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Bono singing in Indianapolis on Joshua Tree Tour 2017 9-10-17.jpg
Paul David Hewson

(1960-05-10) 10 May 1960 (age 61)
Dublin, Ireland
Other namesBono Vox
EducationMount Temple Comprehensive School
  • Singer-songwriter
  • activist
  • philanthropist
  • venture capitalist
  • businessman
OrganizationOne Campaign
(m. 1982)
Children4, including Eve Hewson
AwardsFull list
Musical career
OriginFinglas, Dublin, Ireland
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • harmonica
Years active1976–present
Associated acts

Paul David Hewson KBE (born 10 May 1960), known by his stage name Bono (/ˈbɒn/), is an Irish singer-songwriter, activist, philanthropist, and businessman.[1] He is the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of rock band U2.

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his future wife, Alison Stewart, as well as schoolmates with whom he formed U2 in 1976.[2][3] Bono soon established himself as a passionate frontman for the band through his expressive vocal style and grandiose gestures and songwriting. His lyrics frequently include social and political themes, and religious imagery inspired by his Christian beliefs.[4][5] During U2's early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to the group's rebellious and spiritual tone.[4] As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with the other members.[2][4] As a member of U2, Bono has received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Aside from his music, Bono is an activist for social justice causes, both through U2 and as an individual. He is particularly active in campaigning for Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red.[2][6] In pursuit of these causes, he has participated in benefit concerts and lobbied politicians and heads of state for relief.[6][7][8] Bono has been honoured for his philanthropic efforts.[9][10][11] In 2005, Bono was named one of the Time Persons of the Year. He was granted an honorary knighthood by Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 2007 for "his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work", and was made a Commandeur of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) in 2013.[9][12][13] Bono has also attracted criticism for bypassing African businesses in his activist efforts and for tax avoidance in his personal finances.

Outside the band, he has recorded with numerous artists.[14][15][16] He has collaborated with U2 bandmate the Edge on several projects, including songs for Roy Orbison and Tina Turner and the soundtracks to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and a London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. In business, he invested in the refurbishment of the Clarence Hotel in Dublin, and was managing director and a managing partner of the private equity firm Elevation Partners, which invested in several companies.[17][18][19]

Early life

Bono was born Paul David Hewson in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, on 10 May 1960,[20] as the second child of Iris (née Rankin) and Brendan Robert "Bob" Hewson; Bono's brother, Norman, is eight years his senior. Bono was raised in the Northside suburb of Finglas.[21][22] The Hewson household was an interdenominational Christian one; Bono's mother was a member of the Church of Ireland, and his father was a Roman Catholic.[23][2] His parents initially agreed that the first child would be raised Anglican and the second Catholic.[24] Although Bono was the second child, he also attended Church of Ireland services with his mother and brother.[24] Bono's teenage musical idols were Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T. Rex.[25]

He attended the local primary school, Glasnevin National School.[26] Bono's mother died on 10 September 1974, after suffering a cerebral aneurysm at her father's funeral.[2] Many U2 songs, including "I Will Follow", "Mofo", "Out of Control", "Lemon" and "Tomorrow", focus on the loss of his mother.[2][27][28]

After attending St. Patrick's Grammar School for a year, Bono began to attend Mount Temple Comprehensive School, a multi-denominational school in Clontarf.[29] During his childhood and adolescence, Bono and his friends were part of a surrealist street gang called "Lypton Village". One of his closest childhood friends, Guggi, was also in Lypton Village. The gang had a ritual of nickname-giving. Bono had several names: first, he was "Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang",[30] then just "Huyseman", followed by "Houseman", "Bon Murray", "Bono Vox of O'Connell Street", and finally just "Bono".[2] "Bono Vox" is an alteration of bonavox, a Latin word which translates to "good voice". It is said he was nicknamed "Bono Vox" by his friend Gavin Friday. He initially disliked the name; however, when he learned it translated to "good voice", he accepted it. Hewson has been known as "Bono" since the late 1970s. He uses Bono as his stage name; close family, friends and fellow band members also refer to him as Bono.[2]

