LOS ANGELES (Top40 Charts) - Some of the biggest names from both the music and entertainment communities came out to honor U2 singer Bono for his philanthropic efforts Thursday
night (February 14) in Hollywood. The Love Rocks event at the new Kodak Theatre featured musical performances by No Doubt, Lauryn Hill, and R.E.M.
with Cher; stand-up comedy from Drew Carey, Ray Romano, and Kevin
Nealon; and brief speeches by Tom Cruise, Kevin
Spacey, and Disney's Michael Eisner.
Calling the event an "unnerving occasion," Bono accepted his the Entertainment Industry Foundation's (EIF) Heart Of Entertainment Award by saying, "Right down the hall from beatification comes crucifixion, so I'd better enjoy this." His talk soon turned serious, focusing on his latest humanitarian quest: debt relief for third world nations and the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
Bono also called on the entertainment community--they who, he said, have historically sold the concept of the American Dream to the world--to broaden the scope of that dream. "Can we make it big enough to fit and affect the lives of the poorest of the poor, the wretched. Eight million people die every year for the price of going out with your friends to the movies and buying an ice cream. Literally for about $30 a head per year, you could save 8 million lives. Isn't that extraordinary? Preventable disease--not calamity, not famine, nothing like that--preventable disease, just for the lack of medicines. That is cheap. That is a bargain," he said.
Bono then concluded, "I promise you this--that those lives that were lost on September the 11th, that is their only fitting memorial. Not just the pursuit of justice, but the pursuit of a less dangerous, safer, fairer, more inclusive world. Thank you very much."
No Doubt warmed up the crowd early with a three-song set featuring the group's latest single, "Hey Baby," the previous hit "Simple Kind Of Life," and a reggae-tinged version of U2's "Sweetest Thing." The reclusive Lauryn Hill followed with a warmly embraced two songs on acoustic guitar.
But it was R.E.M.'s later appearance that electrified the room. Playing mostly as a foursome, the group first performed "Imitation Of Life." Afterward, frontman Michael Stipe offered, "Singer, songwriter, statesman, fashion plate(R.E.M. guitarist) Peter (Buck) sometimes even dresses like the guy. A man of great style who truly needs no introduction. Mr. Bono, this song goes out to you."
The group then launched into "I Got You Babe," a song made famous by the other Bono, Sonny Bono. Midway through, R.E.M. played the joke to the hilt with a surprise appearance by the other half of the singing duo that made the song a hit, Cher. After the song, Cher told the U2 singer, "I have never done that song without (Sonny) Bono, so this one's for you."
R.E.M. followed with its own "Losing My Religion," and then came back after Bono's speech to perform U2's "One." The event closer soon featured an appearance by the honored guest, who stuck by Stipe at the front of the stage and offered a smattering of vocals to his own song.
Others making the scene included Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, Quincy Jones, Evan & Jaron, Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro with wife Carmen Electra, Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora with wife Heather Locklear, Sean Penn, Heather Graham, Shannon Elizabeth, and, via video messages, Mick Jagger and former President Bill Clinton.
Jagger, speaking via a video message from the set of his next video, praised his friend. "I remember when you started your thing up for the third-world debt, a lot of people said, 'Why don't you just leave this job to the professionals and you get on with your own life?' But I suppose you've got to remember that it was the professionals that built the Titanic and the amateurs that built the Ark. Well, I guess humanitarian of the year, it's a long line from Albert Schweitzer to Mother Teresa, Princess Diana...but remember Bono: None of them ever had a hit single," he said.
Love Rocks also served to launch the EIF's National Cardiovascular Research Initiative, which gives $3 million in first-year support to battling cardiovascular disease.