Farrell, U2's Bono Meld Minds On Concerts To Battle World Poverty

Superstar rockers have been meeting secretly to develop strategies for Jubilee 2000 and NetAid.

Plotting their strategy during low-key summits, U2's Bono and former Jane's Addiction leader Perry Farrell are piecing together plans to battle Third World poverty through concert events and peaceful demonstration.

They are focusing on the Internet concert festival NetAid and the millennium-focused charity organization Jubilee 2000.

Though details are not finalized, the superstar rockers are hoping to use their powerful influence and combined creative energy to recruit other high-profile musicians in a battle against Third World poverty, according to a Jubilee spokesperson and Farrell's manager.

"We hope to give NetAid focus, to make it more about debt," said Jubilee 2000 spokesperson Jamie Drummond, who has been working with the U2 frontman for several months on the projects.

Bono and Farrell -- two of the most politically outspoken and active rock artists today -- have been in close contact in recent months, Drummond added. Farrell's manager, Aaron Chasen, confirmed that the singer, whose hits with hard rockers Jane's Addiction included "Been Caught Stealing" (RealAudio excerpt), has been working with Bono.

In coordinating the musical benefits, Jubilee -- an organization whose goal is to convince the world's richest countries to forgive the vast debts owed by the world's poorest -- has joined forces with the organizers of NetAid. NetAid is planned as a massive international anti-poverty concert scheduled for October, according to Drummond.

Former Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof, who helped organize the landmark 1985 benefit concert Live Aid, which was held simultaneously in England and the U.S., also is involved in both organizations. Live Aid featured performances by such heavy hitters as U2, Led Zeppelin and Sting. Also working on the projects is Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith, according to Drummond.

"I come very much from the Live Aid generation, so to be sitting down with Bob Geldof and Harvey and Bono, discussing what we're going to do, it's incredible," Drummond said.

Like Farrell (born Perry Bernstein), Bono (born Paul Hewson) and U2 have a history of political and social activism. Among U2's biggest politically motivated songs was the 1984 hit "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (RealAudio excerpt), a tribute to slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

NetAid, announced in April, will consist of three simultaneous concerts webcast from New Jersey, London and Geneva on Oct. 8. Jubilee 2000's plans are apparently still in flux.

In an article published Feb. 16 in the UK newspaper the Guardian, Bono wrote that he'd rounded up support for Jubilee 2000 from such big artists as Lauryn Hill, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., the Beastie Boys and Michael Jackson. The Pretenders, David Bowie, Bush, the Eurythmics, Pulp and the Prodigy also have pledged their support, according to the organization.

The United Kingdom-based Jubilee may well put on a concert or concerts of its own, Drummond said -- possibly June 19, when the world's leading economic powers meet for a summit in Cologne, Germany.

Any musical event in June will probably be small in scale, but will include some "famous folks," Drummond said. "It's nice to do things spontaneously sometimes, and an acoustic guitar is quite a light object," he added.

Jubilee's plans for that date include bringing together approximately 70,000 volunteers to form a "human chain" around the world leaders at the summit, symbolizing what the organization calls "debt slavery."

Another possible date for a Jubilee 2000 concert event, possibly in Africa, is New Year's Eve. The organization also hopes to sponsor "some sort of recorded project," Drummond said.

Chasen offered another alternative. He said Farrell was working with Geldof and Bono to organize the world's largest musical festival, which he placed in October of 2000, rather than this year. Chasen said the concert would include shows in New York and Los Angeles.

Drummond declined to comment on Chasen's statement, and representatives for Bono did not return calls for comment.

(Senior writer Gil Kaufman contributed to this report.)