After Bono left school, his father told him he could live at home for one year, but if he was not able to pay his own way, he would have to leave the house.[31]

Musical career


On 25 September 1976, Bono, David Evans ("The Edge"), his brother Dik Evans, and Adam Clayton responded to an advertisement on a bulletin board at Mount Temple posted by fellow student Larry Mullen Jr. seeking people interested in forming a rock band. The band had occasional jam sessions in which they did covers of other bands. Tired of long guitar solos and hard rock, Bono wanted to play The Rolling Stones and Beach Boys songs.[32] The band could not play covers very well, so they started writing their own songs.[33]

A black and white image of a light-skinned man singing into a microphone. He is visible from the chest up and wears a sleeveless black shirt with an opened sleeveless white vest overtop. A small cross is worn around his neck. His black hair is styled into a mullet. The man looks past the camera to the left. A mixture of trees and sky are visible in the background.
Bono on stage in 1983

The band went by the name "Feedback" for a few months, before changing to "The Hype" later on. After Dik Evans left the group to join another local band, the Virgin Prunes, the remaining four officially changed the name from "The Hype" to "U2". Initially Bono sang, played guitar and wrote the band's songs. He said of his early guitar playing in a 1982 interview, "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.'"[34] When The Edge's guitar playing improved, Bono was relegated mostly to the microphone, although he occasionally still plays rhythm guitar and harmonica. As of 2006, Bono has taken piano lessons from his children's piano teacher as a means to improve his songwriting.[35]

On 13 July 1985, U2 performed at the Live Aid benefit concert at Wembley Stadium before a crowd of 72,000 fans and a worldwide television audience of 1.5 billion people.[36][37] During a 12-minute performance of "Bad", Bono climbed down from the stage to embrace and dance with a female fan he had picked out of the crowd,[36] showing television viewers the personal connection that he could make with audiences.[38] Bono's impromptu departure from the stage extended the length of "Bad", cutting into their allotted time and forcing them to drop "Pride (In the Name of Love)", their biggest hit at the time, from their setlist. The group initially regarded the concert as a missed opportunity,[36] but many journalists called their performance one of the show's highlights;[37] The Guardian cited Live Aid as the event that made stars of U2 and their performance as one of 50 key events in rock history.[39]

Bono (right) with Sting during A Conspiracy of Hope in 1986

Bono writes the lyrics for almost all U2 songs, which often have social and political themes.[4] His lyrics frequently allude to a religious connection or meaning, evident in songs such as "Gloria" from the band's album October and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" from The Joshua Tree.[5] During the band's early years, Bono was known for his rebellious tone which turned to political anger and rage during the band's War, The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum eras.[4] Following the Enniskillen bombing that left 11 dead and 63 injured on 8 November 1987, the Provisional IRA paramilitaries threatened to kidnap Bono.[2] IRA supporters also attacked a vehicle carrying the band members.[2] These acts were in response to his speech condemning the Enniskillen bombing during a live performance of "Sunday Bloody Sunday".[2] The singer had been advised to cut his on-stage outburst from the Rattle and Hum film, but it was left in.[40] The film also contains footage of the band's 11 November 1987 free "Save the Yuppies" concert at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, during which Bono spray-painted "Rock N Roll Stops the Traffic" on the Vaillancourt Fountain sculpture. Bono was criticised by Mayor Dianne Feinstein and faced a misdemeanor for defacing public property. He apologised in a written statement to local officials, and the band's promoter Bill Graham agreed to pay to clean up the graffiti.[41]

