Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens, Gary Brooker Play Benefit Concert Just Before 2020 Lockdown

Share This:

Eric Clapton at the Music For the Marsden benefit concert, March 3, 2020

Eric Clapton led a star-studded concert to benefit the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity held at London’s O2 Arena on March 3, 2020. Participating performers also included Van Morrison, Tom Jones, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum (in what appears to be his final performance), Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, John Illsley from Dire Straits, Paul Jones, Mike Rutherford, Paul Carrack, Bonnie Tyler, Paul Young, Zucchero, and Rick Wakeman. Little did the performers or attendees know that U.K. venues would close within two weeks, due to the escalating pandemic.

Funds raised from the benefit concert went towards building the Royal Marsden a new cancer treatment and research facility, the Oak Cancer Centre.

The various stars each performed several songs. Clapton performed three that have been part of his sets for years, “Key to the Highway,” “Stormy Monday” and “Cross Road Blues.”

After joining Hucknall for a number, Jones thanked his fellow performers and the audience for “a wonderful night for a wonderful cause.” He sang two of his biggest, “Delilah” and “Green, Green Grass of Home,” plus a cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Strange Things.”

Wakeman has recorded covers of many classic rock favorites in recent years. At the Music For the Marsden concert, he played his unique spin on “Eleanor Rigby.”

As he finished, he said to the audience, “This next artist is an amazing man whose wonderful music has been the soundtrack for many of our lives.” In introducing Cat Stevens, Wakeman noted that he “had the great privilege of recording it with him 50 years ago.”

Watch Stevens perform “Morning Has Broken” (with Wakeman) and his vastly re-worked “Wild World”

Later in 2020, he released a re-recorded version of his Tea For the Tillerman album for its 50th anniversary.

When tickets to the benefit went on sale in December, the concert sold out immediately. Many of the performers had announced lots of 2020 concerts. One by one, they were all postponed or canceled outright.

This was the third major benefit concert featuring classic rock legends to be held in London in recent weeks. On Feb. 17, Ginger Baker was given a proper sendoff at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith by a legion of stars that included Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Roger Waters. The concert’s proceeds went to welfare charity Leonard Cheshire that was close to Baker’s family.

Then on Feb. 25, at the London Palladium, a concert celebrating the music of Peter Green and early Fleetwood Mac took place. That show was organized by Mick Fleetwood and featured performances by David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Christine McVie, and Steven Tyler, among many others.

At the Music For the Marsden concert, Clapton joined Morrison on the latter’s set,

Brooker, who put the Marsden concert together, served as its musical director, and played Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.” The concert is believed to be his final performance; he died in February 2022.

Mason, who has been touring in recent years with his band, Saucerful of Secrets, playing the early music of Pink Floyd, instead chose to play “Comfortably Numb,” from the band’s 1979 album, The Wall.

Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler performed two of her biggest hits, “Holding Out For a Hero” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Carrack, a longtime member of Clapton’s touring band, and the singer of songs for several bands, performed his hit with Ace, “How Long.” He then invited his one-time Mike + the Mechanics’ bandmate, Rutherford, to join him on stage, where they covered Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance.”

One day after this performance, Rutherford announced a Genesis reunion tour for later that year. It was postponed twice. A U.S. edition took place in late 2021; the U.K. tour was rescheduled to 2022.

For Clapton, the headlining appearance provided further evidence that the singer-guitarist-songwriter was reconsidering his decision to scale back his live performances. He announced a concert tour of Europe for 2020, was postponed twice, but finally took place.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

1 Comment so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Galleonmaster
    #1 Galleonmaster 5 March, 2020, 11:25

    Cat Stevens was there? So everyone has finally forgiven Yusef Islam for calling for Solomon Rushdy’s assassination? How quickly they forgot!

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.