Bono - Paul Hewson

Bono (L) and US actor and director Sean Penn, holding a cigarette, pose as they arrive for the screening of Australian director Alison Thomson's film 'Third Wave' at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 16, 2008 in Cannes, southern France. The May 14-25 festival winds up with the awards ceremony for the prestigious Palme d'Or, to be determined by a jury headed by Penn.



Will the real Paul Hewson stand up - 23rd December 2010

Most folks know the U2 frontman as Bono, but a growing number of politicians the world over know him as Paul Hewson, quite a pain in the rear end for many.

Bono by all accounts is the person many of us would like to be, but we're not quite as vocally and musically talented as the man.

Down under here in Sydney where Bono and the band recently wowed em, one or two Australian politicians have appeared to raise the ire of the Irish bred chosen one.

Cafes and watercooler across our great national are abuzz who Bono gave the finger to. Was is for the usual suspects - the paparazzi, or was it a message he choose to convey via news media and "people power" to one or two Australian politicians who are severely out of favor (and chances) with the Australian public. I don't know about you, but I strongly suspect that it was Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd that asked for a face to face with Bono, not the other way around. Didn't anyone warn Bono of Rudd's very public falling off a high pedestal known as Aussie P.M, less than six months ago. Maybe the muso felt comparison for Rudd, given that he pretty much politically butchered within an inch of his life by his own team.

Over the years U2 has enjoyed quite the love - hate relationship with the media, with Rolling Stone Magazine generally being very good to the group, and only a couple of days ago Bono got his own article published in the Rupert Murdoch owned Aussie newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, penning 'When love comes to town: An Australian Romance'.

It's worth noting that Bono has previously gone on record (with Rolling Stone Magazine we understand) "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 privy and part sensitivity". Bono is also quite sensitive to people in public office who spin yarns to the the people they are supposed to be serving.

It's widely understood that Bono coined the phrase "the currency of celebrity", and Bono looks to be cashing in, and why the heck not.

What do we find so appealing about this rock god come humanitarian? Ok, there's the obvious - his genius song writing and performing, but over the years he's been rapidly building his fan base for his off stage performances, sometimes telling 'Big Brother' polies where to go, with a certain amount of diplomacy. God, you would have liked to be a fly on the wall when he's enjoyed his friendly chats with the likes of George W and more recently, K Rudd (shown to be condescending to the B-man, no less). Ruddy, those Wikipedia wires gave a behavior analysis account of you (as well as those of a pandora's box of other polies the world over). "Water off a ducks back" hey. Who was the goose that failed to deliver golden eggs and a left a swag of broken promises.

One of Bono's pet hates is the tendency of diplomats and supposed "world leaders" and "super powers" to continually bend and break promises, and sometimes outright lie to the people.

Let's take a look at some of U2's songs and in particular some lyrics, to see what tree Bono is barking up....and note the strong political, religious and social themes...

Classic number "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" resonates for many of us. Why, because we can relate, and he shouts it out on a world stage - what many of us feel. Maybe Julian Assange's Wikileaks might help him just a tad to find what it is that he's actually looking for, but rest assured its not a new band or mic. He's been blessed from above and clearly knows it.

'Sunday Bloody Sunday' is rated by critics as one of the greatest political songs of all time.

