The Concert For Bangladesh was the event title for two benefit concerts organized by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, held at noon and at 7:00 p.m. on August 1, 1971, playing to a total of 40,000 people at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Organized for the relief of refugees from East Pakistan (now independent Bangladesh) after the 1970 Bhola cyclone and during the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities and Bangladesh Liberation War, the event was the first benefit concert of this magnitude in world history. It featured an all-star supergroup of performers that included Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Billy Preston, LeonRussell, Badfinger, and Ringo Starr.
The concert raised US$243,418.51 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. Sales of the album and DVD continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.
Ravi Shankar and the sarodist Ali Akbar Khan opened the concert with recital of Indian music consisting of the dhun, "Bangla Dhun".
Except for back-up roles in support of both the Delaney & Bonnie Blues Band and John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, it was the first live appearance for George Harrison since the breakup of The Beatles. Eric Clapton made his first public appearance since the end of the five-month Derek and the Dominos tour the previous December. Clapton was still in the grip of a heroin addiction, and had been unable to attend any rehearsals until the final soundcheck. This was the first live performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and may have been the first time the general public was made aware that it was Clapton who played the solo on The Beatles' recording.
Musical help was also on hand from Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, Badfinger, a large horn section put together by Jim Horn and other musicians, including Carl Radle, Jesse Ed Davis, Don Preston and a host of backing singers organized by Don Nix.
Bob Dylan made his first stage appearance since the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1969. Apart from sitting in for a few numbers with The Band on New Year 1972 and an unannounced appearance backing John Prine on harmonica at a Greenwich Village club, he did not play live again until January 1974.
The songs played and their sequence differ slightly between the afternoon and evening show.
George had invited John, Paul and Ringo. Paul declined, saying that the time wasn't right for a Beatles reunion, Ringo accepted as did John, at first, until he realised the invitation to perform did not extend to Yoko !