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THE EVERLASTING APPEAL OF THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH

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George Harrison, was one of the main coordinators of the Concert for Bangladesh, held at Madison Square Garden, New York, on 1 August 1971 to raise international awareness and funds for Bangladesh’s liberation war. Harrison ended the concert with the song ‘Bangladesh, Bangladesh’.

With such names as Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, and finally, Bob Dylan, involved, the concert would have been an enormous success no matter how it was planned or run. But part of the record’s beauty is that Harrison staged a concert worthy of his purpose in every respect.

Taslima Tariq, 19, an avid fan of The Beatles and a student in the Global studies and governance department at Independent University of Bangladesh, says, “It makes me fill up with zeal when I think about Harrison coming forward to help us during the war, makes me put a lot of things into perspective. Harrison being such a famous and charismatic musician — to be moved by something happening so many miles away.” Indeed the art and music of that time screamed out the religion of love and humanity. Hrithik Kabir, 21, a student of literature in Dhaka University, also speaks along that same line. “It was the time! The concert of Bangladesh was the cherry on top of the exuberantly liberating and revolutionary decade the sixties and the early seventies was. It inspires me greatly.”

As a musician and a fellow lover of rock music, Ashraf, 17, says “Music is magic, music works when words and actions fail, Harrison, Ringo, Clapton, Dylan, Ravi Shankar – they are miniature gods who created time bending music. Music which moved people and open up their eyes about what was happening around the world besides the comfort of their houses, it made them wake up. I would like to wake people up with the music I make someday as well.” The Shankar-Harrison duo awed many, the east meets west and the exotic tales relating to the fusion of rock and classical intrigued the music enthusiasts of that time and even now. As Sharmeen Islam, 24, student of business at North South University puts it —

“The intermingling of the magnificent guitar shredding of the rock gurus and Shankar’s iconic classical melodies is what stimulates me about the concert, goes to show how appreciation of different cultures is so important and prove to be so valuable.” Keeping this on one hand, Maruf Ahmed an tenth grader clad in his black T-shirt with the lyrics on “Bangladesh” written on it tells us, “They did it for my motherland, my country, my pride and that is what makes me surge up with emotions and respect for the ones who stood up against the tyranny of 71 in their own ways.”

This concert remains an iconic moment and still inspires the youth of Bangladesh as if it happened yesterday.

source:thedailystar

TOMMY CHONG TALKS UNRELEASED GEORGE OUTTAKES FROM ‘BASKETBALL JONES’ SESSION

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Among the many notable music names who contributed to Cheech & Chong’s comic 1973 hit “Basketball Jones” was the late George Harrison, who played lead guitar on the session. And we may be hearing more where that came from.

“We’ve got a ton of outtakes, where he’s trying different things,” Tommy Chong tells Billboard. “We’ve got all of that in the can that we’re going to spring on people eventually, one day. That’d be great.”
Chong did not voice any specific plans for releasing the Harrison material. This year marks the 45th anniversary of “Basketball Jones” and the duo’s Los Cochinos album, but Cheech & Chong have been focused primarily on celebrating the 40th anniversary of their film Up In Smoke.
“Basketball Jones,” a spoof on Brighter Side of Darkness’ “Love Jones,” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, higher than the original. Other musicians on the track included Carole King, Billy Preston, Tom Scott, Klaus Voorman and Nicky Hopkins, among others, while Darlene Love and Michelle Phillips were among the “cheerleaders” heard on the song. Chong, meanwhile, brought Harrison to the party.
“George and I were buddies,” he recalls. “George and I used to smoke quite a bit when we’d meet once in a while at different places. He was in the studio at A&M at the same time we were doing ‘Basketball Jones,’ so Lou (Adler) asked him to come in and do a little guitar riff for us. And George is George; He literally made that song. I had Alexa play ‘Basketball Jones’ by Cheech & Chong, and the guitar riff is so good…'”
George was recording his 1973 album Living In the Material World at the time.

