So I know that everyone thinks that the heavy metal lifestyle revolves around be sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll -- but really, that mentality is pretty cliché. Overstated. Presumptuous.
Then again, I've clearly never been a rock star; but the majority of the ones I interview are more obsessed with their musical proficiency, the state of the industry today, and how heavy metal can make the world a better place. Nowadays, it's commonplace to hear about huge charitable music festivals, nonprofits started by people like Bono and Madonna, and musicians supporting a cause close to their heart.
And by the way; it might surprise your grandmother (mine doesn't believe me), but metal-heads are not exempt from charitable giving. It's not as bad as it used to be, but I'm so sick and tired of heavy metal being stereotyped as a collection of people who have no regard for society or the problems in it. Hell -- half the music is actually about that. Listen up, people!
So I decided to list seven charities founded and established by a heavy metal band or musician that stand for a range of causes, from Alice Cooper's redemption of failing music programs at children's schools, to cancer research in the name of Dio, to Slash's affinity for animal conservation.
Whatever the case, here's to heavy metal's big-ass heart making the world a little bit better of a place.
The loss of Ronnie James Dio, who died in 2010 from stomach cancer, was a huge hit to the world of heavy metal. This fund was co-founded by his widow Wendy Dio (one of my personal favorite women in heavy metal), and in addition to funding research, the organization's mission is also to educate the masses about prevention, early detection and treatment of the different forms of cancer. Stand up and shoouuuttt!! Check out how to contribute to the fund here.
The history of how this foundation came about is just as kick-ass as the three charities it supports. Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood and a group of people completed cycling trips around the world in a group called the Truants to raise money for children's charities. Smallwood convinced Metal Hammer Editor-In-Chief Alexander Milas to join in on the Morocco ride, and over recovery beers the two decided that The Heavy Metal Truants would be the perfect offshoot to the Truants. The three children's charities are Teenage Cancer Trust, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, and Childline/NSPCC. If you're into cycling, supporting those in need, and appreciate some heavy metal headbanging, you can even join in on one of the trips.
Slash (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver) has always had an affinity for animals; in fact, he serves on the board at the Los Angeles Zoo. He now pays homage to the late Steve Irwin, and advocacy for Australian wildlife, via the foundation he set up in 2012 with the eccentric outdoorsman's dad, Bob Irwin. The goal of the foundation is to get people stoked on supporting advocacy for wildlife in Australia, as well as educate on why conservation is so important, so people will take action politically. Check out how you can help support Slash's love for Aussie wildlife here.
If you don't know how integrated the Godfather of Shock Rock is in philanthropy, then I'm guessing you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years. And not a Solid Rock either, like the one that Cooper puts forth. This foundation has been thriving and growing in the Phoenix area, attracting kids from all over who want to nourish their creative skills in free after school programs, whether it's music, dance, arts or sports; there are even aspects of the industry like sound and lighting. Along with his friend Chuck Savale, Cooper created the foundation to help keep kids on the right track and to make up for the loss or neglect of art programs in schools. Check out how to contribute to Solid Rock here.
From Syd Barret's mirrored Esquire to prolific shredder John 5's J5 Signature Telecaster which he helped co-design, Fender has always had a solid spot in heavy metal. Think about it: Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Jim Root -- the list goes on. Sigh. Those beautiful Telecasters. So, it's completely natural that Fender believes that it's of the upmost importance to keep music education alive and well in school's and communities. The foundation was founded in 2005, and has reached almost 200,000 people through instrument and education program grants. For Fender, it's all about making the gift of music available to everyone.
The Osbournes are quite the anomaly, whether it's complete bewilderment about how Ozzy is still rocking out on stage to the family's commercial success, as, well, a family. When Sharon Osbourne defeated colon cancer, the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program was born. It focuses on educating about the disease, funding research, assisting those who have been diagnosed with at-home childcare, and even supplying support groups. I can't imagine that one would find a stronger network for defeating cancer than in the determination of an Osbourne. Check out how to contribute to the organization here.
This foundation honors the life of guitar hero Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, who was shot on stage in 2004. Focused on charities that Dimebag supported in his life, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Little Kids Rock, Ride for Dime was originally formed in Texas by the guitarists' friends and family. Since then, it's grown to six nationwide chapters, with each having a yearly motorcycle ride to raise money. Just last month, the Philadelphia chapter of Ride for Dime held a pancake breakfast and raised enough money to help keep a local senior center from closing down due to lack of funding. The Dime Scholarship is all about supporting music education or children--and we know that Dime inspired so many youth to pick up a guitar and put their heart and soul out there for all to see. Check out how you can contribute to the organization here.
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