Bono’s Life Before U2

Bono’s Life Before U2

U2’s lead singer Bono is a hugely admired figure both inside and outside the world of music. It’s not just that his music with U2 has brought him devoted fans across the world — he’s a humanitarian and a crusader for the poor, who’s founded the ONE campaign and DATA. As a result both politicians and statesmen have gained a deep respect for Bono and his ability to straddle politics and entertainment like few other pop-culture stars. He has a determination to improve the world that inspires millions regardless of their politics.

Bono’s unusual abilities as an adult come in part from his equally unusual upbringing. He was the child of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother, itself a very unusual thing in Ireland’s deeply sectarian world. Bono was a precocious and outspoken boy as a child, who started his education at a small Protestant junior school and continued on to a Catholic choir school. His time at the latter was, how shall we say, “unsuccessful” — an unhappy Bono ended up being kicked out for throwing dog feces at a Spanish teacher. As a result he was sent to the controversial Mount Temple Comprehensive school, the first co-educational and non-denominational high school in Ireland.

He was happy there, at least for a while. Then, at the age of 14, his mother died suddenly while at the funeral of her father, and his home life took a turn for the worse. He never got on well with his father, in fact.

Shortly after, the young Bono — then known as Paul — also took on his new name. From early, incomprehensible attempts it evolved to the name of a hearing aid store (Bonavox of O’Connell Street) and then further to Bonavox, Bono Vox, and then finally just Bono.

Though Bono wasn’t the greatest of students, he was good at art and history, and better still at romance — he went through a string of girlfriends. Eventually he started dating his later wife, Alison Stewart, in 1976.

Bono said he had a tendency to be promiscuous with his ambitions, and so despite his initial ambition to go into acting he responded to a notice which Larry Mullen Jr. posted on a bulletin board asking for musicians. There, he met David “The Edge” Evans, Adam Clayton, Ivan McCormick, Peter Martin, and Dick Evans. Peter, Ivan, and Dick would end up leaving the bands, but the four remaining boys became a band. First they called themselves Feedback (for the sound that always seemed to come out of the guitar amps), then Hype, and finally U2.

A little while later, Larry, Bono, and Edge also started on a non-denominational Christian rock group called Shalom, though this later created friction inside U2 and the three members later left Shalom. Still, Bono’s Christianity has played a significant role in his life, even if it’s done so largely free of mainstream church influence — Bono’s experience as the son of a Protestant and a Catholic left him highly suspicious of any organized religion.

As part of U2, Bono developed a reputation for being able to connect phenomenally well with fans on a physical and emotional level during their performance. He started doing this during early gigs in clubs and pubs, where he would go out among tables, kissing show-goer’s girlfriends and drinking their wine. During 1985’s Live Aid, he leapt over a security barricade and started dancing with a girl on the floor of the stadium.

If you want to see Bono and U2 live, start thinking about getting the tickets for their next concerts.

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