The Rolling Stones will perform during a star-studded special event also featuring Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, set to broadcast globally Saturday in support of health care workers combatting coronavirus.
The event put on by the international advocacy organization Global Citizen in collaboration with the World Health Organization and superstar Lady Gaga intends to “provide a moment of global unity in the fight to end COVID-19,” said its CEO Hugh Evans.
A-listers including Celine Dion, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder are all set to participate.
A six-hour streamed event will precede the prime time televised broadcast, with a laundry list of celebrities set to appear including pop star Christine and the Queens, actors Don Cheadle and Samuel L Jackson, and renowned soccer player Megan Rapinoe.
A Global Citizen publicist confirmed to AFP that all four Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood — would perform during the event.
“We are honored to be invited to be part of the One World: Together at Home broadcast — from our homes in isolation,” the group said in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic that’s killed more than 145,600 people worldwide and crippled the global economy has dealt a serious blow to the entertainment industry, halting concerts and festivals including The Stones tour.
The band was set to play 15 shows across North America starting May 8, but all have been postponed due to the pandemic.
‘In this together’
Chris Martin of Coldplay kicked off Global Citizen’s “Together, At Home” series last month, playing an Instagram live show.
In recent weeks Lady Gaga teamed up with the organization to help campaign for funds to fight COVID-19, and collaborated to curate the special, which will be hosted by American late-night television personalities Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel.
“I want to highlight this global, kind community that’s coming together right now,” Gaga told Fallon. “It’s this valiant effort that we’re all witnessing, this triumph that is the medical community.”
“This is a global pandemic, but take a second to marvel at the bravery.”
More than 100 artists are scheduled to participate in Saturday’s event, said Evans, who added that many of the performers — including the Stones — had heard of the effort and contacted Global Citizen wanting to take part.
Evans said he “honestly couldn’t believe it” when the British rockers reached out.
“Music provides this moment for us to pause to reflect to unite as one humanity,” he said, to “come back together and say you know what, we truly — it’s not just hyperbole — we truly are all in this together.”
It’s not the first time celebrities have gathered to highlight a crisis: 1985’s Live Aid benefit concert held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia assembled some of the world’s top musicians, including Queen, to play in support of famine relief in Ethiopia.
Global Citizen intends Saturday’s event as a “rallying cry” to support health workers and action for charities on a local level.
It is also urging philanthropists, companies and governments to support the WHO in its coronavirus response efforts, saying its already raised $35 million for local organizations and the international health body’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“This is really an important age that we live in, where people are grappling with — do they become more isolationist or do they become global citizens?” CEO Evans told AFP.
“I think if COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that a disease anywhere can mean a disease everywhere.”
The global concert in support of the WHO would appear particularly symbolic considering US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he is halting US funding of the UN body, accusing it of mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis.
Without directly referencing the US leader, Evans said now is the time to support the WHO, “not to walk away.”
“Multilateralism is the only way to fight pandemics,” he said. “You can’t fight a global pandemic one nation at a time.”