The Human Rights Concerts 1986-1998

Bruce Springsteen, U2, Sting, The Police, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead and 30 other top musicians headline major DVD & CD release for Amnesty International

Eagle Rock Entertainment is proud to announce that on Monday 28th October 2013 it will be issuing ¡RELEASED! a major six-disc DVD box-set and four companion CD sets of the historic “Human Rights Concerts” presented by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization Amnesty International in the years 1986-1998. Net proceeds from sales of the DVD set and CDs benefit Amnesty.

The release coincides with the 25th anniversary this autumn of the most high-profile of all the concerts in the series – the “Human Rights Now!” world tour. The six-week, five-continent, twenty-concert tour of the world in 1988 was headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour and was seen by over one million people in-person. Its mission was to raise awareness of the cause and it succeeded in tripling the movement’s worldwide membership. These new DVD and CD releases also arrive just six weeks before worldwide commemorations on 10th December 2013 of the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ? the Magna Carta of the human race that was instigated after World War II by Eleanor Roosevelt and that has been an inspiration for Amnesty’s 52 years of worldwide campaigning for human rights.

The “Human Rights Concerts” series comprises four films: The first film presents over five hours drawn from the all-day final concert of “A Conspiracy Of Hope” – Amnesty’s 25th anniversary concert tour of the USA in June 1986. The second film is of the above-referenced historic “Human Rights Now!” world tour undertaken in September and October 1988. The third film is “An Embrace Of Hope” – the October 1990 concert in Chile celebrating that nation’s liberation after 17 years of dictatorship. The fourth and final film is “The Struggle Continues?” ? the concert staged in Paris in 1998 on the exact 50th anniversary of the signing in that city of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The DVD set and CDs ? all digitally-restored from the original master tapes – feature thirty-six of the world’s leading musicians performing some of their biggest hits live in concert for the benefit of Amnesty. The DVD set contains 120 songs extending over 12 hours of disc time. The set also contains 32 additional segments featuring contextual content and additional music performances together comprising almost 5 hours of supplementary features. The full running time of the box-set is just 12 minutes short of 17 hours.

Three of the four concert films have never been issued before in any video or audio format. In the mode of that era’s “Live Aid” concert they were seen just once on TV ? and were not subsequently made available for home enjoyment. The fourth film ? from 1998 – had a limited VHS & DVD release 14 years ago and has been long unavailable. (Some individual songs from the concerts were included on a single-DVD highlights sampler released earlier this year). Of the 16 hours & 48 minutes of content on the DVD box-set, 12 hours 40 minutes has never previously been available on DVD or any home video format.

The DVD box-set consists of six discs plus a 48-page booklet with rare archival photographs and extensive liner notes including a 10,000 word essay on the history of the concerts by writer Gregory Weinkauf.

There are also four CD sets ? one for each of the four concerts. The 1986, 1988 and 1998 concerts are presented on two-disc CD sets. The 1990 concert is a single disc presentation.

The list of musicians who contributed their services to the concerts is extraordinary and includes some of the world’s foremost artists – drawn from several nations and representing a wide range of musical styles. The primary factor uniting them was their desire to donate their time and talents to place a spotlight on Amnesty’s crucial work campaigning for people whose human rights are abused.

The “Human Rights Concerts” series started in 1986 ? evolving out of Amnesty’s desire to capitalize and build on the invaluable support it was receiving from the rock music community. This had first manifested itself in Amnesty’s “Secret Policeman’s Ball” series of benefit shows, albums and movies beginning in 1976, that had presented musical performances by Pete Townshend, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Tom Robinson, Donovan, Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. Those entertainment events were a crucial turning point in Amnesty’s strategy of inspiring young people to become active participants in the human rights movement.

A key organizational figure in the first three events of the “Human Rights Concerts” series was Jack Healey, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA between 1981-1993. The 1986 US tour and 1988 world tour were co-produced with seasoned rock promoter Bill Graham. The 1998 Paris concert was organized by Amnesty planning officer Blair Gibb and Peter Gabriel.

The “Human Rights Concerts” have been restored and produced for release by longtime (37 years) Amnesty activist and producer, Martin Lewis – who was co-creator (with John Cleese) of Amnesty’s “Secret Policeman’s Ball” series and co-producer of all the ‘Ball’ shows, movies, TV specials and albums between 1976-1985. It was Lewis who first instigated Amnesty’s outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend and the other above-referenced musicians. Lewis and Healey together conceived Amnesty’s 1988 world tour.

Executive Producers for Amnesty on the release are Claire Schultz and Stacey Bain.

