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Bono

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Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), nicknamed Bono Vox (stage name) and Bono (pronounced Bonn-oh), is the lead singer and occasional rhythm guitarist of the Irish rock band U2. Bono lives south of Dublin 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 in The Dakota in Manhattan.

 

Biography

Paul Hewson was brought up in Glasnevin, Dublin. His mother, Iris, was Protestant, and his father, Bob, was a Roman Catholic. When asked whether he would call himself a Catholic or Protestant, the singer is reported to have said, "I always felt like I was sitting on the fence." His mother died of a brain haemorrhage at her father's funeral, when Bono was fourteen years old. Many U2 songs, especially from the early albums ("I Will Follow", "Out of Control", "Tomorrow"), focus on this part of his life.

He attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School, an Ecumenical school, which was the first of its kind in Dublin. During his childhood and adolescence, Bono and his friends were part of a surrealist street gang called Lypton Village, where one of the rituals was nickname-giving. He had several names: first, he was "Steinvic von Huyseman", then just "Huyseman", then "Houseman", then "Bon Murray", "Bono Vox of O'Connell Street", and finally just "Bono".

"Bono Vox" is an alteration of Bona Vox, a brand of hearing aid. The phrase in Latin translates to "good voice". "Bono Vox" was the name of a hearing aid shop they regularly passed on North Earl Street, just off O'Connell Street, in Dublin. It is said he was nicknamed "Bono Vox" after the shop by his friend Gavin Friday because he sang so loudly he seemed to be singing for the deaf. Initially, Bono did not like his name. However, when he learned it translated to "good voice", he accepted it.

In 1976, Bono responded to an advertisement by fellow student Larry Mullen, Jr. to form a band, as did Dave Evans (also known as The Edge), brother Dick Evans (who soon left the band), and Adam Clayton. The remaining four formed a band named 'Feedback', before changing the name to 'The Hype' and then settling on U2. Initially Bono sang, played guitar and wrote songs. As The Edge became a better guitarist, Bono was relegated to vocals, although he often plays acoustic guitar and harmonica.

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Bono married his longtime girlfriend, Alison "Ali" Stewart, on 21 August 1982, in an Anglican ceremony at a chapel on the Guinness family estate. The singer has mentioned in several interviews that his stint in U2 and relationship with Ali began around the same time. The couple have four children: Jordan (b. 1989), Memphis Eve ('Eve' b. 1991), Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q (b. 1999) and John Abraham (b. 2001).

Following the Enniskillen bombing in 1987, several newspapers claimed Provisional IRA paramilitaries had put Bono on a hit-list for his "fuck the revolution" speech following the bombing that left 11 dead and 63 injured on 8 November 1987. The singer had been advised to cut his on-stage outburst from the Rattle and Hum film but it stayed. Some papers suggested the film's charity London premiere on 31 October would have to be cancelled. It wasn't, and U2 all turned up, although their attempts to busk in Leicester Square were prevented by crowds and police.

In 1992, together with U2's guitarist The Edge, Bono bought and refurbished Dublin's two-star 70-bedroom Clarence Hotel and converted it into a five-star 49-bedroom hotel, which quickly gained a reputation as one of the most stylish (and expensive) hotels in the city.

Bono is almost never seen in public without his sunglasses on. He has said in a Rolling Stone interview that the reason is he has "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."

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.

Humanitarian work

In a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine Bono explained that he was first motivated to become involved in social and political causes by seeing one of the benefit shows staged by Monty Python's John Cleese and producer Martin Lewis for human rights organization Amnesty International in 1979. "I saw 'The Secret Policeman's Ball' and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed..." The seed led to Bono and U2 being performers on Amnesty's Conspiracy of Hope tour of the US in 1986 alongside Sting who was one of the Secret Policeman's Ball performers seen by Bono.

In 1984, Bono sang on the Band Aid single and reprised his role on the 2004 Band Aid 20 single. He also performed at Live Aid in 1985, and Live 8 in 2005. Since 1999, he has become increasingly involved in campaigning for third-world debt relief and the plight of Africa.

In March 2002, Bono travelled to the White House for a special private meeting with President George W. Bush, who had just unveiled a $5 billion aid package for the world's poorest countries that respect human rights. He also 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 2002, Bono took US Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill on a four-country tour of Africa. Later in that year, Bono set up an organization called "DATA", which stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa. The focus of the organization is to raise awareness about what he claims are Africa's unpayable debts, uncontrolled spread of AIDS, and unfair trade rules that hurt the continent's poor citizens.

Bono made a speech during the inauguration of Paul Martin as Canada's prime minister, who in turn pledged to help with the global crisis. In 2005, in a time that some claimed Martin was facing "political destruction", Bono spoke on CBC Radio "bashing" Martin for being slow at increasing Canada's foreign aid. Following this a spokesperson for the Prime Minister pointed out that the budget has seen an 8% increase to aid and that "Rather than set an artificial deadline, the prime minister has focused on real increases measured in real dollars each and every year."

