The Credibility Backlash
Whenever a rock band become huge there is inevitably a backlash in some quarters regarding their credibility.
U2 always had a 'good boy' image but as the years rolled on and the cash rolled in Bono's desire to save the world seemed increasingly to be a put up job.
I decided to watch Coldplay at Glastonbury this year. I won't review the show because hundreds of others have already done so... but I thought now was a good time to share an extraordinary moment.
In the autumn of 2004 I was charged by the United Nations to raise emergency funding to protect the refugees in Darfur who were in constant danger of rape, murder and torture at the hands of bandits. UNHCR, though they have the protection of the UN, are in fact a charity and rely wholly on fundraising. So I decided to hold an event at the Royal Albert Hall in London. EMI were great and said they would record and distribute a DVD which they did. Artists including Alison Moyett, Chrissie Hynde, Sade and Mick Hucknell stepped forward straight away. All was looking good.
Then on the Tuesday morning, 8 hours before the final deadline, The Albert Hall said they needed £60,000 that day or they could not hold the venue... aaarrrgh.
I had spent all my money on buying and working the Sony Whitfield Street Studios and did not know what to do. So I made two phone calls.
The first call was to Cerne Canning, old friend and manager of Franz Ferdinand who that week had won the £20,000 Mercury Music Prize. 'I'll get back to you in ten minutes' he said. During that ten minutes I made a second call to the manager of ColdPlay. 'I'll get back to you in ten minutes' she said.
As I put the phone down, Cerne called me and said 'the boys are giving you half their Mercury Prize Money. There's a bike on it's way to you with a cheque.'
As I fumbled for the right words another phone rang in the office. 'Coldplay's manager for you Robin. 'Hi Robin, the band are sending a cheque for £50,000 to you by bike right now. They have a fund which pledges 10% of everything they earn to good causes. Please don’t mention this in the publicity'.
So there was my 60 grand just like that. I am so proud of what musicians do for the good of the most oppressed people and most of it they do without making a TV documentary or shaking hands with the Pope or compereing big charity concerts.
Next time you feel a bit Cynical about coldplay or Franz Ferdinand or Sade or anyone else, bear in mind that behind the scenes these men and women and the folks who look after them are really quite something.