The Concert for NYC: Beth A. Keiser/AP/Wide World
Gary Susman
October 24, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

BENEFITS OF THE CLOUT A weekend of all-star benefits for terror relief kicked off in New York Saturday with a rock rally at Madison Square Garden, followed by similar shows Sunday at Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium and Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center. The New York show served largely as a tribute to the city’s firefighters, cops, and other emergency workers, who filled the front rows and were frequently brought up on stage as movie stars and classic-rock musicians paid them homage.

The six-hour show was headlined by Paul McCartney and featured such acts as David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy, the Who, and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, as well as some younger acts (Destiny’s Child, Jay-Z, and Five for Fighting). A host of Hollywood folk appeared (Billy Crystal, Susan Sarandon, Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Michael J. Fox, and Jim Carrey), while several current and former ”Saturday Night Live” stars (including David Spade, Chris Kattan, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell, doing his President Bush imitation) gave comic relief.

Paying tribute in short-film form were New Yorkers Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Edward Burns, Jerry Seinfeld, and Kevin Smith (he’s from New Jersey, close enough). McCartney, who’d handed out tickets to firemen himself at New York fire stations, closed the show with a new benefit single, ”From a Lover to a Friend,” an anthem he wrote September 12 called ”Freedom,” and an all-star singalong of ”Let It Be.”

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