In early 2005, Bono, Ali Hewson and New York-based Irish fashion designer Rogan Gregory launched the socially conscious line EDUN. This has been an attempt to shift the focus in Africa from aid to trade. By utilizing factories in Africa, South America, and India that provide fair wages to the workers and practice good business ethics EDUN will hopefully create a business model which will encourage others to invest in developing nations.

In July 2005, Bono played a fundamental role in the effort to 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.

Later in the year, before Paul Wolfowitz was chosen to replace James Wolfensohn as president of the World Bank, Bono was spoken about as a serious candidate for the position. United States Secretary of the Treasury John Snow said about Bono on the ABC news talk program This Week: "He's somebody I admire. He does a lot of good in this world of economic development." The selection process for the position is by member governments, however, and his selection was considered unlikely.

In December 2005, Bono was named by TIME as a Person of the Year, along with Bill and Melinda Gates. An article by former senator Jesse Helms appears in a special issue of May's Time magazine, "Time's 100 Most Influential People".

On 2 February 2006 Bono spoke in advance of United States President George W. Bush at the 54th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, held at the Hilton Washington Hotel. 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% "tithe" of the United States' national budget. His Christian views were brought into harmony with other faiths as he noted that Christian, Jewish and Muslim writings universally called for the care of the widow, orphan, and stranger. President Bush appeared uncomfortable receiving 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.

In May 2006, Bono became Editor of The Independent newspaper for a day in aid of the (RED) charity.

In February 2003, 2005 & 2006, Bono was among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2004 he was awarded the Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honour from the Government of Chile, one of only 100 recipients.

Criticism

Along with Bob Geldof, Bono has come under fire from journalist George Monbiot for getting too close to those in power, and therefore running the risk of legitimising their actions. Monbiot dubbed the pair "Bards of the Powerful". They have also drawn criticism from Bianca Jagger for "trying to patent the language of poverty reduction" and that his relationship with George Bush and Tony Blair amounts to little more than a "mutual admiration club".

Bono has also been criticized for his connection with the war game Mercenaries 2: "many people around the world have been shocked to find out that you are a part owner, through Elevation Partners, of Pandemic/Bioware producers of “Mercenaries 2” (...) a war game that simulates the invasion of Venezuela in the year 2007.".

Bono, along with the rest of the band U2, has also come under criticism for moving part of their multi-million euro business empire out of Ireland for tax reasons. Commenting on the decision to move his assets to a tax shelter, Joan Burton, the finance spokesman of the Irish Labour Party commented:

"Having listened to Bono on the necessity for the Irish Government to give more money to Ireland Aid, of which I approve, I am surprised that U2 are not prepared to contribute to the Exchequer on a fair basis along with the bulk of Irish taxpayers.”

As the leader of the "Drop The Debt" Campaign, Bono has been strongly criticised in asking the top richest 25 countries to drop the debt to the poorest countries, in effect requesting the tax payers to foot such debt. The criticism was underlined by virtue of the fact that Bono has recently moved his accounts base to Amsterdam in order to avoid tax payable on artists royalties - a tax artists in Ireland wouldn't have had to pay up to recently.

U2 were able to exploit a 1969 artists-tax exemption, intended to help struggling artists, until it was semi-repealed in 2005 and pay relatively little tax despite their great wealth, estimated at €690 million+ by the Sunday Times. This, coupled with his charity campaigning has led to accusations that he is two-faced in the Irish media. When he criticised the Irish government for not meeting the DATA target of 0.7% of GDP to be set aside for the 3rd World a government minister, Conor Lenihan, suggested that if he paid his taxes then the government would be halfway to meeting the figure.

He has also been accused of hypocrisy for his decision to buy a 40%, £160 million share in Forbes magazine, as its pro-capitalism, right-wing politics are seemingly at odds with Bono's left-wing campaigning. Bono is reported to be an avid reader of the publication. An article in The Daily Mail on 12 August 2006 also presented a different picture of him than his own publicity. He is an owner of several luxury houses, a fleet of expensive cars and is a noted wine connoisseur who regularly spends thousands on a single bottle at his favourite New York restaurants. And despite his campaiging for reduction in fuel emissions, along with the other members of U2 he purchased an Airbus A320 to fly them around the world on their latest tour. His interest in making money was noted by investment expert Roger McNamee with whom he formed Elevation Partners, which invested £200 million merging two computer games firms. Sources also report he is interested in buying a stake in the large U.S newspaper group Knight Ridder in addition to his well-publicised bid for BMG Publishing.

Trivia

  • Bono, along with Island Records producer Chris Blackwell, were flying in Jimmy Buffett's plane when the "Jamaica Mistaica" incident occurred. Jamaican authorities believed the Grumman HU-16 Albatross was being used as a "ganja plane" to smuggle drugs and opened fire while all three were inside. No one was hurt.
  • In 2004, Bono was given an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Pennsylvania
  • Only person ever to have been nominated for a Grammy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.

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