)
Harrison put together an all-star line-up ... and nearly reunited The Beatles in the process! (One cannot help but wonder how history may have been rewritten had all four "fabs" participated! Legend has it that John Lennon ultimately backed out due to sheer paranoia of performing live on stage again ... and that McCartney used the event for leverage, agreeing to perform ONLY if he could be let out of his Apple contract ... when it became clear that Macca had his own agenda, using Harrison's cause for personal negotiation, the offer was rescinded.) Instead, "Beatle George" performed with "Beatle Ringo", concentrating primarily on their solo material. (George's first real solo LP, "All Things Must Pass" was still a radio mainstay at the time ... and Ringo had just recently hit with "It Don't Come Easy". George still performed a couple of Beatles favorites, too, like "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun" ... and, of course, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with Eric Clapton on lead guitar, just as he was on The Beatles' White Album!) Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones was originally scheduled to perform, too, but backed out at the last minute. That's why the band had learned and rehearsed "Jumpin' Jack Flash", which was ultimately performed by Leon Russell that night instead.
Concert viewers were treated to performances by Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton ... and watched a then unknown (to the masses) Billy Preston steal the show with his rousing rendition of "That's The Way God Planned It" (which should have been a HUGE hit after he blew the doors off it on stage.) I remember little tidbits like Harrison asking Dylan if he'd come on stage and maybe sing a little bit of "Blowin' In The Wind" ... to which Dylan reportedly replied, "Why, are you going to do 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'?" (lol) I also clearly remember Harrison showing up on The Dick Cavett Show several months later, hawking the 3-LP set and telling Cavett, "I've learned a lot from The Lennons"!!! Great stuff!
To help us celebrate the anniversary, we've got a VERY special Forgotten Hits treat today. FH Reader (and noted rock journalist) Harvey Kubernik has sent us an in-depth essay, waxing nostalgic on The Concert For Bangla Desh ... and given us permission to run it on the website! (You'll see that it kicks off with a quick thank you for mentioning his book on the site the other day ... and then goes into full-blown glory about the concert event itself. It's really quite a piece!) Pardon our usual blogger flaws ... no amount of editing could get rid of some of the inconsistencies again in type size, font and background!!! (Jeez!!! Are they EVER gonna fix this frickin' thing?!?!?)
So, before we turn things over to Harvey, just a quick link to show you where you can still go to make UNICEF donations ... and find out more about downloading a copy of the film. (kk)
re: BANGLA DESH:
Totally dug the riff on my "Canyon of Dreams" book.
Appreciate the touting of Danny Hutton helping Elton John on view.
In all the artifacts I found for this book, I always felt what Danny provided really reinforced the essence of Laurel Canyon in the late '60s and pleased that others have picked up on Hutton's seminal A&R skills exposing Elton Stateside.
Also grooved on being on the site with fellow Pisces George Harrison.
I wrote this multi-voice narrative about the Concert For Bangladesh you might want to check out and exhibit.
Very cool! Yeah, I think I can find a spot for this ... thanks for letting us run it in Forgotten Hits, Harvey! (kk)
August 1, 2011 ... the 40th anniversary of George Harrison and Friends “The Concert for Bangladesh.”
Ravi Shankar ... September 29, 2011 ... Disney Hall concert in L.A.
By Harvey Kubernik c 2011
August 1st will mark 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, Badfinger, 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, “Bangla-Desh,” 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 Bangla Desh”) 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 Bangla Desh” 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 Harrison-initiated fund, overseen by his wife Olivia, has generated millions of dollars to help others dealing with natural disasters, malnutrition and other emergencies. Donations can be made online at www.GeorgeHarrisonFundForUNICEF.com.
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.”
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.
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 megalomaniacal 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.”
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 Bangla Desh.
“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 Bangla Desh, 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 ‘Bangla-Desh.’ 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 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.”
In a 2002 “Goldmine” Magazine interview I conducted with drummer / percussionist Jim Keltner, he reminisced about participating in The Concert for Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh, George was very lucky to have had Phil on that set,” reinforced Jim.
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 Bangla Desh. “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.”
The late bass player Carl Radle played on the Leon Russell portion of Bangla Desh.
“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?
“Bangla Desh was a great little reunion. They loved playing with Ringo and me. Klaus Voorman was the principal bass player on Bangla Desh. 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 Monck was an essential part of the Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh.
Over the last 40 years Monck has been a consultant for Altman Stage Lighting Company, and earlier, Berkey Colortran in America and in the same capacity in Australia for Midtown Plaza in Melbourne, and SOCOG Sydney 2000 for advisory opening / closing ceremonies.
Now based in Melbourne, Australia, and running Primera Enterprises, E.H.B. “Chipmonck” is developing the production of the One Great Night On Earth Festival. his endeavor will help raise funds to help Australians whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by environmental disaster. www.chipminck.com
In a telephone interview from Australia, Chip Monck discussed his lighting concepts and the techniques he employed at the monumental Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh. And obviously I came along with it.
“I never met Phil Spector at Bangla Desh,. 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.
“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 Bangla Desh.”
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.
“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.”
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 chauffeur 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 high point at the Bangla Desh 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 “Bangla Desh” 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 discovered his Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh’ 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 ..’”
