Beliefnet
The impact George had on our spiritual lives can be traced back to at a party in London in the mid-60's, where he met the sitarist Ravi Shankar. His acquaintance with Shankar would also come to revolutionize rock's role in our political lives. In late 1970, Shankar was deeply concerned about the civil war raging in what was then East Pakistan. "I was at that time planning to give a benefit show and maybe raise 20,000, 25,000, 30,000 dollars," Shankar recalled in a 1997 interview with George on VH-1. " George happened to be in Los Angeles at that time and he saw how unhappy I was, and I told him. He said, "That's nothing, let's do something big."

That something big was the first all-star rock fundraising concert, held at Madison Square Garden in 1971. The Concert for Bangladesh, organized to send funds to UNICEF on

In His Own Words Harrison on spirituality, meditation, and more.Deepak on GeorgeDeepak Chopra on his friend's relationship with eastern religion and Jesus Christ.QuizHow much do you know about the spiritual side of the Fab Four?
behalf of children starving because of the war, was a command performance. Within weeks of his conversation with Shankar, he'd gotten committments from some of the biggest acts in rock to perform for free. " It was the birth of the rock benefit," says David Bender, co-author with David Crosby of "Stand and Be Counted," a history of the benefit movement. "It was the inspiration and the model for all of the major rock benefits." Woodstock had shown that modern music could bring people together as a community. "What George did with Bangladesh was focus what we saw at Woodstock. He showed that we could affect what matter to us directly," says Bender.

The concert was a variety show in which most of the headliners played on stage together (unlike Woodstock, where acts had followed one another). The first part was heavily Indian, with Shankar leading off, before George, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston and Leon Redbone took over. Dylan's performance, most who attended agree, was the highlight of the evening.

In the end, the funds were tied up by the IRS (George's moneyman neglected to work through a nonprofit corporation) and it took years for UNICEF get the $9 million raised. George in a later interview said the money was only half the point: "Mainly the concert was to attract attention to the situation that was happening at one time. The money we raised was secondary. Little Bengali waiters in Indian restaurants still come up to me and say, "When we were fighting in the jungle, it was so great to know there was someone out there supporting us."

"It was about consciousness raising," says Bender. "It served George's higher purpose. Benefit concerts don't just provide a conduit for checks, people's attitudes change. Their awareness of the problem goes beyond the money. Two, ten, twenty years down the road, George was saying, you still have to pay attention."

Eight years later, a group of mostly worn-looking '60s rockers gathered in the No Nukes concerts-beginning with a show in Madison Square Garden. The logistical problems of assembling the top acts of the day--Dylan and Clapton

In His Own Words Harrison on spirituality, meditation, and more.Deepak on GeorgeDeepak Chopra on his friend's relationship with eastern religion and Jesus Christ.QuizHow much do you know about the spiritual side of the Fab Four?
were heavily scheduled at the time; George was the first Beatle sighted on stage in five years--were a singular achievment. George credited John Lennon for his blind faith that he could pull the event off: " I picked up a lot of that by being a friend o John's. Just that attitude of, well we'll just go for it, just do it."

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