Bono as his alter-ego "The Fly" on the Zoo TV Tour in 1992

U2's sound and focus dramatically changed with their 1991 album, Achtung Baby. Bono's lyrics became more personal, inspired by experiences related to the private lives of the members of the band.[2][4] During the band's 1992–1993 Zoo TV Tour, Bono assumed a number of costumed stage personae in an attempt to be more facetious and escape the group's reputation of being overly serious and self-righteous.[42] Bono said: "All through the Eighties we tried to be ourselves and failed when the lights were on. Which is what set us up for Zoo TV. We decided to have some fun being other people, or at least other versions of ourselves."[43] Bono's primary persona during the tour was "the Fly", which originated from him wearing an oversized pair of blaxploitation sunglasses, given to him by wardrobe manager Fintan Fitzgerald, to lighten the mood in the studio.[44][45] He developed the persona into a leather-clad egomaniac, and described his outfit as having Lou Reed's glasses, Elvis Presley's jacket, and Jim Morrison's leather trousers.[46] To match the character's dark fashion, Bono dyed his naturally-brown hair black.[47] In contrast to his earnest stage demeanour of the 1980s, as the Fly, Bono strutted around the stage with "swagger and style", exhibiting mannerisms of an egotistical rock star.[48] He often stayed in character as the Fly away from the stage, including for public appearances and when staying in hotels.[49]

For his "Mirror Ball Man" stage character, Bono dressed in a shining silver lamé suit with matching shoes and cowboy hat.[50] The character was meant to parody greedy American televangelists, showmen, and car salesman, and was inspired by Phil Ochs' Elvis persona from his 1970 tour.[51] Bono said that the character represented "a kind of showman America. He had the confidence and charm to pick up a mirror and look at himself and give the glass a big kiss. He loved cash and in his mind success was God's blessing."[52] Mirror Ball Man appeared during encores of concerts in 1992 and made prank calls from the stage, often to the White House in an attempt to reach U.S. President George H. W. Bush.[50] Bono portrayed this alter ego on the first three legs of the tour, but replaced him with "MacPhisto" in 1993.[53] MacPhisto was created to parody the devil and was named after Mephistopheles of the Faust legend.[53] As MacPhisto, Bono wore a gold lamé suit with gold platform shoes, pale makeup, lipstick, and devil's horns on his head.[54] As the character, Bono spoke with an exaggerated upper-class English accent, similar to that of a down-on-his-luck character actor.[53] According to him, "We came up with a sort of old English Devil, a pop star long past his prime returning regularly from sessions on The Strip in Vegas and regaling anyone who would listen to him at cocktail hour with stories from the good old, bad old days."[55] As MacPhisto, Bono continued his routine of making in-concert prank calls, targeting local politicians and mocking them by engaging them in character as the devil;[56] he said, "When you're dressed as the Devil, your conversation is immediately loaded, so if you tell somebody you really like what they're doing, you know it's not a compliment."[55]

During performances, Bono attempts to interact with the crowd as often as possible. He is known for pulling audience members onto the stage or moving himself down to the physical level of the audience.[2] At the Live Aid concert in 1985, Bono leapt off the stage and pulled a woman from the crowd to dance with her as the band played "Bad". In 2005, during U2's Vertigo Tour stop in Chicago, he pulled a boy onto the stage during the song "An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart".[2][57] Bono has often allowed fans to come on stage and perform songs with the band.

While accepting the 2003 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for "The Hands That Built America", Bono called the award "really, really fucking brilliant!" during the live television broadcast.[58] In response, the Parents Television Council condemned Bono for his profanity and started a campaign for its members to file complaints with the FCC.[59] Although Bono's use of "fuck" violated FCC indecency standards, the FCC refused to fine NBC because the network did not receive advance notice of the consequences of broadcasting such profanity and the profanity in question was not used in its literal sexual meaning.[60] In apparent reaction to the refusal,[61] a group of congressmen introduced House Resolution 3687, the "Clean Airwaves Act",[62] on 8 December 2003,[63] aiming to amend section 1464 of title 18 of the United States Code to provide an explicit list of profane words and phrases and remove ambiguity that could enable certain uses of the phrases to be allowed.[64] The bill was not enacted.[63] The incident has had a long-term impact in the handling of profanity on live broadcasts.[62]

U2 performing at Madison Square Garden in November 2005

U2 were criticised in 2007 for moving part of their multimillion-euro song catalogue from Ireland to Amsterdam six months before Ireland ended a tax exemption on musicians' royalties.[11][65] Under Dutch tax law, bands are subject to low to non-existent tax rates.[11] U2 manager Paul McGuinness stated that the arrangement was legal and customary and businesses often sought to minimise their tax burdens.[11] The move prompted criticisms in the Irish parliament.[66][67] The band later responded by stating that approximately 95% of their business took place outside Ireland, and that they were taxed globally because of this.[68] Bono was one of several wealthy figures whose tax arrangements were singled out for criticism in a report by the charity Christian Aid in 2008.[69]


