''It would be wrong for me to say, 'Yes, we can change the world with a song.' But every time I try writing, that's where I'm at. I'm not stupid. I'm aware of the futility of rock & roll music, but I'm also aware of its power.'' Bono
Bono, the lead singer and front man of the politically-charged, Grammy-winning Irish rock band U2, has risen to super stardom thanks to the band's commercial and critically successful albums ''War'' (1983), ''The Unforgettable Fire'' (1984), ''The Joshua Tree'' (1987), "Rattle and Hum" (1988), "Achtung Baby" (1991), "Zooropa" (1993), ''Pop'' (1997), "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (2000) and ''How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb'' (2004). Their smash hit singles include "Mysterious Ways," "Where The Streets Have No Name," "Beautiful Day," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," "Discothèque," "Staring at the Sun" and "Vertigo."
''I don't know why, but we always had this belief that there was something sacred about our music, that it was almost holy, as absurd as that sounds.'' Bono
As the lead singer of U2, Bono has also helped influence the direction of music by not only writing songs about love, but also about peace and freedom. Bono, who has been voted the most powerful personality in the music industry by music execs, has collaborated with great artists including Tina Turner, Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavorotti.
A Rock & Roll star who always wears goggle-like sunglasses, Bono is also known as an earnest advocate for various political causes, in particular world hunger and African poverty. In 2005, he shared Time magazine's Person of the Year award with Bill and Melinda Gates and was awarded Honorary Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006. He has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bono has been married to his high school sweetheart, Ali Hewson, since 1982. They have two sons and two daughters.
Paul David Hewson
Childhood and Family:
Paul David Hewson, who would later be famous as Bono, was born on May 10, 1960, in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Brendan Robert "Bob" Hewson, who was Roman Catholic, died of cancer in Dublin on August 21, 2001, and his mother, Iris Hewson, a Protestant, died of a brain hemorrhage in 1974 (within days of the death of her own father), when Bono was 14 years old. Many songs from U2's albums, including "I Will Follow," "Mofo," "Out of Control," "Lemon" and "Tomorrow," focus on the loss of his mother. Bono also has one older brother named Norman Hewson.
Bono, nicknamed ''Bon,'' ''B-Man'' or ''The Mirrorball Man,'' attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School, a multi denominational school in Dublin, Ireland, where he met the future members of U2 and his present wife, Ali Stewart Hewson (born March 23, 1961). Bono and Ali began their relationship in 1975 and were later married on August 21, 1982, in a Church of Ireland (Anglican) ceremony at All Saints Church, Raheny (built by the Guinness family), with U2 bass player Adam Clayton acting as Bono's best man. They have four children together: sons John Abraham Hewson (born on May 21, 2001) and Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q Hewson (born in August 1999), and daughters Memphis Eve Hewson (born in July 1991) and Jordan Hewson (born on May 10, 1989; shares a birthday with Bono; she was born on his 29th birthday).
Bono lives in Killiney in South County Dublin, Ireland, with his family and shares a villa in Èze in the Alpes-Maritimes in the south of France with The Edge, as well as an apartment at The San Remo in Manhattan.
''Overcoming my dad telling me that I could never amount to anything is what has made me the megalomaniac that you see today.'' Bono
Changing the World
''Music can change the world because it can change people.'' Bono
During his childhood and adolescence, Bono was member of a surrealist street gang called "Lypton Village," where he acquired his current stage name (means ''good voice'' in Latin).
In 1976, fellow student/drummer Larry Mullen Jr. placed an advertisement on a bulletin board at Bono's High School seeking musicians for a new rock band. Bono quickly responded to the ad as did guitarists The Edge (David Howell Evans) and Dick Evans, as well as bass guitar player Adam Clayton. The newly-formed band initially picked the name of ''Feedback'' and "The Hype," before eventually changing their name to ''U2'' after Dick (nicknamed 'Dik') Evans left the group.
"When we started out I was the guitar player, along with the Edge, except I couldn't play guitar. I still can't. I was such a lousy guitar player that one day they broke it to me that maybe I should sing instead. I had tried before but I had no voice at all. I remember the day I found I could sing. I said, 'Oh, that's how you do it.'" Bono
Coming to the band as a guitarist, Bono was later singing into the microphone. His charismatic stage presence would help U2 gain a reputation for live performances. However, Bono occasionally still plays rhythm guitar and harmonica. He also writes the lyrics for almost all U2 songs, most of which are rich in social, religious and political themes.
