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"I may not be the best bass player in U2, but I am the bass player." — Adam

Bono to Give Harvard Address

U2 frontman to speak at Harvard pre-graduation festivities
Rolling Stone
Should Bono sound a little restrained during U2's June 5th concert at Boston's Fleet Center, fans might want to cut him some slack. In addition to the band's three other performances at the arena that week, he'll also have to save his voice to give a commencement address at Harvard University the very next day.

The U2 frontman and debt relief crusader will speak before graduating seniors as part of the University's June 6th Class Day festivities (which take place the day before graduation). Bono will be joining the ranks of such previous Class Day speakers as Quincy Jones, Tom Brokaw, Hank Aaron and last year's pick, Conan O'Brien.

Class Day speakers are selected by the senior class, and the students were able to get their request to Bono via economics professor Jeffery D. Sachs, who met the singer on the debt relief campaign trail.

"We've been working closely together on [debt relief] for quite a while," says Sachs, who is the director for the university's Center of International Development. "He gave me a call in the spring of '99 and said that he wanted to come and talk about these things, and asked me to invite one of my most skeptical colleagues along so that he could hone his arguments and hear the other points of view. And I just watched him in action in awe."

Sachs says Bono jumped at the invitation to speak to Harvard students, seeing as how the band would be in town anyway. "They're on tour in Boston, which is coincidence -- that's not how the graduation was scheduled," he says, laughing. "The students are beside themselves. This is for Harvard College, the graduating class of the undergraduates, but I'm getting calls from all over the university -- 'Can he come here? Can he be part of our graduation?' There's just an incredible amount of excitement. I'm hoping we can lure him to one or two other things, but that's all to be discussed."

In exchange for his time, Bono will be made an honorary member of the graduating class of 2001. As for his address, Sachs has a pretty good idea what he will talk to students about.

"I assume he'll do his usual of mixing the art and the message -- that's what he does spectacularly," Sachs says. "I'm sure he'll talk to them about debt, but more generally about things they ought to do in the world, that they could do, and what kind of issues he's been engaged in. I've heard him now many times, and it's compelling."

U2 are scheduled to play their second Fleet Center show that night and wrap up their four-night stand in Boston on June 8th and 9th.

© Rolling Stone, 2001. All rights reserved.