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August 1971








The Concerts for Bangla Desh are held at New York's Madison Square Garden. The two shows are put together by George Harrison out of concern for the starving people of the Bangla Desh nation, an issue brought to his attention by his mentor, master sitarist Ravi Shankar. Harrison assembles a star-studded band, including Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and Badfinger. Highlights include Leon's frenzied "Jumpin' Jack Flash," Ringo's flubbing the words to his hit "It Don't Come Easy" and a special unannounced -- but much rumored -- appearance by Bob Dylan. The most prominent no-show? John Lennon, who'd agreed to play solo as Harrison had asked -- until wife Yoko Ono found out she wasn't invited. A 3-LP Concert for Bangla Desh album will be released in December, staying on the charts for 41 weeks and peaking at #2. The event provided UNICEF with an immediate $250,000 relief check, with more coming in from future record sales.

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour begins its run on CBS-TV. The campy act of Sonny and Cher, whose chart-topping days as a duet are over but who still share a chemistry onstage, meshes perfectly: straight-man Sonny Bono opposite Cher's sexy, sassy persona, with little daughter Chastity Bono often brought in for a rousing finale of "I Got You Babe." It will run for 61 episodes through May 1974, when the couple announce they're going their separate ways both personally and professionally. After breaking up each tries solo efforts -- Sonny on ABC, followed by Cher on CBS -- but each flops. A professional reconciliation is arranged, though Cher is now married to rock singer Gregg Allman. But the magic's gone and so, too, is the show by summer's end in 1977.

Opening the door to normalized relations with Communist China, the U.S. (after 20 years of opposition) agrees to a United Nations seat for the country separate from and in addition to that of Taiwan.
Ringo Starr receives a gold record for his first hit 45, "It Don't Come Easy," which the drummer wrote himself.

Paul McCartney announces the formation of his first post-Beatles band, Wings. The lineup (which will shift frequently over the next several years) includes his wife, Linda, ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell, who'd played on McCartney's Ram album.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer's eponymously titled debut LP goes gold, heralding the progressive rock era. Each of the three has solid credentials: Emerson coming form the seminal rock/classical group the Nice, Lake from King Crimson, and Palmer from Atomic Rooster. The trio enjoys success through its breakup in 1979.
Procol Harum records a concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, portions of which will later be released as the album Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The orchestrated vesion of Procol Harum's "Conquistador" will become a surprise hit single.
Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention record Just Another Band from L.A. live at the University of California in Los Angeles. It is the last Zappa album to include former Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, who will soon leave to record on thier own as Flo and Eddie.

The Bee Gees attain their first of seven Number One records in America: "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." This is one of the last songs in the "old" Bee Gees style; after three years of commercial drought (1972-1974), they will discover
Barry Gibb's high falsetto and a disco beat, which will rejuvenate their career and give them six Number Ones between 1975 and 1979.

The Top Five
1. "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" - Bee Gees
2. "Mr. Big Stuff" - Jean Knight
3. "Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
4. "Draggin' the Line" - Tommy James
5. "You've Got a Friend" - James Taylor

Country-rock group the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band assembles a cross-generational array of traditional country-music legends including banjoist Earl Scruggs, fiddler Roy Acuff, guitarist Doc Watson and members of the Carter Family to record the triple LP Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Released in October 1972, the album peaks at #68 in its 32 weeks on the chart and is certified gold in May 1973.
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird announces that, as part of the continuing disengagement of American troops, South Vietnam has assumed responsibility for all ground operations in the Vietnam conflict, effective immediately.
Soul saxophonist King Curtis (born Curtis Ousley) is killed outside his New York apartment at age thirty-seven. According to police, Curtis had been quarreling with a group of people standing on the stoop of his building, when one of them stabbed him with a six-inch dagger. Curtis' tenor sax was first widely heard on the Coasters' 1957 hit "Yakety Yak," and he quickly became a highly sought-after sessionman.
Joan Baez stuns the pop world when the folk protest singer charts with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which will ascend to #3 in early October. Her only other Top 40 pop chart success in the decade won't come until 1975, with the #35 hit "Diamonds and Rust."
Thomas Wayne (Perkins) was a one-hit wonder whose claim to fame was the 1959 #5 hit "Tragedy." He went to the same Memphis high school as Elvis Presley and formed his backup group there, the female trio The Delons. He dies in a car accident near Memphis at age 31.

President Nixon suddenly imposes a 90-day wage, rent and price freeze. He also ends the convertability of dollars into gold.

King Curtis' funeral is held in New York City. The Reverend Jesse Jackson preaches the sermon, and Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Arthur Prysock, among others, sing. Others in attendance include Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Duane Allman and Herbie Mann.
Freda Payne, who previously has had hits with such fare as "Band of Gold," has a gold hit with "Bring the Boys Home," one of the few black anti-Vietnam War songs.
James Brown's tenth Number One R&B song, "Make It Funky," enters the R&B chart. It will reach #22 on the pop chart next month.

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