In addition to his work with U2, Bono has collaborated with Frank Sinatra,[14] Johnny Cash,[15] Willie Nelson,[70] Luciano Pavarotti,[71] Sinéad O'Connor,[72] Green Day, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison,[73] Bob Dylan,[16] Patti Smith, Tina Turner,[74] B.B. King and Zucchero.[75][76][77] He has recorded with Ray Charles,[78] Quincy Jones, Kirk Franklin,[79] Bruce Springsteen,[80] Tony Bennett,[81] Clannad,[82] The Corrs,[83] Wyclef Jean,[84] Kylie Minogue,[85] Carl Perkins,[86] and Herbert Grönemeyer.[87] On Robbie Robertson's 1987 eponymous album, he played bass guitar and sang.[88] For Michael Hutchence's 1999 posthumous eponymous album, Bono and producer Andy Gill completed the unfinished song "Slide Away" by writing an additional verse and recording vocals by Bono.[89] In 2015, he collaborated with African stars D'banj, Waje and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde for a women's empowerment song entitled "Strong Girl".[90]

Bono and the Edge have written and recorded several songs together outside of U2. They wrote the musical score for the Royal Shakespeare Company's London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which opened in 1990. The duo also wrote the eponymous theme song of the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, which was performed by Tina Turner. Bono and the Edge ventured into theatre again when they composed the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark;[91] they were featured on the soundtrack's single "Rise Above 1" with Reeve Carney in 2011.[92][93] The duo collaborated with Jay-Z and Rihanna for the 2010 song "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)", which benefitted the Hope for Haiti Now relief telethon for the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[94] Bono and the Edge featured on the song "We Are the People" by Dutch DJ Martin Garrix, which serves as the official song of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament and was released on 14 May 2021.[95]

On 17 March 2020, Bono performed a new song, "Let Your Love Be Known", via livestream to fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.[96] On 24 March, the song was released on YouTube,[97] retitled "#SING4LIFE", as a collaboration with, Jennifer Hudson, and Yoshiki.[98]

Musical style


Bono performing in Amsterdam in July 2017

Bono is known for his impassioned vocal style, often delivered in a high register through open-throated belting.[99][100][101][102] Bono has been classified as a tenor,[103][104] and according to him has a three-octave vocal range;[105] one analysis found it to span from C2 to G5 on studio recordings over the course of his career.[106] He frequently employs "whoa-oh-oh" vocalisations in his singing.[107] Rock musician Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day said: "He's a physical singer, like the leader of a gospel choir, and he gets lost in the melodic moment. He goes to a place outside himself, especially in front of an audience, when he hits those high notes." He added that Bono is "not afraid to go beyond what he's capable of".[108]

In the early days of U2, Bono unintentionally developed an English vocal accent as a result of him mimicking his musical influences such as Siouxsie and the Banshees.[109] His vocal style evolved during the band's exploration of roots music for The Joshua Tree; Spin said that he learned to command "the full whisper-to-shout range of blues mannerisms".[110] Bono attributed this maturation to "loosening up", "discover[ing] other voices", and employing more restraint in his singing.[111] For "Where the Streets Have No Name", Bono varied the timbre of his voice extensively and used rubato to vary its timing,[112] while author Susan Fast found "With or Without You" to be the first track on which he "extended his vocal range downward in an appreciable way".[113]

Bono continued to explore a lower range in the 1990s, using what Fast described as "breathy and subdued colors" for Achtung Baby.[114] One technique used on the album is octave doubling, in which his vocals are sung in two different octaves, either simultaneously or alternating between verses and choruses. According to Fast, this technique introduces "a contrasting lyrical idea and vocal character to deliver it", leading to both literal and ironic interpretations of Bono's vocals.[115] On tracks such as "Zoo Station" and "The Fly", his vocals were highly processed,[103][116][117] giving them a different emotional feel from his previous work.[118] Bono said that lowering his voice helped him find a new vocal vocabulary, which he felt was limited to "certain words and tones" by his tenor voice.[119] His singing on Zooropa was an ever further departure from U2's previous style; throughout the record, Bono "underplay[ed] his lung power", according to Jon Pareles,[120] and he also used an operatic falsetto he calls the "Fat Lady" voice on the tracks "Lemon" and "Numb".[55][121]

