Like so many of his musical peers, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen has been thinking about the fortunes of road crew and other support staff who have been put out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They're family," Allen says during a Zoom call from his home in California. "Without them, the show doesn't happen."
So to make sure shows can go on when they're able to again, Allen and his wife, fellow musician Lauren Monroe, are hosting the Big Love Benefit Concert on Saturday, Jan. 23, raising money for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides assistance to music industry professionals in general, but especially at this particular time.
"It's really self-preservationism," acknowledges Allen, who gives Monroe credit for coming up with the idea. The couple also operates the non-profit Raven Drum Foundation and its Project Resiliency. "This is our way of making sure that the industry is still there when we actually get to come back and start playing in front of people again.
"We realize the value of our crews and all the incredible people in this industry, and the ripple effect of what COVID did is really quite devastating."
Once the idea was in place, Allen, 57, "reached out to people that I knew," landing performances by Styx's Tommy Shaw, Billy Idol, Wynonna Judd, Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge, Slash), the Allman Betts Band, Matt Sorum and others. Poison's Bret Michael will introduce the program, while Sammy Hagar and Chicago are among those contributing special messages to run during the streamcast.
There will also be auction items including an army jacket singed by Idol, a drum kit autographed by Allen and a virtual Mett & Greet with Florence & the Machine.
"it was an easy yes," says Shaw, whose band has toured with Def Leppard in the past. Styx also did a virtual fan Q&A with the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp during December to raise money for its crew members. "It's not an isolated thing in Styx. It's everywhere. It's great to see other organizations feel the same way we do, and the fans really seem to like to have the opportunity to know how to support the crew. I know our fans know our crew, especially the ones that come out every time we play in their town."
Allen adds that, "I think a lot of our crew members like to remain anonymous, but some of ours have been with us since the 80s, and I can't imagine them not being there. So it's important to do what we can to help them."
Allen says he and Monroe also envision the Big Love benefit, named after the 2020 EP by Monroe and her band, as a possible series of streaming shows
"That's what we're trying to do," he says. "We've got this first one pretty much done. It would be wonderful to do a second one so the money keeps coming. We really don't know when we'll be able to get back to (touring), so the need will be there for some time to come."
The Big Love Benefit Concert, benefiting the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Performers include Billy Idol, Styx's Tommy Shaw, Myles Kennedy, Wynonna Judd, the Allman Betts Band, Def Leppard's Rick Allen and Lauren Monroe, and others. Tickets via 2nu.gs/BigLove.
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