On November 29, 2002, the first anniversary of George Harrison’s passing, The Concert for George was staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The event marked its 20-year anniversary recently.
The event was planned by Olivia Harrison, the widow of Harrison, and Dhani Harrison, his son, with Eric Clapton serving as musical director. Harrison formed the Material World Charitable Foundation, which received the event’s proceeds.
The Sarvesham chant, a traditional Sanskrit invocation, was followed by Indian music, beginning with Your Eyes by Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar’s daughter. Anoushka Shankar, Dhani Harrison, and Jeff Lynne then performed The Inner Light, which was followed by a specially composed song by Ravi Shankar called Arpan (Sanskrit for “to give”).
The surviving four Monty Python actors—Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Python writer Neil Innes—performed Sit on My Face as part of a comedic interlude that followed. Michael Palin then appeared as an obnoxious announcer and revealed that his only career goal had always been to work as a lumberjack. He then sang The Lumberjack Song with the Pythons, Innes, Carol Cleveland, Tom Hanks, and The Fred Tomlinson Singers.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the remaining Beatles, Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, Jools Holland, Albert Lee, Sam Brown, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Ray Cooper, Andy Fairweather-Low, Marc Mann, Dave Bronze, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, and a number of other musicians who had appeared on Harrison’s recordings performed with George’s Band for the remainder of the concert.
They basically adhered to Harrison’s arrangements as they performed a selection of his songs, primarily from the Beatles and post-Beatles eras.
The incident was captured on camera, and David Leland and Academy Award–winning cinematographer Chris Menges created a motion picture version that was published on DVD on November 17, 2003. On the same day, a compact disc version was also issued, but it lacked the Monty Python and Sam Brown songs. Rhino Records issued a Blu-ray version on March 22, 2011.
The concert was released on vinyl for the first time and made its premiere on streaming services in 2018 to commemorate what would have been Harrison’s 75th birthday.