George Harrison’s 70th Birthday and the Concert for Bangladesh

George Harrison was born on February 25th, 1943 and would have turned 70 today.  He died in 2001 at the age of 58 from lung cancer.  I can still vividly recall going to Strawberry Fields in Central Park on that very sad day – the flowers, the guitars, the tears… On a happier note, many are celebrating the Beatle’s birthday today, and I am doing so by considering one of his significant contributions.The below video is from the Concert for Bangladesh on August 1st, 1971.  George and Ravi Shankar organized the charity event in an effort to raise awareness about and to fund relief efforts for refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, which gained independence from Pakistan in March of 1971) during a tumultuous time – the Bangladesh Liberation War and after the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, a tropical cyclone which killed hundreds of thousands of people.  Ravi told the story of how the event came together, saying:

I was in Los Angeles, hearing about this terrible tragedy: 100,000 refugees coming into Kolkata, and yet almost nobody knew about it… I felt I had to do something… I was in this terrible state of mind when George came to LA for a few days.  He saw I was looking so sad, he was really concerned, and so I asked if he could help me. Immediately he called his friends.

Those friends included Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton  Leon Russell and Ringo Starr, who all played that night as well.  The concert raised $243,000 overnight, and served as model for other Rock n Roll acts of philanthropy, such as Live Aid.  The event was followed up with a bestselling live album, a box set, and a concert documentary.  Sales of the live album and DVD continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF to this day.  His legacy truly lives on.

George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”

Many artists have covered “My Sweet Lord”, including including Andy Williams, Peggy Lee, Edwin Starr, Johnny Mathis, Nina Simone, Julio Iglesias, Elton John, Jim James, and Elliott Smith.

And the age-old classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” written by George

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