ALL THE CONCERT(s) FOR BANGLADESH

  • Tickets were £1–25 in advance or £2 at the gates. Around £15,000 was raised for aid to Bangladeshi refugee causes and £3000 for Surrey Cricket Cub. Estimates of people attending suggest close to 40000 people got in, substantially more than capacity.
  • By all accounts it was a hot day aptly fitting its formal title “Goodbye to Summer- A rock concert in aid of famine relief of Bangla Desh “
  • A good-humoured all-day event with cricket and music fans, hippies and Hells Angels getting along, the police reportedly said in the morning ‘if you want us, we’ll be outside.’
  • The line-up included Lindisfarne, Mott The Hoople, America and The Faces. The Who headlined as the sun came down with a strong set and there was no chance of an encore as Townshend and Moon duly trashed their instruments.
  • “the main result was that we were able to attract attention to events over there in Bangla Desh, because while we were setting up the concert the Americans were shipping arms to Pakistan. Thousands were dying every day, but in the newspapers coming after Biafra, it was just a few lines saying “oh yeah, it’s still all going on….
  • …We attracted a lot of publicity turned it round and even now I still meet waiters in Bengali restaurants who say: “Oh, you Mr Harrison, When we were in the jungle fighting it was great to know somebody out there was thinking of us.”
  • It did have a good effect; it was a necessary morale booster for the Bengalis, and it shone a light on some of the Pakistani Hitler’s.” George Harrison 1980
  • Councillors in Weeley, near Clacton on Sea in Essex had with the local Round Table planned to put on a rock concert for charitable causes including Bangladesh via Save the Children and for Shelter and Release’s work on drugs/housing.
  • That year’s cancellation of the legendary Isle of Wight Festival led to the good burghers being overwhelmed by an avalanche of bands, causing a considerable amount of chaos as overbooking led to acts having to play in the very early morning and reportedly 100,000 people descending on the small town for the weekend.
  • One of the many popular if nowadays less famous acts on the Weeley bill was the Edgar Broughton Band, whose eponymous leader (and lifelong political activist) had earlier on 21 June 1971 launched Edgar Broughton’s Save A Life, an appeal in aid of the East Pakistani refugees in Bangladesh in the Daily Mirror newspaper with no less than “John Lennon and Yoko Ono, along with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, and T. Rex (among many others),” lending their support.
  • “Bangladesh was caca. I can’t even talk about it, because it’s still a problem. You’ll have to check with Mother [Yoko], because she knows the ins and outs of it, I don’t. But it’s all a rip-off. So forget about it. All of you who are reading this, don’t bother sending me all that garbage about, “Just come and save the Indians, come and save the blacks, come and save the war veterans,”…Anybody I want to save will be helped through our tithing, which is ten percent of whatever we earn.”
  • As can be gleaned from the transcript below, but which is better heard, Townshend is happy to answer the question and waxes lyrical with a paean to growing up in a multicultural part of West London. (“a mixed-race place”)
  • Unsurprisingly given the years that have past, he veers between remembering some things in detail, and saying “I don’t remember the concert.”
  • Taking his cue from a pre-question prompt noting that Rod Stewart recalls driving home from the Oval in his book, but it seems unmentioned in Roger Daltrey’s memoir last year, he quite reasonably says that would be bragging. He also relates a more eventful car drive home story than Stewart, which he initially phrases very alarmingly, and still sounds somewhat concerning but presumably at this distance just confirms it was a hot day with enough drink consumed for some people to be worse for wear.
  • Townshend also takes time to reflect thoughtfully on the work his own Double O charity did in supporting Erin Pizzey, the writer and pioneering activist and founder of Chiswick Women’s Aid and on the annual Royal Albert Hall music and comedy benefits Roger Daltrey fronts for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
  • I remember it very well, I can’t actually remember the concert. I remember the event. Rod Stewart kicked out I think 500 footballs into the crowd, which caused absolute chaos because they kept bouncing around two or three hours, all the way through our show.
  • I remember getting very drunk. Because the Faces used to know how to have a good time. They were good fun and Ronnie Lane was my best friend (he was the bass player in the Faces) We hung out and had fun.
  • I tried to give (my manager Chris Stamp’s) ex-wife a lift home and she started kicking off. She was in bad shape. I pushed her out of the car and she went through a shoe shop window and I thought she would be dead. So, I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable…
  • On not mentioning the Oval concert in memoirs
  • On charity gigs
  • On the Oval concert and growing up in “a really mixed place”

see below for further reading and Me Here Now

  • Biafra, 1967–1970: Ethical Dilemmas of Humanitarian Relief
  • John Lennon returns his MBE to the Queen
  • Rockfestivals.com archive
  • The Oval, drugs and rock’n’roll Martin Williamson
  • 1971 — Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Golden Year David Hepworth
  • I ME MINE by George Harrison — Genesis publications (1980)
  • A compendium of Bangladesh references in Western media/pop culture
  • The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary Bass

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NIAZ ALAM is London Bureau Chief of Dhaka Tribune. Hon. Secretary of the Foreign Press Association in 2018 and 2019, see niazalam.com, follow @ESGBangladesh