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Rock In Rio Is A Wrap

Rock n' roll may never die, but it finally went to sleep in Brazil as the giant ``Rock in Rio'' festival wound up seven days of mega-shows that drew 1.2 million fans for a good time and a ``better world.'' Exhausted but thrilled concert-goers were still streaming home early Monday after Red Hot Chili Peppers topped off the biggest-selling night of a festival that featured 159 bands from around the globe but avoided rioting and major violence. The third ``Brazilian Woodstock'' failed to out-sell the original ``Rock in Rio,'' which drew 1.38 million fans in 1985 making it the world's biggest festival ever. But it was still one of the largest music events of recent years. ``We walked onto the international entertainment stage,'' said Roberto Medina, a businessman and founder of the festival which this year included such diverse acts as Neil Young, Britney Spears and Guns N' Roses. ``I've never played before so many people!'' -- which a dazzled Michael Stipe of R.E.M. shouted at the beginning of the festival -- became a kind of mantra for band after band. The event billed as ``Rock in Rio for a Better World'' opened with three minutes of silence, fans dressed in white and Brazil's Symphony Orchestra playing John Lennon's ``Imagine.'' The festival donated five percent of the $18 ticket price to anti-violence groups. But many foreign acts didn't even know that it had a high-minded end and the mountains of trash and abundance of advertising undermined the message. Still, peace reigned at the shows, which were marred only by minor clashes. Headbangers on metal night, headlined by ``Iron Maiden'' and expected to be problematic, were nothing but demure. Police were called in on Sunday to keep rowdy fans from breaking down the gates at the sold-out Chili Peppers show. Nick Oliveri, the bass player for hard rock act Queens of Stone Age, was arrested for corrupting minors after he appeared on stage wearing nothing but his guitar. He apologized profusely and was shortly released, however. ``You have to take your hat off to the organization since there was no violence or assaults or deaths. ... Brazil succeeded in doing what not even Americans can do,'' said Pedro So, a Brazilian music critic and entertainment writer. Woodstock III, the 30th anniversary show in 1999, ended in riots, looting and sexual assault. Deaths and clashes have also marred other international shows in recent years. But in Rio, fans from Brazil and around the globe turned out to see Guns N' Roses relaunch its career after a seven-year absence from stages and tens of thousands of teeny-boppers converged on the specially built City of Rock to cheer on N' Sync and Britney Spears. Still, the festival did have its music casualties. Antsy Guns N' Roses groupies pelted Brazilian pop star Carlinhos Brown with plastic bottles during his show and fans booed Spears when the American flag appeared on a giant screen during her act. Frictions were not confined to the City of Rock. Six of Brazil's biggest bands dropped out of the festival before it even began saying that organizers favored foreign acts. And in Sao Paulo a group of rap bands held a protest concert since they were excluded from Rock in Rio on the grounds that their followers were too violent. By Shasta Darlington RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - (With additional reporting by Thiane Loureiro and Fatima Santos)
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