Among the hallmarks of the concerts were the unique musical collaborations that arose between the artists. The concerts include duets and ensemble performances featuring various combinations of Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed, Youssou N’Dour, Aaron Neville, Steven Van Zandt, Bob Geldof and Bryan Adams.

The companion content includes 17 sequences under the collective title “Context On The Human Rights Concerts”. Among the segments:

? A brand-new documentary about the concert series featuring new exclusive interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend and others.

? New, stand-alone, in-depth interviews with Bruce Springsteen and Sting about their support for Amnesty

? Peter Gabriel’s home movies of the 1986 Amnesty tour featuring backstage moments and an historic jam

? Special messages in support of Amnesty from some of the world’s leading actors, comedians and musicians.

? Archival interviews, promotional sequences, TV news coverage, performances not seen in the original films

? 20-minute animated film about human rights curated in 1988 by Aardman Animation – featuring a specially-created score by David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Danny Elfman and Mark Mothersbaugh.

The companion content also features 15 additional music sequences. Two key performances from the “Secret Policeman’s Ball” series by Pete Townshend and Sting that helped inspired the “Human Rights Concerts” and thirteen new performances given for Amnesty in the last ten years by major music stars that represent part of the legacy of the concert series. The performers for Amnesty from the last decade include: Green Day, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Jeff Beck, Seal, Ozzy Osbourne, Joe Perry, Bono, Damien Rice, Pete Seeger, Evan Rachel Wood, David Byrne.

Eagle-Rock will be issuing RELEASED throughout the world excluding North America. In the United States & Canada, Amnesty’s six-disc RELEASED box-set and a companion two-disc CD set will be issued by Shout! Factory on Tuesday November 5th.


ANN BURROUGHS ? Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA (and a former prisoner-of conscience):

“Throughout our history, we at Amnesty have been the fortunate beneficiaries of the passion and generous commitment of major entertainers in helping us bring the world’s attention to the human rights cause. These concerts were a gigantic step forward in the enduring struggle. We are enormously grateful to all the magnificent musicians who participated in these historic concerts that once again they are helping us raise funds and awareness for the ever-vital work of our movement.”

MARTIN LEWIS ? Producer of ?RELEASED! and co-creator/producer in the 1970s & 1980s of the “Secret Policeman’s Ball” series that inspired the “Human Rights Concerts” series.

“Musicians innately understand key components of human rights such as freedom of expression. It’s at the heart of what they do. Ever since Pete Townshend’s pioneering performance for Amnesty in 1979, the rock music community has been spectacular in its support for Amnesty. These concerts broke new ground in galvanizing audiences to become involved. They fused cause and content in an inspirational way. It’s been an honor to work with Sting, Bruce, Bono, Peter and the other artists in restoring and producing these concerts for home release.”

PETE TOWNSHEND (first performance for Amnesty 1979)

“Amnesty does things that I can’t do in my work. It deals with the specifics of injustice… It makes them public. It was 1979 that I appeared at ‘The Secret Policeman’s Ball’… It was amazing subsequently to see what ‘The Secret Policeman’s Ball’ triggered. Quite big names got involved in supporting Amnesty. And it became apparent that big names in music and Amnesty melded very well. It’s good to see that what I did kicked that off?”

STING (first performance for Amnesty 1981)

“Amnesty in my opinion, is probably the most civilized and civilizing of human organizations. It uses the writing of letters or the commerce of ideas and opinion to change the world rather than a gun or an army or an air force. And that seems to be very civilized to me. And that seems the only way that we will get positive change in the world. And so Amnesty’s a fantastic flagship for that idea. I feel very proud of my association with it. And it’s ongoing…”

BONO (first performance for Amnesty 1986)

“Amnesty International really appeals to me on so many different levels. What I really like about it is that simple action that can join you to somebody. Rather than just read about something in the news, you can be part of that news story. I love the efficiency of just writing a single postcard, and connecting yourself to an event that you previously had no involvement with, maybe not even any knowledge of. You connect yourself with another soul, another sentient being, and in that moment there begins a really powerful relationship.”

PETER GABRIEL (first performance for Amnesty 1986)

“The world is a much better place for knowing that Amnesty’s around it. There’s still an amazing amount more work that needs to be done… that must be done. But Amnesty International have made an extraordinary start…”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (first performance for Amnesty 1988)

“I was looking for something I could do… I would just devote some of my energies to something that felt worth putting our time in. And Amnesty was a great organization and it was just a perfect fit at that moment. You have your miles of road to cover. And you got your cross that you carry over those miles of road. And that’s something that every person has to decide. How they cover those miles. And how they carry the things that connect them to the rest of the human race. Amnesty is a tremendous tool to do that?”

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