"George may have always been the Quiet One," recalls lifelong Beatlemaniac Gary Pig Gold, "but today I think he would be called instead the Deep Beatle. Always grinning that sly, close-to-the-turtleneck smile, let's remember he always had just the right solo and diminished chord for the proceedings, plus was the first to fly highest when the Fabs splintered. Free as a bird. "It's just no surprise then that such a kindred musical spirit as Ravi Shankar recognized this deep blueness within George Harrison, and duly approached him when his country called. Of course George being George, he put his guitar where most would put only their money, and when he made his own calls, all answered. Eric, Billy, Leon, Ringo, and even blue-jeaned Bob to name but the obvious. The Concert for Bangla Desh made that first big helping splash, proving that rock 'n' roll trumped mere governments. And the world may not necessarily be a better place for it today, but it's definitely a wiser one.
"Of course George himself was ALWAYS wise. And his heart was always as large as the spirit it carried, then and now. After all, isn't it usually the Quiet ones you have to watch??"
"Of course George himself was ALWAYS wise. And his heart was always as large as the spirit it carried, then and now. After all, isn't it usually the Quiet ones you have to watch??"
“The Sitar in ‘Norwegian Wood’ foreshadowed George Harrison's heartfelt fascination towards the artistic & meditative merits of Indian Culture,” suggests Morley Bartnoff, musician, keyboardist in the stage play “Just imagine.”
“I remember thinking that when The Concert of Bangladesh happened it felt as if a lot of the spiritual questions George was asking in ‘All Things Must Pass’ in regards to his star power were answered.
“By providing the world with the first ever benefit concert, George opened the door for major rock artists to use their successes to give back and provide relief both artistically and financially The Concert For Bangladesh forever changed the way the world looked at the possibilities of Rock & Roll Music. Thank You George Harrison.”
In 1966 George Harrison penned a jacket sleeve endorsement for the Phil Spector produced Ike & Tina Turner "River Deep, Mountain High" album when it was first unleashed on the world. “It is a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn't improve on it." John Lennon called it a “masterpiece.
In April 2011, Universal Music Enterprises re-released River Deep-Mountain High” album on CD.
During 1971 Phil Spector hosted a showing of the Ravi Skankar movie “Raga” inside a screening room at his Sunset Blvd. office. Harrison, Shankar and select friends were in attendance that evening. George and Phil had a lot of fun together.
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 Bangla Desh” which happened the day he turned age 18.
“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.”
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.
“Ravi 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 Bangla Desh August 1, 1971 outing.
“George Harrison’s Bangla Desh tour takes it white suburban audience to Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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.
At the concert for Bangla Desh, 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 Bangla Desh 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, 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 Bangla Desh) 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 Bangla Desh 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.
In April of 2008 I was invited by co-owner Henry Diltz to The Morrison Hotel Gallery in Hollywood to see images Pattie shot during her life in “The Photography of Pattie Boyd.” Henry cosmically set the scene. “Pattie meet Harvey. Another Pisces. February 26th.”
“My … That’s a good way to start … ”
This is how I roll.
It was well documented that Pattie and George had concerns about Bob Dylan showing up at the Bangla Desh booking. Although she was quite 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 Bangla Desh.
“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 Bangla Desh, 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 Bangla Desh, 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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh story to the adoring throng.
“Nobody really knew Bob Dylan was coming, including us, ‘cause he was our 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 “Bangla Desh” 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.
“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 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, 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.”
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 Bangla Desh 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 Bangla Desh 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.
“Bangla Desh 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.”
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 after he died on November 29th of the same year.
Shankar published his autobiography “Raga Mala” in September 2001 that was edited and introduced by George Harrison.
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” is scheduled to premiere on Oct 5th or 6th on HBO. Director Martin Scorsese has been working with Harrison’s widow Olivia for the last four years on this film.
-- Harvey Kubernik
I didn't know that Harvey Kubernik was on the Forgotten Hits mailing list. He's a very knowledgeable guy who came out and sat in on some of the music history classes I taught at UCLA between 1977 and 1982 (before I moved to New York). On one occasion, Harvey brought a photographer and had snapped the only photos ever taken of me in action as a university professor. I wonder if he still has any of those ... I never saw any prints, but would love to get copies for my archive. I didn't know about his book but I am sure it is not only good but very insightful. I'll have to pick up a copy.
I sent a note on your behalf to Harvey but haven't heard anything back ... chances of him hanging on to that photo for 30-something years are pretty slim, I'm sure ... but if I do, I'll be sure to let you know what he says. (And we'll run your request here on the website today, too, just in case!) kk
George Harrison was clearly moved by what his friend Ravi Shankar had told him about the situation in Bangla Desh. He even wrote a song in attempt to draw attention to the situation. (Unfortunately, it wasn't a very good one ... but despite this fact, the power of pure "anything to do with Beatle-dom" propelled it to #20 on The Cash Box Chart. The flip-side was the completely charming and captivating "Deep Blue", a non-LP cut that it one of George's best. Radio should have flipped the record over and given George a legitimate hit ... but the cause of Bangla Desh FAR outweighed the cause of George Harrison's solo musical career and, in the end, the right choice was made. "Deep Blue" DID chart as a "tag-along" B-Side ... and it's still one of my all-time favorite George tracks ... just a GREAT feel on this tune!) kk