Thursday, March 1, 2007

Starr of the Show

Looking at the list of performers for the George Harrison led Concert for Bangladesh, I never would have thought it would be Ringo Starr who would have (in my mind, at least) the song and performance of the night. The concert was held on the afternoon and evening of August 1, 1971 to a total of 40,000 people at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the first benefit concert of its magnitude in world history, organized in just five weeks, and featured an all-star supergroup of performers that included Ringo, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Leon Russell, and of course, George Harrison.

The fascinating facts regarding the appearances included:

The first live appearance for George Harrison since the breakup of The Beatles

Bob Dylan's first stage appearance since the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1969.

Eric Clapton's first public appearance since the end of the five-month Derek and the Dominos tour the previous December

The first live performance of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' and the first time the public was made aware that that it was Clapton who played the solo on The Beatles recording

I always wondered why the remaining Beatles didn't participate in the show. It turns out that John Lennon agreed to take part in the concert, however Harrison stipulated that Lennon's wife Yoko Ono not perform with him (I loved Beatle George before, but now he's on another level!). Lennon agreed, but left New York two days before the event following an argument with Ono regarding his and Harrison's agreement that she not participate. Paul McCartney declined because of the bad feelings caused by The Beatles' legal problems on their break-up. Ringo Starr however, readily agreed to appear.

Even through all of the phenomenal performances, it was Ringo's spirited, catchy rendition of his single 'It Don't Come Easy' that just seemed to rise above the rest of the show. It is perfect pop music. How Ringo became known as the most untalented Beatle, or otherwise known as the luckiest man on earth, just never sat right with me. It is only fitting that there are rumors that George actually wrote the song. Ah Ringo, when will you ever get it easy?

Note: My second favorite moment of the night was the under appreciated Billy Preston singing 'That's The Way God Planned It'. Billy's wide, toothy smile, soulful voice, masterful organ work, and his spontaneous dance across the stage took the audience right to church. My love for Mr. Billy Preston is certainly worthy of another post.

Many of you may never have heard Ringo's 'It Don't Come Easy' which peaked at #4 on the U.S. album charts in 1971. Enjoy the video montage to Ringo's song below:

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