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Music For Montserrat

All of the artists had recorded at Martin's Air studios in Montserrat.

"Everyone I asked said yes. Even the guys who couldn't do it said they would have liked to. Mick Jagger, for example, said 'George, I would love to, but we are on tour. We just cannot do it,"' Martin said before the concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.

The stars, who recorded some of their greatest hits at the studio that is now covered in volcanic ash, all performed free of charge.

 

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"I am delighted we look set to raise so much money for the long-suffering people of Montserrat," Martin told reporters.

It was billed as the biggest benefit concert of the decade with a lineup that also boasted Sting and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits.

Singer Phil Collins said: "I spent over a couple of months there with Eric Clapton in the mid-'80s, and I know it is close to his heart as well as mine."

Martin said he would be personally visiting the Caribbean island to ensure the money is spent effectively in the northern side that was spared the ravages of the Soufriere Hills volcanic eruption.

The southern half of the once-idyllic island has been left uninhabitable by volcanic ash. Its population has more than halved to just over 4,000 after the volcano rumbled back into life after 400 years lying dormant.

Forty countries, from Japan to the United States, have bought the broadcast rights for the concert.

Sky Television in Britain is donating all the proceeds to Montserrat from its first-ever pay-per-view broadcast.

The 4,500 tickets to the concert were sold out in just 90 minutes.

The concert was staged as the British government pledged more aid for Montserrat and stressed its commitment to the island's future viability.

Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in principle that Britain should build a new airstrip for the island and provide a "soft" loan to enable its government to avert a crisis for people buying their own homes.

The island is at present so isolated that the only way in is either by helicopter or ferry.

 

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