AKA Paul David Hewson
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Lead singer of U2
The second of two boys born into a combined Catholic/Protestant Irish househould, Paul Hewson spent his childhood in North Dublin, developing his talents as a argumentative pain-in-the-ass long before music became an interest. While a member of a neighborhood gang called Lypton Village he was given the name Bono Vox -- apparently derived by one of his friends from a brand of hearing aid sold in a local shop. A generally popular individual at school, Bono suffered the first major trauma of his life at the age of 14, when his mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm while attending her own father's funeral. This experience later helped to create a bond between himself and future bandmate Larry Mullen, who experienced a similar loss. It was during his high school years that Bono's interest in music and performance came to the fore, and he began developing his vocal and guitar-playing skills, in addition to participating in his school's theater program.
The transition from aspiring thespian to serious performer was brought about in 1976 by an ad on the school bulletin board. Mullen had posted an open invitation to anyone interested in forming a rock group. Other respondants to the ad were brothers Dik and Dave Evans (the latter referred to as The Edge), neophyte bassist Adam Clayton and guitarist Ivan McCormick. The six initially formed a covers band named Feedback, specializing in numbers by British Invasion acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. This eventually evolved into a new band called The Hype (not to be confused with similarly-named the David Bowie/Tony Visconti project from the early 70s). In mid-1977 Dik Evans departed and became part of The Virgin Prunes, a heavily theatrical group that included several other former Lypton Village kids; with McCormick already jettisoned, the remaining four subsequently became U2. This new configuration finally began to attract some industry attention after winning a Guinness-organized talent contest, and by the end of 1978 (their last year of high school) manager Paul McGuinness (no relation) was directing their careers.
The early years of the band were not particularly successful, and despite Bono's enthusiastic involvement there was a point when the other members considered replacing him due to the unpolished quality of his singing and guitar-playing. His stage presence could not be overlooked, however, and as the Edge's abilities improved, the need for additional guitar was removed, while constant practice made the concerns about his voice less urgent. U2's debut release, the three track EP U2 Three, finally surfaced as an Ireland-only release towards the end of 1979, propelling them to the top of the national charts. Interest beyond their native borders continued to be elusive until the single Another Day (1980), which attracted the attention of corporate label Island Records and led to the release of their first full-length, Boy, later in the year. Critical response was largely enthusiastic, and the band supported the album with their first tour outside of the British Isles.
From the beginning, Bono and his bandmates made no secret of their Christian religious leanings, or their opinions on various social issues (although the former did not have the support of Mullen). This aspect of the band was given particular prominence on their third album War (1983) and its singles New Year's Day and Sunday Bloody Sunday. It was this album -- and New Year's Day in particular -- that broke U2 to an international audience, finally positioning them on the charts in both the UK and the US. This popularity continued to grow with each new album: first pushing them higher up the international charts with The Unforgettable Fire (1984) and then ultimately insinuating them at the top with The Joshua Tree (1987). It was during this period that Bono's status as one of the leading "social-consciousness celebrities" (alongside performers such as Bob Geldof, Phil Collins and Sting) was established, in part due to his participation in the Geldof-organized Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas? and the full band's involvement in the subsequent Live Aid event in 1985. A headlining role on the following year's Conspiracy of Hope tour in benefit of Amnesty International further consolidated this reputation.
In the 1990s U2 made a deliberate attempt to shed their overly-serious public image and, leaving much of their anthem-styled early output behind, began experimenting with contemporary musical styles. Live events became ridiculously elaborate traveling technology displays, with Bono providing the focus to the proceedings with extravagant theatrics and a variety of different characters. This approach was first fully indulged during the Zoo TV tour of 1992, which incorporated countless video monitors and multiple live satellite connections (one of which the singer used for repeated attempts to contact then-president George H.W. Bush at the White House). The Brian Eno-directed experiments of Achtung Baby (1991) led to the techno/electronica embellishments of Zooropa (1993), followed by the abstractions of the Passengers side project in 1995. This last project alienated some fans and critics, as did the gloomy techno/rock fusion of 1997's Pop; the band itself did not entirely disagree with this assessment, and therefore a return to their more straightforward, pre-Achtung sound was made on the next two albums, All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004).
Since U2's rise to international fame in the mid-80s, Bono has maintained a public profile above and beyond the context of the band, making use of his fame to draw attention to various political and social issues (and, it could well be argued, vice-versa). Subsequent to his involvement with Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the various Band Aid-related projects, the primary focus of his efforts in the 00s has been to secure debt relief for Africa and other impoverished countries, and work with organizations such as NetAid and DATA -- as well as public appearances with numerous world leaders -- has been undertaken towards this end. His creative activities have also extended beyond his role in U2, with performers including Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Keith Richards and Sinead O'Connor enlisting his skills as a songwriter. Other projects include the screenplay for the Wim Wenders-directed film The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) and the socially-conscious clothing line Edun.
Father: Brendan Robert Hewson (d. 21-Aug-2001)
Mother: Iris Rankin Hewson (d. 1974)
Wife: Alison Stewart ("Ali", m. 21-Aug-1982)
Daughter: Jordan (b. 1989)
Daughter: Memphis Eve (b. 1991)
Son: Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q (b. Aug-1999)
Son: John Abraham Hewson (b. 21-May-2001)
High School: Mount Temple Comprehensive School, Dublin, Ireland
U2 Vocalist (1977-present)
Passengers Vocalist/Multi-instrumentalist (1995)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2005
Time Person of the Year 2005, with Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
Malicious Mischief Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA (11-Nov-1987)
Surgery back injury, Munich, Germany (21-May-2010)
Surgery (multiple) injuries from bike accident (16-Nov-2014, 17-Nov-2014)
Funeral: Tom Lantos (2008)
Wedding: Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek (2009)
Funeral: Steve Jobs (2011)
Funeral: Nelson Mandela (2013)
Endorsement of LVMH 2010
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Muscle Shoals (26-Jan-2013) · Himself
Anton Corbijn Inside Out (Feb-2012)
Brüno (25-Jun-2009) · Himself
Across the Universe (10-Sep-2007)
U2 3D (19-May-2007)
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (20-Jan-2007) · Himself
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (11-Sep-2005) · Himself
Bukowski: Born into This (18-Jan-2003) · Himself
U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle (Nov-2002)
U2: Elevation 2001 Live From Boston (20-Nov-2001) · Himself
America: A Tribute to Heroes (21-Sep-2001) · Himself
No Maps for These Territories (4-Oct-2000) · Himself
Entropy (15-Apr-1999) · Himself
U2: PopMart Live from Mexico City (3-Dec-1997)
U2: Rattle and Hum (27-Oct-1988) · Himself
Live Aid (13-Jul-1985) · Himself
U2: Under a Blood Red Sky (Nov-1983) · Himself
Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile
Copyright ©2014 Soylent Communications