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Singers Bon Jovi (left) and Bruce Springsteen perform during the 12-12-12 benefit concert for victims of Superstorm Sandy at Madison Square Garden in New York, on Wednesday. Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Rock music royalty - including the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters - joined a stellar lineup on Wednesday to raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The 12-12-12 concert at Madison Square Garden brought a who's who of rockers under one roof for the event, which was broadcast live by 37 US television networks and a multitude of Internet livestream sites, as well as radio. Organizers expected 2 billion people to tune in worldwide.
The musicians also included The Who, Jon Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin and rapper Kanye West, who lit up the blogosphere by performing in a black leather skirt.
While music stars strutted their stuff, movie and TV performers - including Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, and political humorist Jon Stewart - fronted a telethon drive or appeared in the arena to appeal for funds in the event, organized by the Robin Hood Foundation.
The phone bank was literally wall-to-wall, with celebrities, among them Chelsea Clinton, the increasingly high-profile only child of former US president Bill Clinton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Megastars with New York and New Jersey roots said the Oct 29 hurricane-strength storm, which killed about 120 people in the United States, had humbled them.
"I've never seen anything remotely close to what Hurricane Sandy was," Bon Jovi said before being joined on stage by fellow New Jersey star Springsteen. "This storm lasted a day. The effects of it are going to last a lifetime."
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin performed a duet with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. fame, and McCartney sang in the show's finale alongside a reunion of surviving members of '90s grunge-rock band Nirvana.
Between the high-powered rock anthems, comedian Adam Sandler played a more unusual song with a cheekily rewritten version of Leonard Cohen's ballad Hallelujah.
"Hallelujah, Sandy screw ya, we'll always rule ya, 'cuz we're New Yorkers," ran the chorus to the feisty homage to the Big Apple and neighboring New Jersey that had some in the crowd in tears of laughter.
But even the funnymen showed their serious side at the event.
Stewart, of The Daily Show, recalled his boyhood on the Jersey shore and praised the area's "working-class" heroes. He then called on the crowd of 13,000 to give a standing ovation to the police officers of Seaside Heights, a beach community that was torn apart in the storm.
Demand for seats quickly turned tickets into gold dust. The StubHub site listed one ticket at $10,400, and before the first note played, tickets and other sales had raised $32 million for the fund-raising drive.
At the end of the night, Robin Hood Director David Saltzman said "tens of thousands" of people had made donations, adding that the money would be "distributed in a matter of days, weeks, months - not years".
Superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey on Oct 29 before rolling up through New York City, bringing hurricane-force winds to the densely populated region and leaving massive flooding and ruined infrastructure in its wake.
Even now, tens of thousands of people remain without electricity, hot water or heating in the New York City area.
Many people in the hardest-hit beach communities have lost their entire homes, just as the winter cold sets in.
The White House has asked Congress to send $60.4 billion to aid rebuilding efforts, but the money has yet to be approved. The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have estimated damage as high as $82 billion.
The storm killed 120 people in the US after carving a deadly path through the Caribbean.
(China Daily 12/14/2012 page10)