Drummer Mullen said of the song in 1983: "We're into the politics of people, we're not into politics. Like you talk about Northern Ireland, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday,' people sort of think, 'Oh, that time when 13 Catholics were shot by British soldiers'; that's not what the song is about. That's an incident, the most famous incident in Northern Ireland and it's the strongest way of saying, 'How long? How long do we have to put up with this?' I don't care who's who - Catholics, Protestants, whatever. You know people are dying every single day through bitterness and hate, and we're saying why? What's the point? And you can move that into places like El Salvador and other similar situations - people dying. Let's forget the politics, let's stop shooting each other and sit around the table and talk about it... There are a lot of bands taking sides saying politics is crap, etc. Well, so what! The real battle is people dying, that's the real battle." In a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bono 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 John Cleese and producer Martin Lewis for the human-rights organisation Amnesty International in 1979. "I saw 'The Secret Policeman’s Ball' and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed..." In 2001, Bono arranged for U2 to videotape a special live performance for that year's Amnesty benefit show. Bono and U2 performed on Amnesty's Conspiracy Of Hope tour of the United States in 1986 alongside Sting. U2 also performed in the Band Aid and Live Aid projects, organised by Bob Geldof. In 1984, Bono sang on the Band Aid single "Do They Know it's Christmas? - Feed the World" (a role that was reprised on the 2004 Band Aid 20 single of the same name). Bono later went on to say that it was one of the worse Christmas songs ever. Geldof and Bono later collaborated to organise the 2005 Live 8 project, where U2 also performed, once again making history and redefining the impact of performing artists.

U2's people power concerts and mega happenings frequently go beyond the normal realm of what a performance is all about. The man becomes one with the music.

I recently learned that Bono helped support and promote the humanitarian efforts of noted Australian aid worker and ex military man, Donny Paterson - part of the inner circle of our friends at the Media Man agency. I was pleased to hear this, but not surprised, as the agency tends to surround themselves with some absolute gems of people. Trust them to find their own Aussie version of Bono ...ok, he doesn't sing as good as Paul, but he works just as hard, if not harder, and you must check out a doco that features Paterson and friends 'The Third Wave', in its raw and honest account of what happens when a tsunami wipes out a country already in ruins.

One feels that Bono has been jaded somewhat by the media and "celeb thing" over the years, but a number of his quotes always reassure us that he still has time for good people and worthy causes. If you even need a bit of a pick me up, check out and remind yourself of gems like "Music can change the world because it can change people" and "My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them", "the less you know, the more you believe" and on the all important subject of human rights - "So what we're talking about here is human rights. The right to live like a human. The right to live, period. And what we're facing in Africa is an unprecedented threat to human dignity and equality".

Some comparisons can be made, or rather more to the point, could previously be made to Australian Minister For The Arts and former frontman for Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett. On the wild arm flinging and pen pushing one, Bono said of him "his moral compass was setting a course even back then" (circa 1980s). Both gents had power, passion and wisdom, but in recent years many Aussies feel that Garrett got distracted, if not sabotaged, upon joining the ALP. A stint in the ALP will do a person). We can perhaps only hope that Bono doesn't become a MP in the Irish equivalent of the Labor Party, but Bono, if you must enter politics in your homeland, please make it the equivalent on The Greens - anything else would be a crime.

Its little wonder that TV talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey has extended the olive tree to Bono and offered him the opportunity to host his own talk show on the newly formed OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). O has talked of OWN being the outlet that she always dreamed off, and clearly Bono is in her dream. As to if that dream is reciprocated or not, will be playing out in the news over the coming weeks or months, but eventually Bono will have to give an answer, and most of the people want it to be a "Yes".

Back to Bono giving the finger to the camera. Perhaps this may shed some light on it, before I might manage to confront him about it sometime, in that seemingly unlikely event.

"I know I can be a pain in the arse. I have an annoying gene; it's in my DNA. I even annoy myself. When righteous anger turns to self-righteous, projectile vomit is the right response. All I can say is that you can become traumatised as well as inspired by the lives you meet along the dirt road of extreme poverty. Watching the bright light of life go out of some kids' eyes gets me to a place I can't explain. Sometimes I forget that I'm an artist - but I shouldn't, because that's what I am, a working pop artist in a big F-Off rock band".

Maybe Bono had a brain snap and just wanted to show his very human side, and remind us that he's a rock star with attitude, and perhaps also he thought it might be good for one more news item from an up and coming freelance writer. In that instance, he was right, as is often the case, and its my human right to speculate, and yours - the reader, to critique.



Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), also known by his stage name Bono, is the main vocalist of the Irish rock band U2. Bono was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his wife, Ali Hewson, and the future members of U2. Since that time he has been referred to as Bono, his stage and nickname, by his family and fellow band members. Bono writes almost all U2 lyrics, often using political, social and religious themes. During their early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to U2's rebellious tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences with members of U2.

Among his non-U2 endeavors, he has collaborated and recorded with numerous artists, sits on the board of Elevation Partners and has refurbished and now owns a hotel with fellow band member, The Edge. Bono is also widely known for his activism concerning Africa, for which he co-founded DATA. He has organized and played in several benefit concerts and has met with influential politicians. He is the co-founder of EDUN, the ONE Campaign and Product Red. Bono has been praised and criticized for his activism and involvement with U2. Bono has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by the United Kingdom, and was named as a Person of the Year by Time, among many other awards and nominations.


On 25 September 1976, Bono, David Evans ("The Edge"), his brother Dik, and Adam Clayton responded to an advertisement on a bulletin board at Mount Temple posted by fellow student Larry Mullen Jr. to form a rock band. The band had occasional sessions in which they did covers. Bono wanted to play Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys songs; he was tired of long guitar solos and hard rock. Unfortunately, the band couldn't play covers very well, so they started writing their own songs. In 1977, they started listening to The Ramones, The Clash, David Bowie, Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine and incorporating influences from those bands into their music.

Their band went by the name "Feedback" for a few months, 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.'" When The Edge's guitar playing improved, Bono was relegated mostly to the microphone, although he occasionally still plays rhythm guitar and harmonica. Bono has recently taken piano lessons from his children's piano teacher.

Bono writes the lyrics for almost all U2 songs, often rich in social and political themes. 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 album. 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. Following the Enniskillen bombing that left 11 dead and 63 injured on 8 November 1987, the Provisional IRA paramilitaries threatened to kidnap Bono. IRA supporters also attacked a vehicle carrying the band members. These acts were in response to his speech condemning the Remembrance Day Bombing during a live performance of "Sunday Bloody Sunday". The singer had been advised to cut his on-stage outburst from the Rattle and Hum film, but it was left in.

U2's sound and focus dramatically changed with their next album, Achtung Baby. Bono's lyrics became more personal, inspired by experiences related to the private lives of the members of the band. During the band's Zoo TV Tour several of his stage personas were showcased; these included "The Fly", a stereotypical rock star, the "Mirror Ball Man", a parody of American televangelists, and "Mr. MacPhisto", a combination of a corrupted rock star and the Devil.]

During performances he attempts to interact with the crowd as often as possible and is known for pulling audience members onto the stage or moving himself down to the physical level of the audience. This has happened on several occasions including at the Live Aid concert in 1985 where 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 as the band played "Bad", and in 2005 during U2's Vertigo Tour stop in Chicago, where he pulled a boy onto the stage during the song "An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart".

Bono has won numerous awards with U2, including 22 Grammy awards and the 2003 Golden Globe award for best original song, "The Hands That Built America" for the film Gangs of New York. During the live broadcast of the ceremony, Bono called the award "really, really fucking brilliant!" In response, the Parents Television Council condemned Bono for his profanity and started a campaign for its members to file complaints with the FCC. 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.

In 2005, the U2 band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in their first year of eligibility.

Bono and his bandmates were criticized in 2007 for moving part of their multi-million euro song catalogue from Ireland to Amsterdam six months before Ireland ended a tax exemption on musicians' royalties. Under Dutch tax law, bands are subject to low to non-existent tax rates. U2's manager, Paul McGuinness, stated that the arrangement is legal and customary and businesses often seek to minimize their tax burdens. The move prompted criticisms in the Oireachtas (Irish parliament).

Other endeavours

In addition to his work with U2, he has collaborated with Zucchero, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Luciano Pavarotti, Sinéad O'Connor, Green Day, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and BB King. He has recorded with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Clannad, The Corrs, and Wyclef Jean, as well as reportedly completing an unreleased duet with Jennifer Lopez. On Robbie Robertson's 1987 eponymous album, he plays bass guitar and vocals. On Michael Hutchence's 1999 posthumous eponymous album Bono completed a recording of Slide Away as a duet with Hutchence.