Activism and philanthropy

Bono with then-President Lula da Silva of Brazil in 2006

Bono has been involved in philanthropy and activism for human rights and social justice causes, both as a member of U2 and as an individual. He explained that he was motivated to become involved in social and political causes by seeing one of the Secret Policeman's Ball benefit shows, staged by Monty Python member John Cleese and producer Martin Lewis for the human-rights organisation Amnesty International in 1979.[122] Bono stated, "I saw The Secret Policeman's Ball and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed...".[123]

In 1984, musician Bob Geldof enlisted Bono to participate in the Band Aid charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?";[124] Bono reprised his singing role for the 2004 Band Aid 20 and 2014 Band Aid 30 singles of the same name. In July 1985, U2 performed at the Live Aid charity concert, which was organised by Geldof to benefit the Ethiopian famine;[125] he and Bono later collaborated to organise the 20th anniversary Live 8 concerts in 2005, at which U2 also performed.[8]

From September to October 1985, Bono and his wife Ali Hewson made a humanitarian visit to Africa, spending a month working at a feeding center in Ajibar, Ethiopia.[126] Along with other volunteers, they developed an educational programme consisting of songs and one-act plays to teach Ethiopian children important information about issues such as health and hygiene.[127] During the trip, he also became aware of the corruption, trade agreements, and debts that were all claimed to be contributing factors to the famine and poverty in Africa.[127] The trip was cited as fueling Bono's passion for African issues that would come to characterise his future philanthropic and activist efforts.[126][127]

In 1986, Bono and U2 performed on Amnesty International's Conspiracy of Hope Tour of benefit concerts in the United States,[7] alongside musicians such as Sting and Bryan Adams.

Bono and then-U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006

Since 1999, Bono has become increasingly involved with raising awareness of the plight of Africa and campaigning on its behalf. From 1999–2000, Bono was involved with the Jubilee 2000 coalition, working as an activist on its Drop the Debt campaign. He met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and with U.S. Republican politicians such as Jesse Helms, John Kasich, Orrin Hatch, J. Dennis Hastert, and Dick Armey in an effort to secure bipartisan support for the U.S. forgiving the debt of developing countries.[128] He has met with several influential politicians, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.[129] During a March 2002 visit to the White House, Bono lobbied Bush to provide financial assistance to developing countries.[129][130] The following year, Bush signed legislation authorising the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program,[131] which has been credited with saving 17 million lives over its lifetime.[132] Bush told Bono that the initiative "never would have made it out of Congress had [Bono] not been engaged".[133]

The advocacy non-government organisation (NGO) DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) was established in 2002 by Bono and Bobby Shriver, along with activists from Drop the Debt.[134] The organisation was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros, and Edward W. Scott.[135] In 2004, Bono and Shriver co-founded the One Campaign, with the aim of eliminating extreme poverty and disease in Africa by building citizen support.[136][137] The organisation received a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[138] In 2006, Bono and Shriver collaborated again to found (Red), an organization that licenses the Product Red brand to partner companies to raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Each company creates a product with the Product Red logo, and a percentage of the profits from the sale of these labelled products benefit the Global Fund.[139] Partner companies include American Express, Apple, Converse, Motorola, Microsoft, Dell, The Gap, Giorgio Armani,[140][141] Nike, and Starbucks; Bono was involved with securing most of Red's corporate partners.[142] In October 2007, it was announced that DATA and One Campaign would merge in the United States and that the new organization would be known simply as One.[136] Red currently operates as a sister organisation of One.[137] As of December 2018, One has 10 million members, 3 million of whom are in Africa.[137] As of December 2020, Red has generated $650 million to support HIV/AIDS grants.[143]

In 2005, Bono recorded a version of "Don't Give Up" with Alicia Keys, with proceeds going to Keep a Child Alive.[144]