source:billboard

PATTIE BOYD SAYS SHE NEGLECTED HERSELF IN HER ROCK STAR MARRIAGES

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She met George Harrison on the set of A Hard Day’s Night – she played a schoolgirl – and they married when she was 21. They moved into Friar Park, a gothic pile in Hampshire where the Beatles came to record, friends drove from London to stay and she threw herself into decorating, cooking and entertaining. She was, she says, blissfully in love but often lonely: wives and girlfriends were not allowed on tour and Harrison was frequently absent. After the Beatles had discovered the Maharishi Yogi and they all went to India to learn meditation, Harrison returned gripped by eastern mysticism. “He chanted a lot,” she recalls, “it’s difficult to talk to someone who’s chanting.”
He had also discovered that he was attractive to women: “He was famous, good-looking, had tonnes of money and flash cars – what a combo. Girls were offering themselves everywhere and he loved it. To come home to old wifey must have been a bit dull.”
Does she think all men would be like that if they could? “Yes I do,” she says firmly. What constrains them? She shrugs: “Society, women, family?”

Eric Clapton had been a frequent visitor to Friar Park, laying siege to Boyd and, famously, playing a guitar “duel” with Harrison in the kitchen: she was the putative prize. “It was John Hurt [the actor] who described it as a duel,” she says, “and he was so on the button. I sensed it but I hadn’t formulated it.”

She was attracted to Clapton, by then a rock deity – the legend “Clapton is God” was spray-painted on city walls – but determined to stay in her marriage. Her parents had split up when she was 10, her stepfather was a cruel and unusual man who tyrannised the family and left her mother for another woman: “As a child I always thought I would do anything to avoid divorce.”
By the time she left Harrison – “He didn’t want us to be together, it was a life of rejection” – Clapton had made good on his threat to take heroin if he couldn’t have her. It would be four years before they got together.

Propped on an easel beside the window of Boyd’s flat is a rather beautiful black and white photograph of John Lennon. Did she take it? “No, I bought it.” Wasn’t he the most interesting of the four? “He was, yes, he was. He was quite volatile, you never knew what he would say next. He was a pretty sexy guy actually.” Did they have a fling? “No!” she exclaims. I explain I’d seen it suggested somewhere in a newspaper article. “How cheeky,” she says comfortably. Later, reading her autobiography published in 2007, I find another reference to the rumoured liaison. True or not, I don’t think she minds the idea.
Boyd and Clapton married in 1979: “I was madly passionate about him,” she says. “We lived at Hurtwood Edge [Clapton’s home for the past 50 years], I was in my 30s and ready to have babies; I used to wander round the house thinking, this will be the baby’s room, the nanny can sleep here.” But it was not to be: despite visits to a series of doctors and several rounds of IVF, the longed-for baby never arrived.
Clapton, meanwhile, had replaced heroin with alcohol and was drinking heroically. Boyd joined him on tour where he and the band would have girls to their rooms after the show. Cruellest of all, two of his extra-marital relationships produced babies: a daughter Ruth and two years later a son, Conor, who would die, aged four, in a fall from the window of his mother’s New York apartment. Boyd and Clapton divorced in 1988.
Asked once who was the great love of her life, Boyd nominated Harrison: “I think he always loved me … Eric loves himself. She admits now: “In both my marriages I had neglected myself, and got lost in a big cloud of fame, I got lost in their lives.”
When the music stopped Boyd found herself with a legacy – cardboard boxes full of photographs which she exhibits and sells as prints from her online gallery. They are the archive of an era: here is an angelic George lying in bed in an Indian ashram, Eric in a woodshed leaning on an axe and looking Lawrentian in corduroy trousers, Paul and Linda McCartney at Boyd’s wedding to Eric, Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull at the Brixton Academy. They are candid and intimate: did anyone ever object? “No, not at all,” she says, surprised, “I would never show a photo where someone’s not looking good.”

