Chris Cornell, Dave Grohl & Other Rockers Donate To Addiction Charity

By Paul Fuhr 11/02/17

The late rocker's guitar strap is among the personal items that A-list musicians donated to a charity devoted to addiction recovery.

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Chris Cornell

Before his tragic death in May, rocker Chris Cornell agreed to donate one of his guitar straps to benefit a unique addiction recovery charity. Now, the Audioslave singer’s strap has been turned into a one-of-a-kind timepiece, which is a part of a collection of watches that will be auctioned off to benefit the Recording Academy’s MusiCares MAP Fund.

According to Rolling Stone, several other A-list musicians have followed Cornell’s lead, donating a wide range of personal items that will be converted into timepieces by watchmaker Nixon. The 2017 Rock LTD Collection includes personal items donated by Iggy Pop, Elton John and two former members of Nirvana: drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic. While Nixon launched the watch line for MusiCares in 2005, this marks only the seventh time the collection has been assembled.  

This year’s Rock LTD Collection, which will be available by year’s end, includes nearly 30 pieces that range in price from $1,200 to $1,800. Among the watches being auctioned this year are a Sentry watch designed from Elton John’s “leather paisley-patterned belt”; a Sentry using a “donated Sound City denim jacket” from Novoselic; a Sentry made from a “leather chain wallet and belt” donated by Iggy Pop; and a Sentry created from a “plaid flannel shirt” contributed by Grohl.

Cornell’s guitar-strap piece, however, won’t be included in the line. It will instead tour three Nixon locations (New York, London and Paris) next spring before being auctioned off at a MusiCares benefit in May 2018.

“Addiction is a disease, and we lose far too many loved ones to the illness each day,” Vicky Cornell, the Soundgarden frontman’s widow, said in a statement. “MusiCares is a crucial organization and the MusiCares MAP Fund 100% supports the music community in its fight to protect those battling this affliction.” (Vicky Cornell is no stranger to charities, either, as she helped launch the Seattle-based Chris Cornell Music Therapy Program.)

In 2007, Chris Cornell was honored at a MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert and had been a regular contributor to the Academy’s charity arm. Nixon’s co-founder Chad DiNenna told The Hollywood Reporter that while Cornell had agreed to donate the guitar strap before his death, his family was asked whether the item should still be included in the collection. “This is what he would want,” DiNenna said. 

Every one of the collection’s watches will be hand-numbered and come with a certificate of authenticity. They will also arrive in custom-made cases that feature each artist’s name. “Each piece is unique and to help spread the word for MusiCares,” DiNenna said.

This year’s contributors follow a remarkable lineup of musicians who have previously donated their personal effects to Rock LTD Collections, including Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Richards, The Who’s Pete Townshend, Eddie Van Halen, Steven Tyler, Ringo Starr, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis and Flea, and Dave Navarro, among many others. 

This year’s Rock LTD Collection will be available at global retailers like Ron Robinson, Sun Diego and Toronto’s Got Style, as well as several flagship Nixon locations in London, Paris and New York.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, thanked all the musicians who donated their personal items and described Cornell as “legendary, unique, iconic, thoughtful, provocative and the penultimate musical artist.”

Portnow praised MusiCares for “getting the message out how important it is for everybody to pay attention to these issues—particularly in our creative community,” he told THR. “This [collection] not only raises awareness, but provides a tangible way to help others.”

If nothing else, the watches serve as a fitting reminder that both creativity and sobriety are timeless.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.

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