Fifty years ago today, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar put on the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden:
It was the first major charity concert of its kind — the Concert for Bangladesh. In that corner of South Asia, civil war, cyclone and floods had created a humanitarian disaster.
"There are six million displaced Bengalis, most of them suffering from malnutrition, cholera and also other diseases that are the result of living under the most dehumanizing conditions," former All Things Considered host Mike Waters reported in July of 1971.
The situation was deeply personal for Indian musician Ravi Shankar, a sitar virtuoso, whose family came from the region. So, Shankar reached out to a close friend, former Beatle George Harrison.
He marveled at the astonishing roster Harrison was able to attract. "You have a Beatle — two Beatles in fact — that you have Ringo Starr as well. You have Bob Dylan," Thomson says. "None of these people had played live particularly much in the preceding years. So, that was an event in itself. You have a stellar backing band, people like Eric Clapton." Including, of course, Shankar on the sitar.
What they did end up making went to UNICEF. That weekend alone raised around $240,000. Millions more came later, as a result of the subsequent album and movie, all with the goal of helping refugees.
And exactly ten years later, MTV was born. (And I still have a crush on Martha Quinn.)