The collection has been a useful earner for the girl who left school with three O levels and had no need to work while married to rich men. She has continued to take photographs – portraits of actors for their books and pictures from her travels. Does the contemporary work sell? “No one’s really interested,” she says without rancour.
Freddie needs a walk so we put on coats and set off for Holland Park where the trees are still leafless but there are daffodils and a hint of spring. Boyd has been with her partner, property developer Rod Weston, for 20 years – “we are old friends” – and they wed in 2015. They share the Kensington flat and a cottage in Sussex bought for her by Clapton. Why did they decide to marry? “We have lots of nieces and nephews between us,” she says, “we wanted to put everything in order so there wouldn’t be any tears.” We walk on a few paces: “It’s funny,” she says, “Rod has been much nicer since we married and I am happier and less selfish. I didn’t anticipate that.”
She remained friends with Harrison until his death from cancer in 2001 and has stayed in touch with Clapton, many years sober and married with three more children. Last year she accompanied him to the launch of a documentary about him, A Life in 12 Bars, in which she features, naturally. “He rang me and said, ‘It’s a bit raw Pattie, I hope you’ll be OK.’ I said, ‘I’ll be fine Eric. I’m a grown-up now.”

George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me: An Evening with Pattie Boyd will be held at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel on May 15. Boyd’s work will be shown at the Blender Gallery in Paddington from May 5 to June 2 as part of the Head On Photo Festival.

source:smh.com.au

GEORGE’S GHOST WRITER OF DAILY EXPRESS

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Before becaming the Beatles Press office, Derek Taylor was a columnist of the Daily Express.
Taylor describes him as “a very talkative man, with as much interest in expressing himself as anyone else and maybe more than most”. But he’d always been a bit of a clown – there was the time in a hotel when he offered his foot, rather than hand.

One day i went to see Brian Epstein, Derek recalls, becasue i wanted to publish on the newspaper a weekly article wrote by one of the Beatles personally.  I tought George could have been the right one.
And i told epestein : “ he doesn’t really ha sto write, i will instead of him, we just will have some talking about whatever, and i will write the article. The weird idea went on and successfully.
With The Beatles’ profile in the ascendant, Taylor’s editors floated the idea of a column supposedly authored by a Beatle, to be ghostwritten by Taylor. George Harrison was chosen, and was initially given approval of Taylor’s copy. However, the first installment didn’t go quite as well as planned.
And with Taylor’s proddings, George talks about his childhood in a decent, “upper-working-class” Liverpool family. There were the usual privations

“It was cold in those times, cold. We only had one fire and we had to warm up the the beds with a bottle of hot water”. But his only real complaints were about school, which he hated (“awful … That’s when the darkness came in”). He left early, with no qualifications, his musical talents unnoticed by teachers. But he’d met Paul McCartney on the school bus and, by the time he was 17, the group they had formed was taking off.
What happened next, the years of the Beatles, is a story George more or less omits to tell. One minute he’s playing gigs with Paul, John and Stuart Sutcliffe in Hoylake; the next it’s 1969, the group has broken up. I play a little guitar, write a few tunes, make a few movies, but none of that’s really me,” George Harrison once said. “The real me is something else.” He preached piety and simple pleasures, yet he lived in a 120-room mansion and collected ultra high-end cars.
“I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion, and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.”
“My Sweet Lord” “I thought a lot about whether to do ‘My Sweet Lord’ or not, because I would be committing myself publicly (to my beliefs) and I anticipated that a lot of people might get weird about it. Many people fear the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God.’  makes them angry for some reason.
When beatles plit up Phil Spector went to see him  “’Y’know, you ought to consider making an album.’ Spector recalls, and he said, ‘I have a few ditties’ for you to hear.’ It was endless! He literally had hundreds of songs — and each one was better than the rest. He had all this emotion built up when it released to me.”

source:videomuzic.eu

“WONDERWALL MUSIC”: THE FIRST SOLO ALBUM

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Released three weeks before the Beatles’ monolithic White Album in November 1968, Wonderwall Music marked a number of “firsts” in the world of Beatledom: It was the first solo album by a member of the band, as well as the inaugural LP to be issued on the Apple record label.

