December 13, 2012


The 12 Most Incredible Backstage Moments at 12-12-12

Aubree Lennon for Fuse
Aubree Lennon for Fuse

If you watched the Hurricane Sandy relief concert 12-12-12 last night, you witnessed insanely epic musical moments that will go down in rock history. Paul McCartney fronted a Nirvana reunion, something no one would EVER have predicted. Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder traded vocals on the Floyd classic "Comfortably Numb." Adam Sandler rewrote Leonard Cohen, for god's sake! It was a crazy night.

When you get this many legends together under one arena-sized roof, awesome things tend to go down backstage. Celebrities you can't imagine sharing the same universe suddenly start talking. Kisses are stolen. Michael Jackson songs are rewritten on the fly.

So from all our time spent backstage at Madison Square Garden during 12-12-12—from rehearsals to chatting with artists as they walked on and off stage—here are the 12 best things we heard during 12-12-12.

1. Dave Grohl Explains How McCartney Came to Front a Nirvana Reunion
"We [Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear and I] called Paul up and asked him if he wanted to collaborate and he said, 'Yeah,'" Grohl told Fuse. "We just started jamming, and we ended up jamming for half an hour. Paul was playing an instrument called a cigtar [cigar box guitar]. After that, we listened to it and then we started to chop it down. And then he said, 'Let's do one take' and it was a great take. That's how you're supposed to do it."

2. Nirvana Bassist Krist Novoselic Barges In on Chris Rock's Interview
When the impossibly tall Krist Novoselic (wearing neon green pants and a purple Paisley shirt, no less) started talking to Chris Rock during his interview with Access Hollywood, no one seemed to believe it was actually happening. But what could have been excruciatingly awkward turned out to be one of the most awesome things I've ever witnessed.

Novoselic tried to introduce himself, but Rock cut him off: "C'mon man, I know you—I was on SNL when you did your first thing [with Nirvana]. And you were nice to me. You probably don't remember, but you guys were really nice to me. Everybody wasn't nice, but you guys were nice. So there you go. I was there, your first time on television." Btw, we've got video footage of this beautiful/bizarre interaction, which you should watch right here and now:

Novoselic, who didn't exactly seem to recall them having met before, replied, "But you're nice enough to let me barge in on your interview. I appreciate that. It's selfless."

Rock just scoffed at that: "Right, because this is something I'm going to take home. It's going to mean so much."

Even Access Hollywood concurred: "This is better than anything we were doing."

3. Paul Schaffer Disses Adam Sandler's Voice After "Hallelujah (Sandy Screw Ya)"
Not really, but sort of. While talking with Fuse about the imposing task of covering the gravel-voiced Leonard Cohen, Sandler's "Hallelujah" collaborator (and Letterman's music man) Paul Shaffer suggested maybe it wasn’t all that hard. “With the rasp, that’s not such a high bar to live up to.” Sandler laughed and shook his head. ”Hey, well, you're Canadian. You can say that. Only Canadian Jews can say that about Leonard Cohen.”

4. Chris Martin Hollers at Jon Bon Jovi
The Coldplay frontman's greeting for the Bon Jovi singer? "Yo JBJ!"

5. Jon Bon Jovi Tries to Steal a Smooch with a Beatle
Yo JBJ, keep it in your pants!

Kevin Mazur
Kevin Mazur

6. Steven Van Zandt Mistook Me for a Handler
While Bruce Springsteen's axeman was signing guitars backstage, I asked him if he was planning on joining the cast of The Sopranos later that night to man the 12-12-12 phone booths. He said yes and noted it had been years since they'd all been together, and then looked at me quite seriously: "So, you'll come get me when they need me, right?" I sort of regret not just taking on that role for the night.

7. Paul McCartney Teases Reporters
When Sir Paul entered MSG, he was playfully reticent to talk. When asked to talk about the evening's big surprise (this was before he tore up the stage with that Nirvana reunion), he offered this extensive tease: "It's a surprise!"

8. Much Like Sandler, Billy Joel Rewrote "We Are the World" (But Only for His Soundcheck)
The lyrics: "We are New York, we are New Jersey, we got f—ked by the hurricane so please start giving." Although you really can't argue with the message, you can see why Joel's Michael Jackson parody did NOT make the 12-12-12 final cut.

9. Roger Waters Had Some Very Old Luggage In Tow
The former Pink Floyd frontman is still carrying around a few of his band's old equipment cases, as you can see. Also, Waters explained to us why he selected Eddie Vedder for the incredible "Comfortably Numb" duet: "I knew he would sing the sh-t out of the song."

10. The Rolling Stones Skipped Their Soundcheck
At first it was like, "Where the hell are the Stones?" Then you started to realize they've been doing this 50 years. They don't need no stinking soundchecks.

11. The Who Cut Their Soundcheck Short to Save $$
On the eve of 12-12-12, things were running late. Presumably in reference to overtime pay regulations, the crew stopped the Who just 15 minutes into their rehearsal and asked if they wanted to practice past midnight. "I don't need a soundcheck anyway," guitarist Pete Townshend immediately shot back. "If it's going to save $250,000, we don't need to do it." Townshend then turned to the nearest stagehand and said, "I don't mean to be rude."

12. McCartney's Soundcheck Offered a Bonus Track
And it was a Beatles song! Macca tore through "Magical Mystery Tour" while a bunch of psychedelic sh-t danced around on the screen behind him (the accompanying video looks like Rainbow Road on Mario Kart 64, actually). Sadly—probably because the event's five-hour run-time turned into six—MSG didn't go on the mystery tour.

For a full backstage pass to 12-12-12, check out these 30 kick-ass behind-the-scenes photos from Madison Square Garden. Plus, we have a slew of interviews with the artists on the 12-12-12 bill that you should maybe-definitely check out.