Music royalty ready to rock Sandy benefit concert

NEW YORK — Music royalty from the Rolling Stones to Kanye West, including several artists with direct ties to the New York metropolitan area hit by superstorm Sandy, is gathering at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday for a benefit concert to help storm victims.

The sold-out “12-12-12” concert is being shown on 37 television stations in the United States and more than 200 others worldwide. It will be streamed on 30 websites, including on YouTube and Yahoo, and played on radio stations. Theaters, including 27 in the New York region and dozens more elsewhere, will also show it live. More than two billion people are expected to have access to the performance.

Proceeds from the show will be distributed through the Robin Hood Foundation.

The late October storm left parts of New York City underwater and millions of people in several states without heat or electricity for weeks. Sandy is blamed for at least 125 deaths, including 104 in New York and New Jersey, and destroyed or damaged 305,000 housing units in New York alone.

Concert performers Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi are native sons of New Jersey, where boardwalks and beach homes were ripped apart. Long Islander Billy Joel (“New York State of Mind”) and New Yorker Alicia Keys (“Empire State of Mind”) have signature songs about the city. Even Liverpool’s Paul McCartney has a New York office, Hamptons home and a wife, Nancy Shevell, who spent a decade on the board of the agency that runs New York’s public transit system.

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones wasn’t in New York for the storm but has an apartment in the city that was flooded with some two feet of water, he said.

“Imagine you hadn’t known it was coming,” he said in an interview. “It would have been pretty dire. I think it’s good to do events to support people in the area where you’re very familiar with. I mean, I’ve been coming here for a long time.”

Other artists expected to perform include Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl, Chris Martin, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder and the Who.

It’s a lineup heavily weighted toward classic rock, which has the type of fans able to afford a show where ticket prices ranged from $150 to $2,500. Even with those prices, people with tickets have been offering them for more on broker sites like StubHub, an attempt at profiteering that producers fumed was “despicable.”

Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart, Sean Combs, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brian Williams will also be on hand to tell stories about the storm and take pledges for donations.

The concert comes a day after the death of sitar master Ravi Shankar, a performer at the 1971 “Concert for Bangladesh” considered the grandfather of music benefits. It was also in Madison Square Garden.

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