Bono at the 2008 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos

Bono has spoken at numerous events on behalf of his activist efforts. He spoke at the 54th Annual National Prayer Breakfast on 2 February 2006, encouraging the care of the socially and economically depressed and calling for an extra one percent tithe of the United States' national budget.[6] He has made multiple appearances at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.[145][146][147][148]

Bono at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

Bono was a special guest editor of the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, named "The Africa Issue: Politics & Power". It featured an assortment of 20 different covers, with photographs by Annie Leibovitz of a number of celebrities, political leaders, and philanthropists, each showcasing their contributions to the humanitarian relief in Africa.[149]

In 2021, Bono lent his voice to One's animated series Pandemica, which was created to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities in worldwide vaccine availability.[150]

Efficacy and analysis

Bono meeting with US President Barack Obama in 2010

Bono has become one of the world's best-known philanthropic performers and was named the most politically effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal.[151][152][153] He has been dubbed "the face of fusion philanthropy",[154] both for his success enlisting powerful allies from a diverse spectrum of leaders in government, religious institutions, philanthropic organisations, popular media, and the business world, as well as for spearheading new organizational networks that bind global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise.[13]

On 15 December 2005, Paul Theroux published an op-ed in The New York Times called "The Rock Star's Burden" (cf. Kipling's "The White Man's Burden") that criticised stars such as Bono, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, labelling them as "mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth." Theroux, who lived in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, added that "the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help—not to mention celebrities and charity concerts—is a destructive and misleading conceit."[155]

In February 2006, Bono responded to his critics by calling them "cranks carping from the sidelines. A lot of them wouldn't know what to do if they were on the field. They're the party who will always be in opposition so they'll never have to take responsibility for decisions because they know they'll never be able to implement them."[156]

In an article in Bloomberg Markets in March 2007, journalists Richard Tomlinson and Fergal O'Brien noted that Bono used his band's 2006 Vertigo world tour to promote his ONE Campaign while at the same time "U2 was racking up $389 million in gross ticket receipts, making Vertigo the second-most lucrative tour of all time, according to Billboard magazine ... Revenue from the Vertigo tour is funnelled through companies that are mostly registered in Ireland and structured to minimise taxes."[157]

Further criticism came in November 2007, when Bono's various charity campaigns were targeted by Jobs Selasie, head of African Aid Action. Selasie claimed that these charities had increased corruption and dependency in Africa because they failed to work with African entrepreneurs and grassroots organisations, and as a result, Africa has become more dependent on international handouts.[158]

Film career

Bono was an executive producer of the 2000 film The Million Dollar Hotel, which was developed from a story by him and Nicholas Klein. It starred Jeremy Davies, Milla Jovovich, and Mel Gibson.[159]

In the 2007 musical film Across the Universe, Bono made a cameo during a psychedelic sequence, portraying the character "Dr. Robert" and singing the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus".[160]

Bono will voice a character in the 2021 animated musical film Sing 2, the lion rock legend Clay Calloway.[161]

Business ventures

Bono performing with U2 in 2011

In 1992, Bono, along with the Edge, bought and refurbished Dublin's two-star 70-bedroom Clarence Hotel, and converted it into a five-star 49-bedroom hotel.[19]

In 2005, Bono, Ali Hewson, and designer Rogan Gregory co-founded the EDUN fashion label ("nude" spelled backwards, to suggest both "natural" and the Garden of Eden).[162] It was intended to help bring about positive change in Africa through a fair trade-based relationship rather than by direct aid.[163][164]

Bono was a board member of the Elevation Partners private-equity firm, which attempted to purchase Eidos Interactive in 2005 and subsequently invested in other entertainment businesses.[18][165] Bono was an investor in the Forbes Media group in the U.S. through Elevation Partners; his firm took a minority stake in Forbes Media, which encompassed the 89-year-old business that includes Forbes magazine, the website, and other assets. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports said the stake was worth about €194 million ($250 million).[166][167][168] Elevation Partners also owned a 1.5 percent stake in social networking site Facebook, originally purchased for $210 million.[17] Although it was reported that Bono's stake was valued at approximately US$1 billion in February 2012,[169][170] a 2015 article in Forbes stated that this estimate was based on an incorrect attribution of shares.[171]

