When rock singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden died last May, Justin Pacy was devastated and felt compelled to do something.
Pacy, a veteran drummer based in Epping, New Hampshire, decided he wanted to gather other local musicians to put on a concert of Cornell’s music and raise money for mental illness programs. Cornell, who had suffered from depression and substance abuse, hung himself at the age of 52.
Pacy put out the word on social media and soon had some 120 musicians willing to help. They held the concert in September in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and raised some $17,000. On Saturday, Pacy and a similarly large cast of musicians will put on another concert for mental health awareness at Aura in Portland, featuring the music of several rockers who struggled with depression or addiction and died too young: Cornell, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
“Chris Cornell was my favorite musician of all time, and when he took his own life, it just made me think of what I could do,” said Pacy, 40. “The show we had worked out really well, so now we’re trying to do something even a little bigger.”
Here’s Chris Cornell covering Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U:”
Pacy said that after the New Hampshire show last fall he was contacted by national concert promotion company Live Nation about doing something similar at the newly-renovated Aura, which holds about 1,000 people.
Pacy said he has some 110 musicians lined up, arranged in more than 20 different bands. The show is being presented by Aura and Live Nation.
Some of the musicians and bands scheduled to play include Sygnal to Noise, Fifth Freedom, Loki, Uncle Jack, Prospect Hill and Killer at Large. Pacy expects the show to last about four and a half hours. Money raised will go to the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Pacy said he hopes the show will draw attention to mental illness by reminding people of the many talented musicians who have struggled with it and died young, including some who took their own lives.
“It’s an important issue that a lot of people have a personal connection to,” said Pacy.
Concert by local musicians covering the songs of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Layne Staley, Scott Weiland and Kurt Cobain, in a concert to benefit mental health awareness
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Aura, 121 Center St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $15, ages 18 and over