It was recorded at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 1 August 1971, and featured a star-studded line-up including Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann, Ringo Starr, and Billy Preston.
The release of The Concert for Bangladesh was delayed for three months due to lengthy negotiations between Harrison and the labels EMI/Capitol and Columbia/CBS, who were eager to protect their business interests.
Both EMI/Capitol and Columbia/CBS, Bob Dylan’s label, believed they had a rightful claim to issue the album. In the end Columbia was given tape distribution rights in North America, and record and tape distribution in the rest of the world.
EMI/Capitol also insisted on monetary compensation for the production costs of the box set, to the tune of $500,000. The label eventually backed down and agreed to Harrison’s terms.
Only Columbia profited from the live album, making 25 cents from each copy sold. No royalties were paid to the performers. Harrison’s distaste for EMI’s actions, meanwhile, became a key factor in his decision to sign with A&M in January 1976.
The Concert For Bangladesh was released in the United States on 20 December 1971, and on 10 January 1972 in the UK.
The price of the lavish package was $12.98 in the US, and £5.50 in the UK, prices seen by many as exorbitant. Harrison had attempted to persuade the British Treasury to waive their tax entitlement for each sale which, if successful, would have lowered the prices.
Despite the high cost, The Concert For Bangladesh was a bestseller, and topped the charts in the Netherlands, Norway, and USA, as well as going top 10 in Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
In the US it spent six weeks at number two on the Billboard Top LPs chart, prevented from reaching the top by Don McLean’s American Pie. The live set did, however, top the Record World chart.
On 4 January 1972 the album was certified gold by the RIA, having sold over 500,000.
Also on this day...
- 2011: Paul McCartney live: Echo Arena, Liverpool
- 2010: Paul McCartney live: O2 Academy, Liverpool
- 2009: Paul McCartney live: The O2, Dublin
- 1974: UK album release: Dark Horse by George Harrison
- 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono are interviewed for CBC Weekend
- 1969: Television: John Lennon in conversation with Marshall McLuhan
- 1966: Recording: When I’m Sixty-Four
- 1966: Television: Reporting ’66
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1958: Live: wedding reception, Speke, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.