'12-12-12' Producer John Sykes on Show's Boomer-riffic Lineup, Raising $36 Mil, McCartney Calling Grohl (Video)
'12-12-12' Producer John Sykes on Show's Boomer-riffic Lineup, Raising $36 Mil, McCartney Calling Grohl (Video)

Sure, last night's " 12-12-12" concert featured one of the most impressive lineups in years, if not ever, between Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Bon Jovi, The Who, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Billy Joel, Chris Martin, Paul McCartney and the surviving members of Nirvana, among others. But the list was almost even longer at one point, before the producers reined things to focus on what Mick Jagger called "the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled at Madison Square Garden."

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"We did invite some other artists, but the bill filled up so quickly," Clear Channel Entertainment president and concert producer John Sykes told Billboard.biz backstage. "What we wanted to do was put legends on the stage because it was about one thing: raising money. We knew the most wealthy donors in New York are baby boomers who grew up with these legendary artists, and we knew that brings the most possible money in the venue. That's why we got to $35 - 36 million before we opened the doors."

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Speaking to Billboard just minutes after Kanye West had taken the stage, Sykes also spoke of how the artists themselves helped put together many of the night's biggest collaborations. McCartney's performance with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, for example, was "all Paul," Sykes said. "It was Paul's idea to call Dave, Paul's idea to do a very special ending we're about to see. It was Roger Waters' idea to get Eddie Vedder. It was Bruce's idea to call Bon Jovi and have him sing with him. Chris Martin reached out to Michael Stipe. That's what this evening's all about - you bring in great artists and they take it from there. Al of a sudden they're coming with creative partnerships."

This was the first benefit event of its kind held at the Garden since 2001's Concert for New York City, which Sykes also co-produced alongside his "12-12-12" collaborators, Jim Dolan and Harvey Weinstein. Though some major technological advances have taken place since that show, some core similarities remained.

"What hasn't changed is that all the artists came to our service immediately," he said. "Besides the police officers and the fire fighters and the heroes that helped with these folks when disaster strikes, the musicians are the true first responders when it comes to financial support -- they're the ones who make millions of dollars a night and give their money to charity. I think it's really because they look at these victims, and 'these are our fans.' These are the ones who came to our shows and bought our CDs and downloaded our songs, and we know how to help. It is the music community that gives back so much, so that's something in common.

"What's different is the technology," he continued. "There was no Facebook, there was no Twitter. We can deliver so much on technology now through every streaming platform. We can have fans communicate through Facebook and Twitter and build awareness."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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