Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Warren Buffett & Jon Bon Jovi: A Ukulele Duet For Charity
On Tuesday more than 100 of America’s greatest entrepreneurs gathered in New York for the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, a private discussion of ways to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. The results from this historic meeting will be revealed in Forbes this fall.
But the most whimsical moment won’t wait (mostly because of a plethora of camera phones): a ukulele duet between Warren Buffett and Jon Bon Jovi.
This unlikely pairing came out of a desire to help the world. Last year, Bon Jovi topped Forbes’ rankings of the most charitable celebrities, as defined by those who use the greatest percentage of their fame to generate good. His JBJ Soul Foundation rescues those in need, most recently opening the Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant which invites diners to leave a donation for their meal, or if they can not, to volunteer. Buffett, besides being the greatest investor of all-time, is one of the greatest philanthropists – he’s donating 99% of his fortune to charity, and rather than create something that boosts his name for a century or two, that money will be spent to help people within 10 years of his passing.
Both spoke inspiring words at the Summit. Bon Jovi also co-hosted an end of the night reception, which raised awareness and money for his foundation. Knowing that Buffet played the ukulele, I asked him to join Bon Jovi ] for a song and he accepted, with one caveat: that they play “The Glory of Love,” popularized by…Bette Midler.
Buffett learned the ukulele 60 years ago, he told me, as a way to court girls (though the person it impressed most was his future father-in-law). The Midler song was one of only a handful of songs that he knew by heart, and having Jon learn the lyrics to that seemed a lot easier than having Warren bone up on the chords for “Livin’ on a Prayer” or “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
And so an odd bit of history was made. The end result: a charming duet from the wealthiest supergroup of all-time. And a fittingly charitable one. As Buffett emailed me a few days ago, reflecting on their soon-to-be performance: “The first line of ‘The Glory of Love,’ incidentally, is ‘You’ve got to give a little.’ So I think it’s quite appropriate for the occasion.”
(I embedded the video, but if it doesn't show up, click the source link and its at the top of the page.)