Rockers Queen to headline Mandela Aids concert

Veteran rockers Queen, along with Razorlight and Simple Minds, will top the bill at an Aids benefit concert in London next month to mark Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, organisers announced on Tuesday.

Precisely 46 664 tickets will go on sale for the three-hour gig in Hyde Park on June 27, which is in support of the former South African president’s 46664 campaign against HIV/Aids.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mandela, now retired from public life, is to make a rare appearance.

Other artists on the bill include Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, the Sugababes, Shirley Bassey, Andrea and Sharon Corr, Eddy Grant, Jamelia, Zucchero, South African artists and the Sudanese “war child” rapper Emmanuel Jal.

Queen are now known as Queen plus Paul Rodgers, with their new frontman who has replaced the late Freddie Mercury.

“The concert will feature numerous unexpected appearances, with several major artists keeping silent about their involvement in order to take both Mr Mandela and the audience by surprise,” organisers said.

Royalty, former United States president Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, US actors Robert De Niro, Will Smith and Forest Whitaker, US television host Oprah Winfrey and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton are to attend events spread over three days leading up to the concert.

The campaign, named after Mandela’s prison number during his 27-year incarceration, aims to raise awareness of the HIV/Aids pandemic that is rife in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa is one of the countries worst-hit by HIV, with 5,41-million people living with the illness.

Mandela announced the concert in August last year at the unveiling of his statue in London.

“You all know that I am supposed to be retired,” Mandela said at the time.

“But my friends and the charitable organisations that bear my name want to use my 90th birthday year to raise funds to continue our work and so of course I want to help them.

“So, we have a bargain: I am going to London and they will host a concert in Hyde Park, which will raise awareness of our continuing work and much-needed funds.”

A concert marking Mandela’s 70th birthday and calling for his release was held at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1988.

The four 46664 concerts already held so far were in November 2003 in Cape Town; March 2005 in George, South Africa; April and May 2005 in Madrid and June 2005 in Tromso, Norway.

Mandela lost a son to Aids in January 2005.—Sapa-AFP


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