LOS ANGELES — In what Pharrell Williams called “the biggest party on Earth,” he, Snoop Dogg, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, Akon, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, John Mayer, the Foo Fighters, AFI and Sheryl Crow are among more than 100 major acts who will take part in a series of international concerts organized by former vice president and environmental advocate Al Gore.
The Live Earth Concerts — part of the Save Our Selves – The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis (or S.O.S. for short) initiative launched by Gore, Pharrell, Cameron Diaz and others — are aimed at raising public awareness about global warming, Gore and co-organizer Kevin Wall announced Thursday (February 15) at the California Science Center.
“This event is linked to the beginning of a campaign,” said Gore, whose entourage rolled on to the University of Southern California campus in a convoy of black Priuses. “We have to get the message out to billions. We can solve it, but we won’t until enough people get the message.”
The shows, which organizers have said will be bigger than 1985’s Live Aid concerts, will take place on July 7 — 7/7/07 — on seven continents: London; Shanghai, China; Sydney, Australia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and cities to be determined in Japan, Antarctica (the first live concert broadcast from there, according to Gore) and the United States, where two major East Coast cities are apparently vying for the hosting role.
In an impressively elegant speech, Pharrell said he wanted to talk not about the dangers of global warming, but about culture. “Culture is everything that separates us as well as everything that brings us together,” he said. “Culture is music, culture is art. … The one thing culture hasn’t been is consciousness and awareness.”
Pharrell, who was the first artist on board and is helping to organize the event, will also perform, as well as Lenny Kravitz, Bon Jovi, Damien Rice, Corinne Bailey Rae, Snow Patrol, Keane, Korn, Bloc Party, Duran Duran, Melissa Etheridge, Enrique Iglesias, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Maná and Paolo Nutini.
Many more artists, as well as the stadiums hosting the concerts and which bands will perform where, will be announced in about 30 days. Several other cities are also “overwhelming” the organizers with requests to get involved, and Wall expects the events could expand to at least five other major cities (much like Live 8 held smaller concerts in countries like Canada).
“I put the call out about four weeks ago and I’ve never had this kind of response before,” Wall added. “I have bands that are moving already-scheduled tour dates around just to be a part.”
The Chili Peppers apparently confirmed their participation to Gore by whispering “we’re in” into his ear onstage at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, where he presented them with Rock Album of the Year (see “Timberlake Rocks; Blige Weeps; Chicks, Chilis Clean Up At Grammys” ).
Also at the Grammys, Gore met with the Black Eyed Peas, who asked if they could write a theme song for the Live Earth Concerts.
Meanwhile, along with music, the events will feature celebrity announcers as well as 60 short films commissioned by Gore and Wall from some of the world’s biggest directors. Gore’s own climate documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was frequently mentioned Thursday, is nominated for an Oscar (see ” ’Dreamgirls’ Leads Oscar Noms — Without Best Picture Or Beyonce” ).
With NBC and their channels, as well as MSN, on board, the concerts are expected to reach a television audience of more than 2 billion people in 120 countries. Satellite radio competitors Sirius and XM Radio are also teaming up to broadcast the concerts, which will provide about 24 straight hours of music.
Diaz introduced Gore and Wall (who also organized Live 8 — see “Jay-Z, U2, Madonna, Pink Floyd Deliver Live 8 Highlights” ) at Thursday’s press conference, which also featured an appearance by rock en español faves Maná.
“This is the start of something very big,” the actress said. “This is the only issue in history that affects every one of us. And that’s what we’re here for: to make this awareness global.”
The announcement came just weeks after Gore teamed with British billionaire Richard Branson to announce a $25 million prize for the first person to come up with a way of scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, according to a Reuters report. “Man created the problem and therefore man should solve the problem,” Branson told a news conference announcing the Virgin Earth Challenge.
The prize will run for five years initially, with ideas to be assessed by a panel of judges including Branson, Gore and several environmental/climate scientists. The winner is charged with finding a way to remove 1 billion metric tons of carbon gases a year from the atmosphere for 10 years — with $5 million of the prize being paid at the start and the remaining $20 million at the end.
[This story was originally published at 1:35 pm E.T. on 02.15.2007]