Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer with heavy metal group Iron Maiden, received honorary citizenship of Sarajevo on Saturday, in recognition of a concert he played there during the siege of the city.
Dickinson took his band to the Bosnian capital in December 1994, travelling with an aid convoy escorted by UN peacekeepers.
At the time, the city was still caught in the 44-month siege by Bosnian-Serb troops that eventually cost more than 11,000 lives.
“It took a lot of courage and humanity to come to a devastated and besieged Sarajevo in 1994, to say no and to speak out for the halting of the worst war in Europe since World War II,” Igor Gavric, head of the city council, said at the ceremony.
The concert had allowed the people of the city to believe that they and the city would survive, said the citation.
“We didn’t stop the war but what we did do was we made people feel better about being there – and that’s all musicians can do,” Dickinson told journalists after the ceremony.
“It’s politicians and armies and generals that stop wars. Music speaks to people and makes them feel better about their lives et their emotions.”
A new generation discovered the concert via a recent documentary about it, “Scream for me, Sarajevo!”, the title taken from what Dickinson shouted to his audience.
During the siege, between 1992 and 1996, the city’s 350,000 residents struggled to get basic necessities and thousands were killed by sniping and shelling.