TV ‘Rock-A-Thon’ Brings Ray of Hope to Victims of Quake

From Associated Press

Bob Hope joined dozens of Bay Area rock musicians in an earthquake relief effort featuring concerts in three locations Sunday that raised more than $2 million.

Call-in donations raised $1 million as of 12:45 a.m. today, at the end of the 12-hour music telethon that was televised live and broadcast on radio stations across the state.

Rock entrepreneur Bill Graham, who co-produced the “rock-a-thon” concerts with local public television station KQED, agreed to match funds up to $1 million. The station said it would take phone pledges for several hours after the concert ended.

“It’s been a great day for all of us,” Graham told the crowd at the Cow Palace. “We pledged ourselves today to continue our concern.”


Hope decided at the last minute to join the lineup for the event. At first, the 86-year-old comedian joked from the television studio that it was difficult to leave his golf game for the event, but then added, “I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t want to help something like this.”

Later, Hope was greeted by a wildly cheering Cow Palace crowd, which sustained its greeting for more than a minute as the surprised Hope looked on from the stage.

An earthquake veteran himself, Hope referred to the 6.6-magnitude quake that struck the San Fernando Valley in 1971, joking that he “got up and ran around the house and then the house got up and ran around me.”

Dubbed “Earthquake Relief,” the concerts billed more than 45 acts, including vocalist Bobby McFerrin, who teamed with blues performer Taj Mahal for an extended jam, guitarists Carlos Santana and Neil Young, percussionist Pete Escovedo, and rock groups Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt and Crosby, Stills & Nash.


Fund-raising hosts interrupted the entertainment for brief periods to urge viewers and listeners to contribute. The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked part of Northern California on Oct. 17 killed 67 people and caused an estimated $7 billion in damage.

The shows marked the first time in 35 years that KQED devoted air time to fund-raising for a cause other than itself.

Shows were staged in Oakland, San Francisco and Watsonville, a small, largely Hispanic community south of Santa Cruz that was one of the hardest-hit areas.