From Bangladesh to Manchester, here’s how celebs have put on a show for good
A star-encrusted telethon Tuesday will raise money for victims of Harvey, the hurricane turned tropical storm that decimated eastern Texas and parts of Louisiana, with proceeds benefiting the United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and other nonprofits.
“Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” — which boasts appearances from Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Barbra Streisand — also plans to “expand its beneficiaries” to include any victims of Hurricane Irma, which has wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and could hit Florida over the weekend. “We are prepared to help in any way we can,” organizers announced.
The telethon airs live at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC and CMT, with telecasts from Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. With celebrity altruism in the air, take a look back at some of the most famous benefit concerts over the years:
The Concert for Bangladesh (1971)
A humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh spurred late sitar king Ravi Shankar to approach Beatles guitarist George Harrison, and the two organized a pair of Madison Square Garden benefit concerts. The lineup, along with Harrison and Shankar, featured Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston and Leon Russell. “What happened is now history: it was one of the most moving and intense musical experiences of the century,” Shankar later wrote.
How much it raised: An initial $250,000 for UNICEF, but reportedly almost $12 million by 1985 from recording proceeds
Live Aid (1985)
Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof and Scottish musician Midge Ure organized dual July 13 shows at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium and London’s Wembley Stadium to raise funds for famine in Ethiopia, wrangling a dizzying number of acts including David Bowie, Phil Collins, Sting, Run-D.M.C., the Beach Boys, Madonna and Patti LaBelle. The TV broadcast reached an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. Geldof and Ure would go on to throw a nine-country “Live 8” concert 20 years later.
How much it raised: A reported $245 million
Farm Aid (1985)
The long-running benefit concert series was born in 1985 from Bob Dylan’s onstage musing during Live Aid: “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for our own farmers right here in America?” Co-organized by Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, the inaugural Sept. 22 show in Champaign, Ill., featured Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Orbison and others. Two years later, Nelson and Mellencamp accompanied family farmers to testify before Congress — ultimately leading to the passage of the Agricultural Credit Act, which helped family farmers avert foreclosure.
How much it raised: $7 million
America: A Tribute to Heroes (2001)
Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC banded together after the 9/11 terror attacks for a Sept. 21 telethon to raise money for victims and their families. Bruce Springsteen performed “My City of Ruins”; Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora played “Livin’ on a Prayer”; Willie Nelson sang “America the Beautiful” and Billy Joel was in a “New York State of Mind.”
How much it raised: About $150 million
The Concert for New York City (2001)
Paul McCartney put on the Oct. 20 Madison Square Garden show in support of the NYPD, the FDNY and their families a month later, featuring music direction from “Late Show” bandleader Paul Shaffer and performances from the Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Destiny’s Child and other marquee names.
How much it raised: $35 million, plus another $275,000 from auctions at the event
Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope (2005)
George Clooney headlined this benefit after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami claimed at least 230,000 lives across more than a dozen countries, with several musical performances (Roger Waters and Eric Clapton memorably sang “Wish You Were Here”) and appearances by ex-POTUSes George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
How much it raised: $18.3 million
A Concert for Hurricane Relief (2005)
Kanye West delivered his now-infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” ad-lib at this Sept. 2 post-Hurricane Katrina benefit, an NBCUniversal production that featured performances from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and others. Bush years later called West’s broadside on his administration’s disaster response “the all-time low” point of his presidency.
How much it raised: $50 million
Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast (2005)
The week-later collaboration among Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, the WB and UPN raised money for the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, with songs by Randy Newman, Neil Young, Mariah Carey and the Foo Fighters and appearances by Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck and Jason Alexander — plus a far less controversial performance from Yeezy.
How much it raised: $30 million
Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief (2010)
This charity telethon, soliciting humanitarian aid for the Haiti earthquake that killed at least 100,000, stationed hosts George Clooney in Los Angeles, Haiti native Wyclef Jean in New York and Anderson Cooper reporting from Haiti on Jan. 12. The night of music, which opened with Alicia Keys, later debuted as a compilation album.
How much it raised: More than $61 million
12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief (2012)
After Hurricane Sandy left at least 147 dead in the U.S., the Caribbean and Canada and thrashed New York and New Jersey with particular ferocity, aging rockers (and names like Kanye West and Alicia Keys) came out in full force. Billy Crystal cracked wise, surviving members of Nirvana joined forces with Paul McCartney, and Jersey natives Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi teamed up for “Born to Run” and “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
How much it raised: $50 million
One Love Manchester (2017)
Ariana Grande organized the June 4 benefit after a bombing outside her show on May 22 killed 22 people and injured another 250. Miley Cyrus, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas, Liam Gallagher and others lent their talents to the show at Greater Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground, proceeds of which went to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.
How much it raised: More than $12 million
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved