Building on the success of last month’s Freddie Mercury London tribute, which raised more than $35 million, music executives and performers recently launched LIFEbeat, the industry’s first major Stateside effort to raise money to fight AIDS. But LIFEbeat’s initial project — a series of benefit concerts, the first scheduled for June 8 in New York — has run into trouble. Although founder Bob Caviano says he has received many calls from executives, deejays, and others asking how they can help, major acts organizers had hoped would perform have declined, mostly due to scheduling conflicts. At present only the Pet Shop Boys will headline the New York show, which will also feature female rappers Salt-N-Pepa. ”Managers, agents, and labels are more concerned about selling records and making the right career moves,” says Caviano, who himself has AIDS.
Still, he remains optimistic about the event, estimating that it will raise $250,000 to $300,000 for a variety of AIDS charities. The show, now a ”dance party” instead of a concert, has been moved to a smaller venue and its highest ticket price dropped from $250 to $50. ”There are so many people dying of AIDS that we have to stop preaching and start helping,” says Cheryl James, a.k.a. Salt. LIFEbeat has been able to get commitments from Wilson Phillips, Cyndi Lauper, Slaughter, Nona Hendryx, and Yoko Ono for public-service announcements to air later this summer.