That list is extensive, to say the least. It includes Maya Angelou, Alec Baldwin, Naomi Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's, Roger Ebert, Mike Farrell, Henry Louis Gates, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Casey Kasem, Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Paul Newman, Peter Norton, Sister Helen Prejean, Rage Against the Machine, Rep. Charles Rangel, Tim Robbins, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sarandon, Gloria Steinem, Sting, Michael Stipe, Oliver Stone and Cornel West.
But Gary Cherone is different.
After calling for backup, the cop ordered the man
To get out of his light blue Volkswagen
William Cook obliged and some words were exchanged
And without provocation, William struck him in the face
Given his resumé (lead singer of Extreme, the voice behind their massive single "More Than Words" and former front man for Van Halen), Cherone would seem to fit in more with the apologists than the widow's allies.
The singer-songwriter told me that he's always been interested in the case and long followed it from afar. Finally, after reading the
trial transcripts and eyewitness testimony, he was inspired to write a song about what happened at 13th and Locust on the morning of Dec. 9, 1981.
But, unlike so many folks stuck in a Hollywood cloud or ivory tower, Cherone was drawn to Maureen Faulkner's side of the story. So he penned "The Murder of Daniel Faulkner."
"I was kind of blown away by the detail of the story," he told me.
The cop hit him back threefold while trying to restrain
When running from across the street, William's brother came
He pulled out a gun, a shot rang out, it all happened so fast
That cop never saw it coming
Wesley shot him in the back
At first, Cherone considered the song a "writing exercise" that he'd simply work through until "it was put on a shelf."
But what he found on another shelf persuaded him to contact Maureen and take the song public.
Cherone picked up "Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice" - the book Maureen and I wrote and published in 2007 - as he wandered through a bookstore a few months after finishing the song.
"I was compelled to buy it and read it. And I was so moved by Maureen's story that I decided to contact" her and share what he'd written, he told me.
The song will be on the soundtrack of the upcoming Tigre Hill film "The Barrel of a Gun." (Visit Smerconish.com/audio.php to hear it.)
The officer then turned around, he fired one shot in Wesley's chest
And before that cop hit the ground both men's bodies bled
Wesley wasn't finished, he was standing over at close range
Four more rounds, he shot him down, once directly in the face
A bullet through the brain
Given Cherone's songwriting and rock-star resumé, Maureen told me that she was "pretty shocked" to hear from him.
Most striking is how meticulously Cherone's lyrics adhere to the facts of the case as they were established during the 1982 trial. No poetic license. And unlike so many of his peers, Cherone's retelling of the story doesn't veer into the realm of fiction.
Shocking, considering the standard set by actor Ed Asner and his Hollywood crowd. Pulitzer Prize-winner Buzz Bissinger once asked Mary Tyler Moore's ex-
co-star whether he'd read the original transcript. "Could I stay awake?" was his snarky reply.
LUCKILY, CHERONE could.
"He read the book, and he studied the facts, and we all have to remember . . . I mean, it's been 30 years," Maureen said to me. "The one good thing is that . . . Gary Cherone and many people have not forgotten about Danny and what actually happened that night he was murdered."
The killer tried to walk away
He didn't get too far
He was slumped up against the curb in front of his brother's car
Police arriving at the scene, four eyewitnesses observed
Yeah, that's the man, blood
on his hands, and the cop he murdered.
Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at www.smerconish.com.