''U2 is sort of song writing by accident really. We don't really know what we're doing and when we do, it doesn't seem to help.'' Bono
In 1978, the band won a talent contest and was approached by a manager. Two years later, in 1980, they singed a recording contract with Island Records and released their debut album, ''Boy.'' Two years after the release of their second album ''October'' (1981), U2 issued their most successful album of the 80’s and their first overtly political album, ''War'' (1983), which spawned such hits as "New Years Day," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (the lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of The Troubles in Northern Ireland), and "Two Hearts Beat As One."
In 1984, U2 had their first major pop hit with their tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., "Pride (In The Name Of Love)," which was featured in their album "The Unforgettable Fire." The following year, they performed at the humanitarian concert Live Aid organized by Bob Geldof.
After U2's live album release, ''Under a Blood Red Sky,'' the band hit it big with their 1987 album ''The Joshua Tree.'' U2 was launched to super stardom thanks to the smash hit songs "With Or Without You" and "Where The Streets Have No Name." U2 subsequently followed the release of their massively successful album with their most successful tour to date. In 1988, they were featured in Phil Joanou’s documentary ''U2: Rattle and Hum,'' which chronicles the bands 1987 tour of North America.
With follow-up albums such as ''Rattle and Hum'' (1988), ''Achtung Baby'' (1991) and ''Zooropa'' (1993), U2 became one of the three bands in history to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. They were hailed as "Rock's Hottest Ticket" and played to sold out worldwide venues.
In 1994, their songs ''Thief Thief of Your Heart'' of the film ''In the Name of the Father'' and ''Stay'' of the film ''In Weiter Ferne, So Nah!'' was nominated for Best Original Song - Motion Picture, at the Golden Globes. The following year, they scored a hit again with the song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" from the ''Batman Forever'' soundtrack. It was nominated for Best Original Song - Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. Three years later, in 1998, they signed a deal with Polygram Records worth $50 million to release 3 hits compilations. They later were nominated for Best Long Form Music Video at the Grammy Awards in 1999 for their video release, ''U2: PopMart Live from Mexico City.''
Meanwhile, Bono, who is known for his antics both on and off stage, has been involved with various side projects. He has collaborated with such artists as Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Luciano Pavarotti, Sinéad O'Connor, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and BB King. He has recorded with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Bruce Springsteen, and Tony Bennett. He plays bass guitar and vocals on Robbie Robertson's 1987 album and completed a recording of ''Slide Away'' as a duet with Michael Hutchence. He also wrote a short story and screenplay titled ''The Million Dollar Hotel.''
Bono and his band members are not only known for their success and talent in contemporary rock, but also for their political and charitable activism. In 1984, Bono appeared on Band Aid's charity recording "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and following U2's historic Live Aid performance in 1985, he traveled with his wife Ali to Ethiopia, where there they spent several weeks helping with an educational and famine relief project. Bono and his band then headlined Amnesty International's Conspiracy of Hope tour in 1986.
In 1997, the same year their sixth studio album ''Pop'' was released, U2 held the first major concert event in Sarajevo after the war ended, after making a promise on New Years Eve in 1995 to return to Sarajevo to perform. In 1999, Bono teamed up with Wyclef Jean to record "New Day" with profits going to charity (NetAid). Bono's most extensive social campaign was Jubilee 2000, another project orchestrated to cancel third world debts that included supporters such as Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, and producer Quincy Jones. During the Jubilee 2000 campaign, Bono spoke before the United Nations and the United States Congress and met with key figures such as Pope John Paul II and Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, U2 issued their tenth studio album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind."
In 2001, U2 performed "Peace On Earth/Walk On" for a landmark fundraiser called ''America: A Tribute To Heroes,'' which was aired by all the major networks to raise money for families of the victims of recent terrorist attacks. He also delivered a lecture on the Class Day Address at Harvard. Since the end of the ''Elevation'' tour in December 2001, Bono has continued to be actively involved in campaigning for debt relief in Africa. He visited Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in May 2002 and has continued to work with DATA (Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa) with the support of several world leaders and financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bono received the rank of Chevalier dans l'Ordre de la Legion d'Honneur (Knight in the Order of the Legion of Honor) from French President Jacques Chirac on February 28, 2003, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for his successful efforts to relieve third world debt and promote AIDS awareness in Africa. Meanwhile, U2 was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Song for ''The Hands That Built America'' from the film ''Gangs Of New York,'' but lost to Eminem's "Lose Yourself." In 2004, they were nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Original Song for ''Time Enough For Tears'' from the film ''In America.'' Also that year, the band released "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," their commercially successful and critically acclaimed eleventh studio album.