In 1992, together with The Edge, Bono bought and refurbished Dublin's two-star 70-bedroom Clarence Hotel and converted it into a five-star 49-bedroom hotel. The Edge and Bono have also recorded several songs together, exclusive of the band. They have also been working on penning the score for the upcoming Spider-Man Musical. Bono is on the board of the Elevation Partners private-equity firm, which attempted to purchase Eidos Interactive in 2005 and has since gone on to invest in other entertainment businesses. Bono is a known Celtic F.C. fan, and in 1998 it was rumoured that Bono was going to buy shares in the Scottish club. However, it was reported on 28 April 1998 that this was not the case with Bono saying "it's rubbish. I've been to a couple of games and I'm a fan, but I've got no financial connections."

In May 2007, MTV reported that Bono is working on a collection of poetry entitled "Third Rail". Bono said the poetry is inspired by rock music. The book's foreword gives detail of the meanings of the poetry, saying "The poets who fill the pews here have come to testify, to bear witness to the mysterious power of rock and roll...Rock and roll is truly a broad church, but each lights a candle to their vision of what it is." The collection, which is edited by poet Jonathan Wells, contains titles such as "Punk Rock You're My Big Crybaby," "Variation on a Theme by Whitesnake" and "Vince Neil Meets Josh in a Chinese Restaurant in Malibu (After Ezra Pound)."[56] Bono has invested in the Forbes Media group in the US through his private equity investment firm Elevation Partners. Elevation Partners became the first outsider to invest in the company, taking a minority stake in Forbes Media LLC, a new company encompassing the 89-year-old business which 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 ($250m).

In film, Bono has played the character of "Dr. Robert", an anti-war shaman, in the musical, Across the Universe.. Also in this movie, he sang the Beatles songs "I am the Walrus" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Bono's other acting credits include cameos in 1999's Entropy and 2000's Million Dollar Hotel. In 2000 he acted as himself in the short film Sightings of Bono, adapted from a short story by Irish writer Gerard Beirne.

Humanitarian work

Bono has become one of the world's best-known philanthropic performers. He has been dubbed, "the face of fusion philanthropy", both for his success enlisting powerful allies from a diverse spectrum of leaders in government, religious institutions, philanthropic organizations, popular media, and the business world, as well as for spearheading new organizational networks binding global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise.

In a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine Bono explained that he was motivated to become involved in social and political causes by seeing one of the benefit shows staged by John Cleese and producer Martin Lewis for the human-rights organization Amnesty International in 1979. In 2001 Bono arranged for U2 to videotape a special live performance for that year's Amnesty benefit show. Introducing the performance, Bono referred to The Secret Policeman's Ball as "a mysterious and extraordinary event that certainly changed my life..."

Bono and U2 performed on Amnesty's Conspiracy Of Hope tour of the United States in 1986 alongside Sting. U2 also performed in the Band Aid and Live Aid projects, organized by Bob Geldof. In 1984, Bono sang on the Band Aid single "Do They Know it's Christmas?/Feed the World" (a role that was reprised on the 2004 Band Aid 20 single of the same name). Geldof and Bono later collaborated to organize the 2005 Live 8 project, where U2 also performed.

Since 1999, Bono has become increasingly involved in campaigning for third-world debt relief and raising awareness of the plight of Africa, including the AIDS pandemic. In the past decade Bono has met with several influential politicians, including United States President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. During a March 2002 visit to the White House, after President Bush unveiled a $5 billion aid package, he accompanied the President for a speech on the White House lawn. He stated, "This is an important first step, and a serious and impressive new level of commitment. ... This must happen urgently, because this is a crisis." In May of that year, Bono took US Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill on a four-country tour of Africa. In contrast, in 2005 Bono spoke on CBC Radio, alleging Prime Minister Martin was being slow about increasing Canada's foreign aid.

