(d-o-b May 10, 1960, Dublin Ireland)
PERFORMANCE NAME: Bono
ORIGIN OF NAME: Paul
was originally nicknamed "Bono Vox" by his friend, Guggi,
a high school cohort who stole it from a hearing aid store on
O'Connell Street in Dublin. Fittingly enough, the original moniker
meant "good voice" in cockeyed Latin. Paul later shortened
it to Bono, which remains his name to this day.
The Antichrist * (see below), Alton Dalton, The Mother Teresa
of Abandoned Songs, The Sonic Leprechaun, The Fly, Mirrorball
Man, Mister MacPhisto
BAND ROLE: lead singer/songwriter,
Activist. Screenwriter. Orator. Amateur thespian.
MARITAL STATUS: Alison
Stewart (August, 1982)
CHILDREN: Two girls
(Jordan, Memphis Eve) and two boys (Elijah Bob Patricus Guggi
Q, and John Abraham)
Born and raised in
Dublin, Ireland, Paul "Bono" Hewson is the second child
of Bobby and Iris Hewson. His brother, Norman, is the oldest.
Described by Bobby
as "a bloody exasperating child", Paul got a reputation
at an early age for being both absent-minded yet argumentative...traits
which earned him the unholy and ironic nickname "the Antichrist"
from both family and friends.
At the same time, he
was starry-eyed and wickedly curious...the kind of youngster who
viewed the world through rose-colored glasses, while at the same
time questioning what he saw.
The most notable example
of this was witnessed by both Bobby and Iris Hewson when Paul
was three-years-old, playing in their backyard garden: the couple
watched with both horror and fascination as their toddler lifted
honeybees off the flowers on his fingertip, talked to them, then
put them back on the petals without ever getting stung.
At the age of 15, Paul
suffered a tragic and devastating loss, when his mother died of
a brain aneursym while attending the funeral of her own father.
(It's this incident which many fans and writers alike speculate
may be the reason Bono has such a restless and inquisitive nature).
During this time, Paul
also found himself drawn to music and playing the guitar...absorbing
inspiration from the music of such bands as Patti Smith, Thin
Lizzy, The Ramones and Television.
In high school, Paul's
natural gift of gab and flair for the dramatic allowed him to
move within nearly every school circle, and to experiment with
a variety of artistic mediums.
It was also during
this time that Paul got his new name. Credit for this goes to
his friend, Guggi, a high school cohort who stole it from a hearing
aid store on O'Connell Street in Dublin. Fittingly enough, the
original moniker meant "good voice" in cockeyed Latin.
In school, Bono was
a popular kid and a half-decent student. He excelled in history,
chess and art, was considered a good painter, and had many girlfriends
who adored his romantic, sweet-talking ways...although it was
the feisty, no-bull nature of his dark-haired sweetheart Alison
Stewart which eventually got him to become a "one woman"
His greatest enjoyment,
however, seemed to come from performing with a school theater
troupe...during which he often could be seen on stage, singing.
One day in 1976, he
answered an ad posted on a bulletin board at the Mount Temple
Comprehensive School in Dublin, asking for anyone who was interested
in forming a band to meet after school at the house of one Larry
With the younger, no-nonsense
Larry serving as the talented drumming catalyst for the group's
formation, the other members filled out what was to eventually
become U2, one of the world's most memorable and famous rock groups:
a gifted guitarist/guitar builder named Dave Evans, whose eventual
nickname "The Edge" (by varying accounts) came from
either the shape of his skull or his low-key personality; an amateur
bassist named Adam Clayton, whose caftan coats, tinted glasses
and use of such cool words as "gig" and "amp"
made him seem like he knew more about music than he actually did;
and finally, Bono...who couldn't play guitar or really carry a
tune (yet), but whose earnest charm, intense poetic songwriting,
and theatrical persona ultimately won him the position as the
band's frontman and songwriter.
These traits are also
what earned Bono and U2 their worldwide fame (and, at times, notoriety).
As the group's lead
singer and lyricist, Bono has written songs which have taken people
on spiritual journeys, turned them on sexually, or inspired them
At the same time, he
has repeatedly flogged himself in the press for not being a proper
"pop star" and has continually expressed a desire to
become a great singer. Yet his powerful voice has evolved and
morphed over the years with a versatility rarely heard in most
rock bands: at the start of the decade, it was a teenage croon
full of longing and rebellion on such 80's albums as "Boy"
and "War"; near the end, it was a throaty roar full
of anger and passion on "The Unforgettable Fire," "The
Joshua Tree," and "Rattle and Hum."
