The official Beatles site, the George Harrison site, the iTunes Store, and a special site created just for the purpose all have it: that the 40th anniversary of the staging of “The Concert for Bangladesh”, and the subsequent release of the film and the records of the same name, will be suitably celebrated – only this time monies raised will go to UNICEF to assist those facing the 2011 disaster of famine in the Horn of Africa.
Forty years after the historic concert, which in 1971 raised so much to help the starving in Bangladesh, comes the first digital download of the music. The Beatles site carries this press release:
To celebrate the anniversary and honor Harrison’s legacy of giving back, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today announces 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 “Bangla Desh” 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 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.com/thebeatles, GeorgeHarrison.com and TheConcertForBangladesh.com.
When George Harrison was asked 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 groundbreaking 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.
Says 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.”
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.
See also this unusual LP copy of “The Concert for Bangladesh”.