WOUB-HD to Broadcast ‘Concert for George’ March 17

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Although he’s often most remembered as “the quiet one,” George Harrison was an integral part of The Beatles. Besides being responsible for some of the most important Beatles tracks (“Something,” “Taxman,” “Within You Without You,” “Old Brown Shoe,” just to name a few,) Harrison also managed to lead the group into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds and Bob Dylan and eventually to Indian classical music. It is without a doubt that if the band hadn’t included the “quiet” voice of Harrison, the band – as well as pop music as a whole – would be quite different.

February 25, 2018 marked what would have been the late Beatles’ 75th birthday, and on that day the 2002 tribute concert to Harrison, the Concert for George, became available on a number of streaming services. On Saturday, March 17 at 10 p.m., WOUB-HD will broadcast the concert, which was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall on the one-year anniversary of Harrison’s death, November 29, 2002. You can find information on encore presentations of the program right here.

“The concert itself is good, I mean, it was just his personal friends who performed,” said Bryan Gibson, a lifelong Beatles fan, as well as WOUB’s FM Music Director and host of Crossing Boundaries.

“Yeah it was too bad that Bob Dylan was too much of a (jerk) to perform,” said Chris Pyle, owner of Donkey Coffee and a fellow avid Beatles fan. “I even looked it up, he didn’t even have anything else going on at that point. He had just finished a tour.”

The concert itself was organized by Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, and Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne. It features performances from the likes of Paul McCartney, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr, and others.

Harrison was known for his sense of humor, his taste for the spiritual, and for good old rock ‘n’ roll, and it is easy to see the tribute concert set up into a sort of triptych of those interests. The show starts with a Sanskrit invocation, the Sarvesham chant, followed by Indian music performed by Anoushka Shankar.

A comedy interlude follows, featuring the four surviving members of Monty Python: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and frequent Monty Python contributor Neil Innes. It should be noted that Harrison was a dedicated patron of Monty Python, and without his creation of the HandMade Films production and distribution company in 1978, the comedy group’s incredible Life of Brien would have never come to fruition. Harrison also appeared in the 1978 Beatles mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, which documented the rise of The Rutles, a Beatles parody group devised by Eric Idle and Neil Innes.

The rest of the concert featured performances by Harrison’s closest friends, who also happen to be some of the most important figures in pop music history.

“You know, I’ve been a Beatles fan since 1981, after the murder of John Lennon. And it’s very easy to gravitate towards Lennon and McCartney when you first listen to the Beatles,” said Pyle. “But, over the past seven or eight years, I’ve really become a lot more interested in George. At this point in my life I can really connect with George personality wise and in his interest in spirituality.”