Though he is known
as a socially-conscious songwriter who has tried to inspire crowds
with his lyrics, Bono is a rarity in that he also tries to connect
with them physically during a performance. The best example of
this was seen by millions during the 1980's...especially the Live
Aid concert in 1985, when (mid-way through an epic rendition of
"Bad") he leapt off the stage, over a security barricade
to the floor of the arena, and pulled a woman from the crowd to
dance with her.
In the 90's, when U2's
political earnestness ultimately threatened to turn them into
a caricature (due mostly to Bono's often politically-charged,
on-stage sermonizing), the band vanished into Berlin, Germany
to remake itself with a new sound.
Having a full appreciation
for the Brechtian and surrealist origins of rock performance,
the lead singer followed suit...and altered his own earnest image
into something more cyberpunk. With the help of band stylist "Fighting"
Fintan Fitzgerald, Bono stylized his once-brown shoulder length
hair into a jet-black coif, donned a pair of bubble-eye wraparound
sunglasses, and slid into a skin-tight leather suit to become
a funkified banshee called The Fly, a cool phantom hoodlum who
howled amid the dark electronic flash and shash of the band's
watermark album, "Achtung Baby."
This character --part
Jim Morrison, part Lou Reed and all trash -- begat other characters
who appeared onstage during the band's worldwide Zoo TV tour:
the Mirrorball Man, a glittering tribute to televangelists all
over the world...and Mister MacPhisto, a gold lame-suited cross
between the devil and Elvis all wrapped up in the frame of a broken-down
soul singer during his final Vegas days.
During this time, Bono
also established himself as having a gift for lionizing others,
as evidenced by his moving induction of both Bob Marley into the
Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame, and his lifetime achievement tribute
to Frank Sinatra at the 1994 Grammy Awards. More recently, he
gave Bruce Springsteen an equally-memorable induction into the
Rock 'n Roll Hall.
rigors of touring and the strain of singing night-after-night
took a severe toll on Bono's pipes...especially during the group's
monstrous Popmart tour in 1997.
Having picked up the
bad habit of inhaling the cheroots he puffed on the Zoo TV tour,
Bono became a full-fledged smoker while on the road; a habit which,
combined with a severe sinus infection, had a disastrous effect
on his voice...which he lost on more than a few tour dates, particularly
the band's history-making show in Sarajevo.
the tour, he was admitted to the hospital to have the problem
corrected and has since quit smoking, after doctors told him it
would permanently damage his singing.
Weeks after the surgery,
he was in the studio recording and performing with his band and
other artists, such as soul singer Kirk Franklin and rapper Wyclef
Beyond U2, Bono has
extended himself to other projects and causes, and has emerged
over the years to be both a social animal and an activist...and
has rallied numerous actors, artists and activists to his cause...most
recently, his bid to end Third World Debt as spokesman for the
Jubilee 2000 project and Netaid. Bono was recently presented with
the Free Your Mind Award at the MTV Europe Awards held in Dublin,
Ireland, in acknowledgement for his work on behalf of the Jubilee
2000 project to end Third World Debt. After receiving the award
from Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, the clearly-humbled
singer humorously remarked: "This is only going to make me
When he wasn't crusading
for the poor, Bono spent the latter part of 1999 composing and
performing music for "The Million Dollar Hotel," a new
Wim Wenders film starring Mel Gibson, which he wrote with the
help of screenwriter Nicholas Klein. Bono will also make a brief
appearance in the movie. It is his second film role, having previously
appeared as himself in "Entropy," an indie flick made
by "Rattle and Hum" director Phil Joanou.
Today, he counts --and
has counted-- among his numerous acquaintances and friends such
names and faces as Brian Eno, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Trudie
Styler, Quincy Jones, Tina Turner, Bjork, President Bill Clinton,
Jack Nicholson, Mohammed "Mo" Sacirbey, U-N Secretary
General Kofi Annan, Frank and Barbara Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen,
Salman Rushdie, Sean Penn, David Bowie, Van Morrison, Sir Bob
Geldof, Phil Joanou, Johnny Cash, Billy Corgan, William Gibson,
and Muhammad Ali.
Despite the obvious
privilege of his lifestyle, Bono continues to display a generosity
and genuine nature that is impressive to both friends and fans
alike...the kind of person who could work a roomful wealthy socialites,
then stop to chat with fans on the street about music, and then
be seen giving cash handouts to the homeless.
He and his wife, Ali,
continue to make their home in Dublin with their four children.