10 Rock Bands Who Give to Charity

01
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Philanthropic Performers

U2 in concert
Zachary Gillman/Creative Commons

November is a month of goodwill: Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and Veterans Day to express gratitude. But have you heard of National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 15? To commemorate the charitable holiday, we’re recognizing some of the most generous ’90s bands.

U2 

Some accuse Bono and the boys of grandstanding, messianic behavior, but there is no denying how giving the “Beautiful Day” band are. Using their Achtung Baby weeper “One” as an anthem, the magnanimous singer built a task force to combat poverty worldwide. Additionally, his Product (RED) campaign teamed with major brands such as Apple and Moleskine to raise funds for AIDS research. “It’s not about charity, it’s about justice,” says Bono in big lettering on the (RED) website. Consider justice served, with more than $300 million reportedly collected for the cause.

02
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The Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins Circa 1996
Catherine McGann/Getty Images

The Chicago rockers mellowed out in 1998 with Adore, and with that came a humbled Billy Corgan. His group (reduced to a trio following the 1996 firing of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin) donated all gross revenues of the 16-date U.S. tour to local charities. Many of the recipient nonprofits benefited disadvantaged youth, with SP bequeathing around $2 million, according to MTV. Corgan currently advocates for fair treatment of military veterans, performing at benefits and pairing with the Easter Seals to raise awareness of their plight.

03
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Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam in concert
Paul Hudson/Creative Commons

“Every Pearl Jam show is a benefit show,” their website announces. The Seattleites run the Vitalogy Foundation, named for their 1994 album. Each member champions three or more individual causes, ranging from public radio funding to creating shelter for war orphans. Another great moment in Pearl Jam history was in 1999 when they released their uber popular cover of Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss.” All proceeds from the single went to CARE, an entity that provided humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees. To date, “Last Kiss” is PJ’s highest-charting song, ultimately climbing to number 4 on the Billboard Top 40.  

04
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Dave Navarro

Dave Navarro
Courtesy the artist

As someone who survived his own teenage turmoil – coping with the slaying death of his mother by her ex-boyfriend – the Jane’s Addiction guitarist has become a regular on the charity circuit. He supports domestic violence prevention agency Safe Horizon and often performs at benefit concerts around the United States. Read our interview with Navarro about his involvement with Rhonda’s Kiss, a cancer relief nonprofit

05
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Bif Naked

Bif Naked
HRM

The “Moment of Weakness” singer has led a life of strength and hope. As a cancer survivor, she shares her fighting spirit as a motivational speaker for the newly diagnosed. “Nobody should be ashamed to ask for help,” the artist also known as Beth Torbert said in 2013. “That’s what drives me to be the one to talk to people in the waiting room!” Her efforts led to an honorary doctorate from the University of the Fraser Valley, and she continues to cheer on causes like animal rights and combatting hunger in Canada. 

06
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Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas
Atlantic

The animal kingdom has a friend in Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas. He formed Sidewalk Angels, a nonprofit that cares for neglected and homeless pets, with wife Marisol in 2003. His solo tours have raised funds for the project, which in turn has supported childhood wellness and other causes. Thomas is also a vocal champion of gay marriage, writing a Huffington Post blog in 2009 in solidarity with his homosexual loved ones

07
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Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow
Courtesy the artist

Volunteerism not only helps the beneficiaries— it often helps instill values in the benefactors. That’s what Sheryl Crow aims to show her children with her charitable efforts. She and her two sons regularly volunteer at food banks (she talks about the positive actions at length in this 2014 People interview). Moreover, Crow has literally sold the clothes off her back to assist Feeding America. The “Soak Up the Sun” singer frequently holds eBay auctions of her boots and other accessories and gives the money to those in need. 

08
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Tracy Bonham

Tracy Bonham
Jerry Graham Publicity

Like Whitney Houston, “Mother Mother” belter Tracy Bonham believes the children are the future. So she gives music lessons to kids and teens in New York City, and leads the Rockstrings summer camp in Oregon. The classically trained violinist and vocalist also writes children’s music under the name Topsy Bonsai’s Musiquarium, aside from her jazzy rock output as a solo artist. We talked with Bonham about her giving spirit in this 2013 interview.

09
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Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band
Moses Namkung/Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of concerts, thousands of charitable grants. Jam legends Dave Matthews Band leave a trail of love and kindness wherever they go. Their Bama Works charity, in conjunction with the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, has contributed to a gaggle of worthy causes around the world, raising a self-reported $40 million since 1999. DMB’s website has a comprehensive list of all the benefit concerts they’ve played over the years. Cheers to the “Crash Into Me” posse.

10
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Everclear

Everclear
MSO PR

Here’s where being “Everything to Everyone” is a great thing. Art Alexakis and his gang are especially in tune with arts education. We spoke with the generous performers in 2013 ahead of a benefit concert in Pasadena, Calif., in which the bleach-blond leader recalled his mother’s days as an actress. Her passion for the arts was a huge influence on his becoming a musician. Everclear strive to provide the same inspiration for young fans looking for a creative outlet.

 

Additional information and resources provided by looktothestars.org.