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‘Tis the season…graduation season, that is.

While the coronavirus pandemic has prevented many graduation ceremonies to be delayed, canceled or take place online, all graduates deserve recognition for their hard work. In honor of graduation season, check out these four great commencement speeches from some of the biggest names in rock.

Bono (University of Pennsylvania, 2004)

Weird ginger hair phase aside, Bono was self-deprecating and uplifting.  He told the graduates, “That’s what this degree of yours is, a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it. Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin, ‘He does not hesitate at our boldest Measures but rather seem to think us too irresolute.’ Well, this is the time for bold measures. This is the country, and you are the generation.”

Bono Delivers Penn's Commencement Address

Lead singer of U2 Bono delivers The University of Pennsylvania 248th Commencement Address to the Class of 2004 at historic Franklin Field, Philadelphia, Penn...


Jon Bon Jovi (Rutgers University Camden, 2015)

JBJ delivered a moving speech in which he said, “Class is over, learning isn’t. Your diploma is a key – to open doors of possibility not only for yourselves, but for others.” However, he also wrote the graduating class a song for them.

 

Alice Cooper (Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, 2012)

While we kind of wished Alice would’ve been in full stage makeup and costume during his speech, Alice still delivered an incredible speech with this brilliant reminder: “If you succeed, you become a genius. If you fail, you become an idiot. You can always start again.”

 

Annie Lennox (Berklee College of Music, 2013)

The Berklee College of Music is one of the most prestigious art institutions in the United States, so they have significant pull when it comes to getting amazing commencement speakers.  Annie Lennox’s address in 2013, however, is one of the standouts in recent years especially with insight like, “Consider this, wherever you think you’re heading right now might turn out to take a completely different path.  What looks like an ending might actually be the start of a brand new beginning.”

Annie Lennox | Berklee Commencement Address 2013

Annie Lennox delivers Berklee's 2013 commencement address, sharing the history of her love of music, and how it singularly shaped her future. She reflects on...

 

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Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.