BURBANK, CA (Top40 Charts/ By Brian Bumbery/ Warner Bros. Records Publicity) - On Wednesday, May 23, Green Day
treated millions of viewers to a surprise performance of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero
" on the season finale of Fox's mega-hit TV show "American Idol." Drawing inspiration from Lennon's use of music to stimulate change, Green Day
performed the song to raise awareness for Amnesty International's efforts for Darfur, Sudan. The song is currently available for purchase on iTunes and is featured on "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur," a collection of iconic Lennon songs recorded by an array of best-selling artists to be made available for purchase both on CD and as digital downloads via online retailers beginning June 12.
"Instant Karma" aims to harness the power of Lennon's solo songbook to inspire a new generation of activists to stand up for human rights. The caustic "Working Class Hero" appears on Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" (1970), and is considered one of his most overtly political songs.
"We wanted to do 'Working Class Hero' because its themes of alienation, class, and social status really resonated with us," says Green Day singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong.
Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A., adds, "We know music's power to unite and inspire people. With hundreds of thousands dead, millions driven from their burned out villages and rape being used as a tactic in the Darfur conflict, the world needs a mass mobilization demanding action and justice. The 'Instant Karma' campaign combines John Lennon's passionate desire for us to imagine a more peaceful world with Amnesty International's expertise in achieving justice. 'Instant Karma' allows ordinary people to lend their hand in saving lives - a notion we think would make John proud."
Green Day's efforts for Amnesty International also include a philanthropic partnership with Hard Rock International through which the band will unveil the latest limited edition Signature Series T-shirt. Proudly designed by the band members, the Green Day Signature Series T-shirt will benefit Amnesty International and beginning June 12 will be sold exclusively at Hard Rock locations around the world.
The two-CD set of "Instant Karma," which will be released by Warner Bros. Records, boasts a stellar line-up of 23 world-class artists from a variety of genres putting their own unique spin on classic songs from Lennon's solo songbook. The artists - who come from the worlds of rock, pop and country - include longtime activists U2 ("Instant Karma"), R.E.M. ("No 9 Dream") and Jackson Browne ("Oh, My Love"); female pop powerhouses Christina Aguilera ("Mother"), Avril Lavigne ("Imagine"), and Corinne Bailey Rae ("I'm Losing You"); country stars Big & Rich ("Nobody Told Me"); alternative favorites Snow Patrol ("Isolation"), The Flaming Lips ("(Just Like) Starting Over"), Postal Service ("Grow Old With Me") and Regina Spektor ("Real Love"); best-selling rockers Aerosmith ("Give Peace a Chance"), Lenny Kravitz ("Cold Turkey") and Los Lonely Boys ("Whatever Gets You Thru The Night"); and pensive singer-songwriters Jakob Dylan with Dhani Harrison ("Gimme Some Truth") and Ben Harper ("Beautiful Boy").
The rights to Lennon's songs were generously donated by Yoko Ono, who has contributed all music publishing royalties. Amnesty International chose to harness the power of Lennon's music to inspire a new generation of activists to stand up for human rights. Proceeds from CD and digital sales will support Amnesty International and its campaign to focus attention and mobilize activism around the urgent catastrophe in Darfur and other human rights crises.
"It's wonderful that, through this campaign, music that is so familiar to many people of my era will now be embraced by a whole new generation," Ono says. "John's music set out to inspire change, and in standing up for human rights, we really can make the world a better place."
"John Lennon was not just a famous Beatle, he was the social conscience of his generation," says Jeff Ayeroff, one of the album's executive producers. "By reinterpreting his music and reintroducing it to a new generation, we shine a light on the darkness that is Darfur. Yoko Ono's gift of John's music to Amnesty International, whose work points out the pain and injustice in the world, is a true beacon of light. Give peace a chance is all we are saying."
Winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize, Amnesty International includes people from all walks of life taking action and is composed of more than 2.2 million human rights activists worldwide. Its members protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Amnesty International investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and helps transform societies to create a safer, more just world.
Amnesty International has a long history of activism involving musicians including 1988's worldwide Human Rights Now! Tour and 1998's Paris concert, which honored the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respectively. Collectively, the concerts featured performances by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N'Dour, Alanis Morissette, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Radiohead.
For more information about "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur" or Amnesty International, please visit www.InstantKarma.org in the United States or www.amnesty.org/noise outside the United States.