Queen Lead AIDS Concert

Second 46664 benefit in South Africa set for next spring

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Rock band Queen, who recently reunited with Bad Company's Paul Rodgers at the helm, are set to perform at the second 46664 benefit concert in South Africa on March 19th. Spearheaded by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the show, whose complete lineup will be released early next year, is intended to raise awareness of the continent's HIV/AIDS crisis.

Named for Mandela's prison number during his eighteen-year sentence, the first 46664, organized by the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, took place was set in Cape Town in November of last year. The four-and-a-half-hour concert -- featuring the Eurythmics, U2 frontman Bono, Beyonce, Peter Gabriel and the Corrs -- was seen by an audience of 40,000 and broadcasted worldwide. All proceeds from the sales of the accompanying CD and DVD went to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to help improve the lives of those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS.

This year's concert will take place at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in George, and will also feature South African artists. The focus will be on the plight of African women impacted by the disease: according to the 46664 Web site, women and girls account for fifty-seven percent of all those infected in sub-Saharan Africa, and for seventy-five percent of those between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four.

Queen, who also performed in the 2003 concert, last week announced a spring European tour, marking their first full-scale tour since the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury from AIDS. "This is a great occasion for Queen to fulfill our continuing commitment to Nelson Mandela's AIDS cause," guitarist Brian May said in a statement of his impending return to South Africa. "It is particularly exciting because this will be the first opportunity for [drummer] Roger [Taylor] and myself to play a full set onstage with Paul Rodgers."

Mandela said in a statement that the second 46664 show will build upon the success of the first one: "It will serve to support the efforts of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and to show the world that South Africa is really addressing this most vital issues. And most importantly, it will help us raise more funds to lead the fight to help those infected and affected by this pandemic."