Rock Stars Black Keys Used Fame to Do What?

When you get to be a rock star, there are the benefits that have become the stuff of legend and cliche': all the sex you want, trashing hotel rooms with impunity, staying out all night ordering top-shelf intoxicants in the VIP room.

There is another benefit, however, that that's proving attractive to some emerging stars: using fame to do some good. It won't get you on the cover of the tabloids, but it can be satisfying and fun, according to John Peets, of Q Prime, who manages both the Black Keys and Eric Church.

Take, for example, Chin's Place, a Chinese restaurant in the Black Keys' hometown, Akron, Ohio. When the city informed the owner, Elaine Chin, that fixing a broken sewer pipe leading to the restaurant was her sole responsibility, she thought the bill for over $20,000 would put her out of business.

The City of Akron said the Chin family was responsible for hiring and supervising a contractor to dig the pipe out of the city street, replacing it, and repairing the street afterwards.

Fortunately for Chin, Chuck Auerbach, the father of Black Keys guitarist and singer, Dan Auerbach, happened to be a big fan of Chin's authentic roast pork.

As a frequent diner at the family-run restaurant, Chuck called his son and within a couple of days, there was significant media coverage for a raffle at Chin's Place of Black Keys tickets for their Turn Blue tour.

"When you have the kind of attention that Dan and Pat have right now, why not use it to do some good right here?," said Chuck Auerbach.

That promotion raised several thousand dollars for the sewer costs and drew attention to municipal laws that are potentially devastating to other small businesses in the city.

"Dan and Pat are always trying to help out the home town and very conscious of where we came from. They never take that for granted," said Peets. "After everything they've been through, They care about the people where they were raised."

Dan Auerbach and his father recently contributed one of Dan's guitars to an auction to benefit the Cleveland Food Bank, and the two have also raised money for Habitat for Humanity and The Akron School for Visual and Performing Arts.

The Black Keys most significant hometown charity, however, is the Alfred McMoore Fund, which finances services to take care of people with mental disabilities in Akron.

Who was Alfred McMoore?

As Peets tells it, Alfred McMoore was a schizophrenic artist who both Chuck Auerbach and Pat Carney's father used to help out by supplying art materials and and other assistance. At some point, according to Peets, McMore actually lived in the Auerbach's home while Dan was growing up.

After McMoore passed away in 2009, the Auerbachs and others in the community established the McMoore fund to memorialize Alfred and to provide services for those in the community who were afflicted with mental illness.

Mr. McMoore was also the inspiration for the band's name, The Black Keys. "If Alfred thought you were a little off, you know, he would call you a black key," said Peets. "So that where Dan and Pat got the name, because they were a little off."

The Black Keys Alfred McMoore Memorial Fund was established in June 2010 as a permanent income stream for Community Support Services - the local nonprofit organization that helped McMoore get control of mental health issues and remain active artist up until his death. The fund has already raised over 55,000 and their hope is that it will soon become self-sustaining.

Recently, when Dan and Pat got involved with the West Akron Little League, their contribution of a few hundred dollars to support a team get the attention of the community and the league ended up bringing in an unprecedented $30,000

"Because of all the awareness with the band, it just took off," said peets."When you're doing arenas and getting on the radio, that changes everything."

Peets said he and the Black Keys have been talking about how to structure a sustainable fund to leverage their current popularity into a charitable organization that can live on and do good work even as their fame or popularity diminish.

He said they have landed on a broad fund that can funnel resources to various causes as they emerge rather than targeting one particular issue. The organization has not yet been named.

Peets other top client, Eric Church also does a good deal of charity work and has already set up a foundation called Chief Cares, which will give out grants.

With both artists, Peets said that "it's not lost on them how lucky they are and how slim the chances were that they would succeed as much as they have," he said. "So, we are all looking for ways -- while we're in a position of influence -- to make a difference."