03 August 2009

When Music Got Down With a Cause

I know, I know. I could be blogging about this weekend's big music story, the rapper Drake bustin' his ass onstage after he'd already torn his ACL a month ago (good luck with the surgery, man!). Or I could talk extensively about how on 1 August 1981, Music Television made its debut on cable with the clip "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles (which just reminds me what MTV used to be and that MTV now sucks, as I've mentioned a few times before on this blog).

Instead, I wanted to commemorate 1 August 1971, The Concert For Bangla Desh (the original title). Ravi Shankar, the sitarist from India, was gravely concerned about the refugee situation in East Pakistan (as Bangladesh was originally known) and he called his buddy George Harrison for his help. Harrison decided to rally some of his friends and put on a concert to raise money for the cause. Shankar, Harrison, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, and Bob Dylan were among the musicians who performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the first gathering of its kind, a precursor of such benefits as Live Aid and Farm Aid. Also, it was a rousing success, raising millions of dollars for UNICEF, the United Nations' Children's Fund.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who hails from Bangladesh told me that his people are still grateful to George Harrison for calling attention to his country and its plight, especially since as a newer country, many folks around the world had never even heard of it.

By the way, you can still donate to George Harrison's UNICEF fund.

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