Having been eased
out of high school earlier in the year, Adam Clayton found himself
free to spend the following months acting as manager for the fledgling
U2, for whom he also served as bassist. Music had been a passion
for Adam since discovering rock'n'roll in the mid-seventies, and
he was whole-heartedly and optimistically committed to his band
and his vision, an "undeniable belief" as The Edge later
remembered. Although Paul McGuinness had assumed official managerial
duties back in May, here was Adam hawking U2's second demo tape
to anyone who would listen. Adam's defiant acts and attitudes
in his schoolboy days are legendary, and serve preparatory notice
of his extreme sense of bluff -- if you can talk the talk, you
can arrange to walk the walk at the first available opportunity.
This adolescent bluff
translated to adult confidence, a characteristic well-needed when
Adam found himself the band's outsider in the early eighties,
while the other members contemplated the fate of the band from
a spiritually troubled perspective. However, Adam's position was
never seriously in jeopardy, as illustrated by his attendance
as best man at Bono's 1982 wedding.
Band crises pushed
out of the way for the time being, U2 continued their journey
further up and further into the hearts of people the world over.
Adam's inventive and memorable basslines defined such classics
as "New Year's Day" and "With Or Without You";
meanwhile with Larry on drums he gradually consolidated the backbone
of the 'U2 sound'. His relaxed riffs presented a pleasant contrast
to the precise drumming, the two aspects filling the background
of each U2 song in a way that allowed Bono and The Edge the freedom
to move around unhindered with their respective instruments.
In August 1989, Adam's
name made the headlines when he was arrested in Dublin and charged
with possession of a small amount of cannabis, with the intent
to supply the drug to others. He avoided a conviction (which would
have had serious repurcussions on his international touring schedule
with U2) by making a sizable donation to charity. His regret,
even years later, was not of the nature of the crime, but the
fact that it was a crime: "It was my own fault. And I'm sure
I was out of my head -- emotionally apart from anything else.
But it is serious because it is illegal."
It was in the Zoo TV
years that Adam really seemed to finally gain a public persona
along with the others. The 'ultimate rock star' phase that the
band explored was entirely suited to his playboy lifestyle, and
Adam soaked it all up. Loose, brightly coloured clothes, peroxide-blonde
hair, perma-cigarette&shades and the company of supermodels.
Even more crucially, he had the talent to back it up -- "Zoo
Station", "Until the End of the World", "Mysterious
Ways", "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World",
"Babyface", "Lemon", "Some Days Are Better
Than Others" -- never had Adam shined so brightly.
However, towards the
end of the tour, the unthinkable happened -- Adam missed a gig.
For the first time ever, U2 went on stage without one of their
own. In the aftermath of a romantic break-up, and suffering an
ever-worsening dependence on alcohol, Adam had been steadily declining,
until one night it all was all too much. At the time, things looked
grim for the easy-going bassist; however, with the light of hindsight,
it was the beginning of a new lease on life. In a retrospective
Hot Press interview in 1998, Adam came clean about his character:
"I am one of those
characters that has an addictive personality. And it's an emotional
problem as much as it is a physical problem and I had to start
dealing with that. And that's the hard road, figuring out the
psychology of it. The avoiding substances of any kind is hard
but, okay, it's not that hard. It's facing the devil inside you,
that's the tricky bit."
Heading to New York
City with Larry, the newly-sober Adam, until then entirely self-taught,
undertook bass lessons in an effort to expand his knowledge of
the instrument. Pausing for various soundtrack-related projects
-- including his first recorded vocal on Passengers' "Your
Blue Room" and a UK Top 10 hit with "Theme From 'Mission:
Impossible'" (a collaboration with Larry) -- Adam underwent
something of a renaissance, and emerged for the Pop sessions fresh
and ready. The evidence? His progressive contributions to the
songs speak for themselves -- "MoFo", "Gone",
"Miami" and "Please" feature the riffs of
his career, inventive, complex and original.
Adam joined U2 to fulfill
his dream of being in a band, of playing bass for a living. In
his 1995 book "U2 At the End of the World", Bill Flanagan
"Bono says that
Larry really wishes he were the singer, Bono wants to be the guitarist,
and Edge is a frustrated drummer. 'Adam only wants to play the
Not only did Adam realise
his dream, he also found three special friends in Bono, The Edge
and Larry Mullen. Reflecting in 1997 about Adam's hard times,
Bono admitted, "I don't care about gigs, I care about, y'know,
us. If there's a choice, I'm not going to put the people, however
much they're paying, before me mates.