In 2016, Bono invested in and joined the board of directors of the "Rise Fund", a new $2 billion impact investment fund founded by TPG.[172] Rise's investments fell across seven sectors, including agriculture, education, and healthcare, and were made into companies making "a measurable positive social and/or environmental impact".[173] In 2019, Bono and TPG announced the creation of Y Analytics, a company intended to measure the social and environmental impacts of investments.[174]

Bono was among those named in the 2017 Paradise Papers after he was identified as an investor in Nude Estates, which bought a shopping mall in Lithuania in 2007 and transferred ownership to Nude Estates 1 in Guernsey, in an apparent attempt to avoid tax. Bono welcomed the subsequent investigation by the Lithuanian tax authority, saying that transparency was necessary and he had personally campaigned for it.[175] Nude Estates paid €53,000 in taxes and fines after the investigation was completed and Bono severed ties with the company.[176]

In September 2019, it was announced that Bono joined the board of directors of Zipline.[177]

Awards and recognition

Bono has won numerous awards with U2, including 22 Grammy Awards[10] and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song (for "The Hands That Built America" in 2003 and "Ordinary Love" in 2014).[178][179] In 2005, Bono was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of U2, in the group's first year of eligibility.[180] In November 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Bono the 32nd-greatest singer of all time,[108] while Consequence of Sound also ranked him 32nd on its 2016 list.[181] In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Bono and the Edge at number 35 on its list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.[182]

In 2003, Bono received the Legion of Honour from the French government,[183] and the following year he was awarded the Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honour from the Government of Chile.[184] Time named Bono one of the "100 Most Influential People" in its May 2004 special issue[185] and again in the 2006 Time 100 special issue.[186] In 2005, the magazine named him, Bill and Melinda Gates the Persons of the Year.[13] Also in 2005, he received the Portuguese Order of Liberty for his humanitarian work.[187] That year Bono was also among the first three recipients of the TED Prize, which grants each winner a "wish to change the world".[188] Bono made three wishes,[189] the first two related to the One Campaign and the third that every hospital, health clinic, and school in Ethiopia could be connected to the Internet. TED rejected the third wish as being a sub-optimal way for TED to help Africa[189] and instead organised a TED conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Bono attended the conference, which was held in June 2007.

In 2007, Bono received several honours. At the 38th NAACP Image Awards, he won the Chairman's Award.[190] He was named in the UK's New Years Honours List as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[12][191] He was formally granted knighthood on 29 March in a ceremony at the residence of British Ambassador David Reddaway in Dublin, Ireland.[192] On 27 September, Bono and DATA received the Philadelphia Liberty Medal for their humanitarian efforts. While accepting the honour, Bono said, "When you are trapped by poverty, you are not free. When trade laws prevent you from selling the food you grew, you are not free." Bono donated the $100,000 prize to DATA; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala accepted the prize on the organisation's behalf.[193]

On 11 December 2008, Bono received the annual Man of Peace prize, which is awarded by several Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Paris, France.[194]

Time ranked Bono 8th on its list of the "Most Influential Celebrities" in 2013; he was the only person from the music industry in the Top 10.[195] In July 2013, he was honoured by the French government as a Commandeur de Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the country's highest cultural honour.[183]

In 2016, Glamour named him "Man of the Year", breaking the 26-year tradition that saw the "Woman of the Year" accolade reserved only for women. Bono was recognized for establishing a campaign called "Poverty is Sexist," which is "specifically aimed at helping the world's poorest women".[196] In 2018, he was the first recipient of the George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership, which was awarded by Bush's Presidential Center; the honour was in recognition of Bono's humanitarian work against poverty and HIV/AIDS.[197]

Personal life

Bono (second from right) and his wife, Ali Hewson (second from left), with President Obama at Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa, December 2013

Bono is married to activist and businesswoman Alison Hewson (née Stewart).[3] The couple have four children: daughters Jordan (born 10 May 1989) and Eve (born 7 July 1991) and sons Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q (born 17 August 1999) and John Abraham (born 20 May 2001).[198] Elijah is lead guitarist and vocalist in the rock band Inhaler.[199]

Bono was a close friend to INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.[200]

"Spending time with Bono was like eating dinner on a train—feels like you're moving, going somewhere. Bono's got the soul of an ancient poet and you have to be careful around him. He can roar 'till the earth shakes. He's also a closet philosopher...talks about the rightness, the richness, glory, beauty, wonder and magnificence of America."