Bono spoke in advance of President Bush at the 54th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, held at the Hilton Washington Hotel on 2 February 2006. In a speech peppered with biblical references, Bono encouraged the care of the socially and economically depressed. His comments included a call for an extra 1 percent tithe of the United States' national budget. He brought his Christian views into harmony with other faiths by noting that Christian, Jewish, and Muslim writings all call for the care of the widow, orphan, and stranger. President Bush received praise from the singer-activist for the United States' increase in aid for the African continent. Bono continued by saying much work is left to be done to be a part of God's ongoing purposes.

The organization DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) was established in 2002 by Bono and Bobby Shriver, along with activists from the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt Campaign. It is DATA's mission to eradicate poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa. DATA encourages Americans to contact senators and other legislators and elected officials to voice their opinions.

In early 2005, Bono, his wife Ali Hewson, and New York-based Irish fashion designer Rogan Gregory launched the socially-conscious line EDUN in an attempt to shift the focus in Africa from aid to trade. EDUN's goal is to use factories in Africa, South America, and India that provide fair wages to workers and practice good business ethics to create a business model that will encourage investment in developing nations.

This work has not been without criticism. 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) criticizing such stars as Bono, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie 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." Bono responded to his critics in Times Online on February 19, 2006, 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. "

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

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 organizations, and as a result, Africa has become more dependent on international handouts.] That same month, however, Bono was honoured by NBC Nightly News as someone "making a difference" in the world. He and anchor Brian Williams had traveled to Africa in May 2007 to showcase the humanitarian crisis on the continent.

Product Red is another initiative begun by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Bobby Shriver has been announced as the CEO of Product Red, whilst Bono is currently an active public spokesperson for the brand. Product Red is a brand that is licensed to partner companies, such as American Express, Apple, Converse, Motorola, Microsoft, Dell, The Gap, and Giorgio Armani. Each company creates a product with the Product Red logo and a percentage of the profits from the sale of these labelled products will go to the Global Fund.


Bono is the only person to have been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Nobel Peace Prize. Bono was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, 2005, and 2006.

In 2002, he was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons in a poll conducted among the general public., despite the fact that he is Irish.

In 2004, Bono was awarded the Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honour from the Government of Chile.

Time Magazine named Bono one of the "100 Most Influential People" in its May 2004 special issue, and again in the 2006 Time 100 special issue. In 2005, Time named Bono a Person of the Year along with Bill and Melinda Gates.

Also in 2005, he received the Portuguese Order of Liberty for his humanitarian work. That year Bono was also among the first three recipients of the TED Prize, which grants each winner "A wish to change the world". Bono made three wishes, the first two related to the ONE campaign and the third that every hospital, health clinic and school in Ethiopia should be connected to the Internet. TED rejected the third wish as being a sub-optimal way for TED to help Africa and instead organized a TED conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Bono attended the conference, which was held in June 2007, and attracted headlines with his foul-mouthed heckling of a speech by Andrew Mwenda.

In 2007, Bono was named in the United Kingdom's New Years Honours List as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was formally granted knighthood on 29 March 2007 in a ceremony at the residence of British Ambassador David Reddaway in Dublin, Ireland.

Bono also received the NAACP Image Award's Chairman's Award in 2007. On 24 May 2007, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia announced that Bono would receive the Philadelphia Liberty Medal on September 27, 2007 for his work to end world poverty and hunger. On 28 September 2007, in accepting the Liberty Medal, 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, ... When you are a monk in Burma this very week, barred from entering a temple because of your gospel of peace ... well, then none of us are truly free." Bono donated the $100,000 prize to the organization. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala accepted the award for the Washington-based Debt AIDS Trade Africa.

* Nominated for the "Greatest Artist of the Modern Era" award by a group of his peers. He was recognized for his work with Band Aid, Live Aid, The KillJoy Papers for Change, and Project Red. (Credit: Wikipedia).



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