NEW YORK – A collection of more than 20 prominent musicians from John Fogerty to Bruce Springsteen (search) to Pearl Jam joined forces Wednesday calling for President Bush's (search) ouster, announcing an unprecedented series of fund-raising concerts across nine swing states.
"I feel this is one of the most critical elections in my lifetime," Springsteen told The Associated Press in the most overtly political statement of his career. "This wasn't one that a concerned citizen felt comfortable sitting out."
Springsteen was joined by a collection of performers that spanned generations and genres: country act the Dixie Chicks (search), hip-hoppers Jurassic 5, bluesman Keb' Mo' and classic rockers John Mellencamp and Jackson Browne. The artists, touring under the "Vote for Change" banner, will play 34 shows in 28 cities between Oct. 1-8.
Springsteen's concerns and commitment were shared by other performers, including Dave Matthews and his band.
"It's the first time Bruce and the E Street Band ever stood up and made a clear political statement," Matthews told The AP. "This is the first time we've ever stood as a band, unified, and said we want a change."
The shows, which launch Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania, will take an unusual approach: as many as six concerts on a single day in cities across the states expected to decide the November presidential race. Other stops on the tour are North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and the key state in 2000, Florida.
The money generated will go to America Coming Together (search), which promises on its Web site to "derail the right-wing Republican agenda by defeating George W. Bush." The anticipated millions of dollars will be spent in the swing states before the presidential election, said ACT president Ellen Malcolm.
The shows will be presented by MoveOn Pac, the electoral arm of the liberal interest group MoveOn.org.
There was no immediate word on prices for tickets, which go on sale Aug. 21 for all the shows. The concerts will pair artists, such as Springsteen and REM, the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor, or Mellencamp and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.
Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, who memorably told a London audience last year that she was ashamed to share her home state of Texas with Bush, echoed Springsteen's comment about the importance of the Nov. 2 election.
"A change is in order," Maines said in an AP interview. "There's never been a political climate like this, which is so the polar opposite of me as a person and what I believe in."
The idea was hatched by several of the acts' managers, and quickly expanded. "Once we started talking to each other, ideas started percolating and other artists started reaching out to us," said Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager.
Many of the acts had a history of social activism, from Browne's anti-nuclear concerts to Mellencamp's Farm Aid shows. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder was a Ralph Nader backer in 2000, but he feels Democratic nominee John Kerry is the choice this time around.
"There's a vote coming up, and a chance to have a regime change at home," Vedder told AP. "I'm feeling the same way, there's a need for change."