April 13 – Sting Of The Jungle

Call him pompous or egotistical if you will, but one thing that can’t be said of Sting is that he won’t show up for a good cause. One of the big voices in the Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and on the Wembley stage for 1985’s Live Aid to a fundraising concert for out-of-work autoworkers in Canada more recently, if there’s a wrong to be righted, Sting will probably sing out for it. And Big Apple music fans were able to benefit from that 20 years ago today…and 22 years ago too! That was when the 2000 and 2002 Rock for the Rainforest Concerts were held at Carnegie Hall.

Sting’s always been something of an environmentalist and long ago he realized one of the big problems for the planet was the deforestation of tropical rain forests, particularly the Amazon (but also to lesser extents ones in Africa and south Asia.) It was hastening extinction of numerous species, adding to climate change problems and forcing a number of indigenous people from their traditional lands. So he and his wife, Trudie Styler started a non-profit organization called the Rainforest Foundation in 1987, aiming to raise money to preserve forest lands and fight plans for development for mining, urbanization, dams and the such in sensitive areas. Given his profession and history, it was natural that he’d try to highlight it and raise money through a concert. The first one was in 1991 and saw him joined by Elton John and some Brazilian classical and bossa nova artists like Gilberto Gil and Antonio Jobim. It raised about $250 000, and won good reviews, so he ran one again in ’92, with Elton returning and being joined by James Taylor and Don Henley. It became an annual spring tradition in New York throughout the decade, then switched to every second year after 2000. Several times they even managed to get the Empire State Building lit up in green lights to mark the event. Elton and James Taylor have been regulars, and the list of other performers through the years is quite impressive – Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Sheryl Crow plus comics Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Murray just for starters. The 2000 one was noteworthy for the only appearance by Stevie Wonder, while 2002’s saw a lineup that included Nina Simone and Ravi Shankar in addition to Sting and Elton as always.  2019 appeared to be the last one, with it changing venues to the Beacon Theatre in the city. Rolling Stone reported it featured Sting (of course) as well as an “extremely rare Eurythmics reunion” and “Bruce Springsteen (who) came onto the stage and called on John Mellencamp to help him sing ‘Glory Days’”. Also in attendance, Bob Geldof who taped the show with his smart phone “a look of absolute joy on his face.”

Presumably any plans for one in 2020 and ’21 were scuttled by the pandemic and right now it doesn’t seem like one is on tap for this year, although one might expect an announcement soon. After all, Sting spoke out again recently saying “legend has it that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While obviously bristling at the dubious factoid that such a stupid man could be a musician, none of us, including me, can be complacent about the tragic dimensions of the disaster taking place in the Amazon…(fires for land clearing) are up 80% from last year…this is criminal negligence on a global scale.” Sounds like a guy who’s readying to take the stage with some angry words and ditties soon to us!

To date, the foundation has saved 28 million acres of rainforest in 20 countries and led battles to stop several large developments. The concerts have raised at least $20 million and are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest environmental fundraising event”.

16 thoughts on “April 13 – Sting Of The Jungle

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    Him and Bono make a career out of that…but yea they do have talent…I will never say they don’t. I am glad they do pitch in on things like this…they draw the crowds.
    I’m not sure if Bono is as much an environmentalist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I give ’em credit for it. I think bono tends to keep himself more limited to human rights causes and similar humanitarian efforts, whereas Sting (and the Eurythmics too going back years) were always fairly environmentally-minded, which I applaud.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. One would have to be a total fool to not understand destroying that much of the Amazon forest has to have bad side-effects for the planet, especially since we know now that the soil isn’t great for having it grow back quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At least they do something, unlike Hollywood’s narcistic freaks. The sad truth about the rain forest in Brazil and the others also is, the people there are poor, and if they can’t eat it or make a buck from it they don’t care squat about the environment or destruction of our animal species. So Stings fight is a hard one and he should be given credit for what he has accomplished. Can you imagine The Kardashian’s doing anything like that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, except might put a tiny disclaimer about the reason. I know the indigent people there cut some to try and farm and so on, which is a problem, but it seems like governmental-sponsored corporate clear-cutting for greed – lumber, urbanization where there were no cities, etc – are a bigger reason there. but yes, I applaud Sting for trying, and no… I would be surprised to see the Family “K” doing something like that though lord knows if they did, with their clout, things might get done. I have a loosely-defined theory that everything started going downhill when their family became superstars and household names for reasons I can’t understand.

      Liked by 2 people

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