For his part, George had conducted several of the recording sessions for the soundtrack in the heart of India, where he had access to an array of exotic sounds and instruments. Directed by Massot, Wonderwall was unabashedly an art film with high-minded storytelling pretensions. The movie traces the life and work of an introverted scientist named Oscar Collins (played by Jack MacGowran), who becomes obsessed with his neighbors, especially the aptly named Penny Lane (Jane Birkin), a delectable model. The “wonderwall” of the film’s title refers to a shaft of light that streams through a hole in the wall that separates their apartments, illuminating Penny while she poses during a photo session. As time passes, Oscar’s obsession begins to overwhelm him, and soon he drills even more holes in order to observe Penny’s every move.

George understood implicitly that the film’s success depended upon a deftly constructed soundtrack that captured the nuances of Oscar’s runaway mounting obsession. At EMI’s Bombay facility, George recorded a series of ragas for the Wonderwall Music soundtrack, while also preparing the instrumental track for a new composition — destined to be the B-side of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” single — entitled “The Inner Light.”

As Massot later recalled during an interview with Spencer Leigh, “I asked George at the opening of the Beatles’ boutique if he would like to do the music for Wonderwall. I told him that it was a silent film and his music would provide the emotion for the characters. Quincy Jones told me that it was the greatest soundtrack he had heard, but the movie was too far out for some audiences. It did well in London, though.”

While Massot’s Wonderwall had difficulty finding an audience, Harrison’s Wonderwall Music established new inroads for World Music as a rapidly evolving genre. As Mojo’s Michael Simmons observed, Harrison’s LP was a “groundbreaking blend of Bombay and London.” Working alongside the likes of John Coltrane and Yehudi Menuhin, the Quiet Beatle had succeeded in transforming authentic Indian sounds into commercial success.

As The White Album dominated the global LP charts into the winter months of 1969, Wonderwall Music succeeded in cracking the American Top 40, a remarkable feat for a genre that was all but invisible to Western audiences only a few scant years earlier. Having successfully imported Indian music and philosophy to the West, George proved that the Beatles were world-breakers in more ways than the fans watching The Ed Sullivan Show on a fabled Sunday night back in February 1964 could even possibly have imagined.

source:culturesonar

GEORGE’S 1963 VISIT TO BENTON GARNERS AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY

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“Whenever you say ‘Beatles’ – that’s the magic word,” said Springfield-based filmmaker and super-Beatle fan Robert Bartel. He would know. His 1999 documentary A Beatle in Benton, Illinois – which details a single fortnight visit to the southern Illinois town in 1963 by 20-year-old George Harrison in order to see his married sister – is not only a consistent seller nationwide but has bizarrely managed to win Bartel a best documentary “Oscar” statuette 19 years after the film’s initial release (a 240-minute, two-DVD version was released in 2016).