Bob Dylan, 2005[201]

In the late 1980s or early 1990s, Bono bought a top-floor duplex apartment in Manhattan's San Remo apartment building from Steve Jobs for $15 million. Jobs had renovated it for his own use, but never moved in.[202] In 2004, Bono was given an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania.[203]

With regard to Bono's 2013 declarations in interviews published and videotaped of his faith in Jesus Christ,[204] he stated that Christ was either who he said he was, or he is "a complete and utter nutcase".[205] As early as 2005, Bono was invoking this argument,[206][207] identified as the "Lewis trilemma".


Bono is almost never seen in public without sunglasses, as he suffers from glaucoma.[208] During a Rolling Stone interview, he stated:

[I have] very sensitive eyes to light. If somebody takes my photograph, I will see the flash for the rest of the day. My right eye swells up. I've a blockage there, so that my eyes go red a lot. So it's part vanity, it's part privacy and part sensitivity.[209]

In May 2010, Bono suffered a spinal injury while preparing for a U2 tour, and was taken to a German clinic in Munich for emergency neurosurgery.[210][211] The North American leg of the tour was postponed and rescheduled for 2011.[212][213]

On 16 November 2014, Bono was involved in a "high energy bicycle accident" when he attempted to avoid another rider. Bono was rushed to NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center's Emergency Department and underwent "multiple X-rays and CAT scans" followed by five hours of surgery. Bono suffered fractures of the shoulder blade, humerus, orbit and pinky finger. Orthopedic trauma surgeon Dean Lorich, MD, stated that "[Bono] was taken urgently to the operating room... where the elbow was washed out and debrided, a nerve trapped in the break was moved and the bone was repaired with three metal plates and 18 screws."[214][215] Bono posted to U2's official website, "As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again," as reported in Cycling Weekly.[216][217]

In 2016, during the recording sessions for U2's album Songs of Experience, Bono had what the Edge called a "brush with mortality".[218] The Irish Times reported that sometime in late 2016 between Christmas and New Year's Day, Bono had a near-death experience.[219] Other than clarifying that it was a physical health scare, he declined to elaborate any further on what happened.[220] As a result of the episode, he decided to rework the album's lyrics.[218]


Year Film Role Notes
1988 Rattle and Hum Himself Rockumentary
1998 The Simpsons Himself TV series; one episode, "Trash of the Titans"
1999 Classic Albums Himself TV series; one episode, "The Joshua Tree"
Entropy Himself
2000 The Million Dollar Hotel Man in the hotel lobby Uncredited cameo appearance, original storywriter, producer
Sightings of Bono Himself Short film
2005 Entourage Himself TV series; one episode, "I Love You Too"
2007 Rewind Himself Rockumentary
Across The Universe Dr. Robert Sang the Beatles songs "I Am the Walrus" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
American Idol Himself TV series; "Idol Gives Back"
2008 U2 3D Himself 3D concert film
2009 Entourage Himself TV series; one episode, "Give a Little Bit"
Brüno Himself Mockumentary comedy film
2011 From the Sky Down Himself Rockumentary
Anton Corbijn Inside Out Himself
2012 B.B. King – The Life of Riley Himself Documentary
The Resurrection of Victor Jara Himself Documentary
2013 Arcade Fire in Here Comes The Night Time Win Butler impersonator NBC Special
Who the F**K Is Arthur Fogel Himself Documentary
Muscle Shoals Himself Documentary
2017 Lost in London Himself Voice cameo
2021 Sing 2 Clay Calloway Voice role

In addition to his acting credits, Bono has contributed music to films, as part of U2 and other collaborations.


See also


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