2005 saw U2 inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Bono was named by Time magazine as one of the “Persons of the Year,” along with Bill and Melinda Gates. Meanwhile, along with Bob Geldof, Bono helped organize and publicize Live 8, a series of 10 concerts around the globe aimed at encouraging the representatives of the world's industrialized countries at the Group of Eight Summit to write off Africa's enormous debt, reform trade policy, and grant a great deal more aid for crises such as the AIDS epidemic. He also launched the socially conscious, high-fashion casual wear line EDUN with his wife Ali and New York fashion designer Rogan Gregory, which benefits poor, developing countries. That same year, Bono was one of the 166 people nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Third World debt relief and increasing AIDS awareness.
"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching." Bono
In 2006, Bono was among the 191 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize again and received the Neruda Award, Chile’s highest award for the arts, from President Ricardo Lagos. He was also voted one of the “Top Ten Most Generous Celebrities in Hollywood” by Forbes. By this time, he had donated a guitar to Brazil's Zero Hunger Campaign and visited the Nordstom Store in Chicago with his wife Ali to promote a designer T-shirt that raised money to pay for AIDS medication and medical care in Africa. He also guest-edited Britain's The Independent newspaper, filling its pages with stories on HIV/AIDS in Africa, poverty and global warming.
Recently, in 2007, Bono had his iconic sunglasses sold for the bargain price of $24,000 in a New York auction held to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina who are still struggling to rebuild their lives. He also met with presidential candidate Barak Obama to discuss foreign assistance to anti-poverty and global health causes. He was made Knight of the British Empire in March and was awarded the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work in Africa in September.
''It's an amazing thing to think that ours is the first generation in history that really can end extreme poverty, the kind that means a child dies for lack of food in its belly. That should be seen as the most incredible, historic opportunity but instead it's become a millstone around our necks. We let our own pathetic excuses about how it's 'difficult' justify our own inaction. Be honest. We have the science, the technology, and the wealth. What we don’t have is the will, and that’s not a reason that history will accept.'' Bono
Bono also made a surprise appearance at the U.K. premiere of a new musical film based on the Beatles songs, ''Across the Universe,'' in which he makes a cameo appearance as a shaman called Dr Robert. He has reportedly collaborated with the Spice Girls to record a new single to attract more fans for the reunited Brit pop band and there is already talk of a new U2 album, possibly for a Broadway musical or maybe even both a studio record and a Broadway recording. Rumors say that U2 have written 20 songs for a Broadway show based on Spider-Man. The show will feature all new music.
Grammy: Album Of The Year, ''How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,'' 2006
Grammy: Best Rock Album, ''How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,'' 2006
Grammy: Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, ''Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own,'' 2006
Grammy: Best Rock Song, ''City Of Blinding Lights,'' 2006
Grammy: Song Of The Year, ''Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own,'' 2006
Grammy: Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, ''Vertigo,'' 2004
Grammy: Best Short Form Music Video, ''Vertigo,'' 2004
World Soundtrack: Best Original Song Written for a Film, “Gangs of New York,” 2003 (for the song ''The Hands That Built America'')
Grammy: Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, ''Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of,'' 2001
Grammy: Best Rock Album, ''All That You Can't Leave Behind,'' 2001
Grammy: Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, ''Elevation,'' 2001
Grammy: Record Of The Year, ''Walk On,'' 2001
Grammy: Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, ''Beautiful Day,'' 2000
Grammy: Record Of The Year, ''Beautiful Day,'' 2000
Grammy: Song Of The Year, ''Beautiful Day,'' 2000
ASCAP Film and Television Music: Most Performed Song from Motion Pictures, “Batman Forever,” 1996 (for the song ''Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me'')
Grammy: Best Music Video - Long Form, ''U2: Zoo TV Live from Sydney,'' 1995