Harrison and his brother, Peter, arrived in Benton on Sept. 17, 1963. The Beatles were already superstars in England and across Europe but were still unknown in the United States. (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” would be released stateside and go straight to number one on the Billboard charts in January of 1964.) “Ringo was supposed to come with them but he backed out because he wanted to go with Paul to Paris,” said Bartel, matter-of-factly. “John was in Spain having his, uh, thing with [Beatles manager] Brian Epstein.”
George’s sister, Louise, had settled in Benton after marrying a Scotsman named Gordon Caldwell who, after stints in the Arctic Circle and in Peru, had found work in Franklin County as an engineer with Freeman Coal (now Freeman Energy), headquartered in Springfield. George, just 20 at the time, was nicknamed “that skinny little kid from England” by locals. Already wealthy from the success of the Fab Four in Europe, Harrison did his part to stimulate the southern Illinois economy during his visit, having arrived with scads of cash. He reportedly bought giant stacks of records from a Benton record store (including the original version of his future solo hit “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”) as well as purchasing a Rickenbacker guitar (rare in the UK) from Red Fenton’s music store in Mt. Vernon. Harrison was also introduced to Gerald “Gabe” McCarty, leader and bass player of local rock ’n’ roll combo The Four Vests, and sat in with the band on some Chuck Berry tunes during a concert at the Benton VFW hall on Sept. 28, 1963. Soon after, The Four Vests learned the entire Please Please Me LP (still unreleased in America) from the copy Louise had received in the mail from her mother, making them the first Beatles cover band. On Sept. 28, Louise, George and Peter went to West Frankfort, where they persuaded the on-air DJ to make WFRX the first radio station in the United States to spin a Beatles record (“From Me To You”).

Bartel’s documentary began as an act of preservation. In 1994, he was working as a licensed private detective when a case took him to Benton by chance. “My wife, Janice, and I had seen Louise Harrison at BeatleFest in ’93 and ’94, talking about her time living in Benton,” Bartel said. “While I was working that case in town I looked up Gordon Caldwell in the phone directory for 1964, got the address and went over there.” Bartel was shocked to see a backhoe sitting against the back of the house. “I thought, what are they doing? They can’t tear this house down, the Beatle people will go nuts!” Bartel canvassed the neighborhood and learned that the Mines and Minerals department of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had plans to use the space for a parking lot. “No way!” Bartel said, reliving his reaction. “I’m going to lay down in front of this backhoe – civil disobedience, whatever – they’re not going to tear down this house, I’ve got to get ahold of Louise and she’s going to fly in and save the day.”
Soon, Bartel rallied District 12 Senator Jim Ray, the Illinois governor’s office, Congressman Glenn Poshard and the mayor of Benton to his cause and halted the demolition plans. The house now operates as The Hard Day’s Night Bed and Breakfast. The publicity led to Danny Malkovich, who owned the Benton Evening News, contacting Bartel with the story of how he and his brother, future famed actor John Malkovich, met George and Peter Harrison on the Benton town square. The oddball story of the two future celebrities’ chance 1963 meeting soon went out on the Associated Press wire, resulting in what Bartel described as six months of international phone calls attempting to verify the anecdote.
As for the documentary itself, Bartel – who, along with his wife, has accumulated enough Beatles memorabilia over the years to run a museum out of his home – says the production was largely done on the spot. “I interviewed all the principal people and then went to the principal locations,” he said. “I was preserving Illinois history – and as a Beatle fan I wasn’t trying to ignore the fact that one of the most famous icons in the world came to a little hillbilly town in southern Illinois.” In 1999, the film won documentary awards at both the Berkeley film festival and the Brooklyn Film Institute

The 50th anniversary version of A Beatle in Benton, Illinois was released on DVD in 2016, which attracted the attention of a company called Red Carpet Concierge International, which holds an annual “regional Oscar” ceremony (not affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) on Feb. 24 in Chicago. Bartel, who had been nominated in the “best writer” category for a different project, was blindsided when his name was called to receive the award for best documentary. “It was at the JC Martini Club,” he recalled. “There were all kinds of Frenchies and Italians there, everybody’s kissin’ everybody and talking in foreign languages and I hear my name get called for best documentary. I almost lost my mind!”
Bartel’s involvement in a dangerous multi-car highway accident on the way back to Springfield after the ceremony – in the aftermath of which he and his “Oscar” statuette traveled together in an ambulance – did little to dampen his sense of pride and accomplishment. “It’s an Illinois story, it’s a Beatle story, it’s historical, and I connected the dots,” he said.

source:illinoistimes