June 15, 2001 -- LONDON (Reuters) — Jon Bon Jovi will follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa and Kermit the Frog when he addresses the Oxford Union tonight.
The rock star is more used to performing in front of crowds of up to 60,000 wildly cheering fans in the world's biggest stadiums. "I do have a bit of experience performing in front of crowds, but this audience does present a whole new set of challenges," he said.
"In a way, that's why I accepted the invitation. It wasn't vanity, it was more 'OK, this is a new curve, let's do it.' It is the same feeling that has led me to start at the bottom as an actor and prove myself."
The Oxford Union, founded in 1823, has gained a worldwide reputation for its debate, proving to be a valuable training ground for many future British prime ministers.
Bon Jovi starred alongside Harvey Keitel in U-571, which sparked controversy in the United Kingdom because it portrayed American submarine commanders seizing a German Enigma code machine during World War II — a feat actually achieved by Britain's Royal Navy.
As leader of one of the world's biggest rock bands, Bon Jovi said of his latest challenge, "I am not frightened of failure. I'm frightened of standing still."
His band, which has been topping album charts for 17 years, has performed for 3 million people over the past year, touring in 17 countries. The group's latest album, Crush, has sold 11 million copies.
Oxford Union President Amy Hartland said Jon Bon Jovi has always been a favorite among Oxford students.
"To hear from a man whose music has had such a huge impact across the generations and, indeed, countries would be fantastic," she said.
"We can't wait to hear about his experiences performing across the world and his views on the modern world of music."
Bon Jovi is not the first pop star to take center stage in the debating chamber — Michael Jackson and Barry White have also addressed the students.