Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Birthdate: May 10, 1960
Famous Years: 1982-Present
Currently Known For: Philanthropist, Lead Singer of U2
|Networth: $700 Million||Famous For: One, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, New Year's Day|
May 10, 1960
Philanthropist, Lead Singer of U2
One, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, New Year's Day
There may only be one rock ‘n’ roller that’s worth at least $1 billion, but there are some that are close. This includes Bono, who’s been the frontman for Irish rock group U2 since the band formed more than 40 years ago. Throughout that time, Bono has not only become an icon in the music industry, but is also one of the most vocal people out there when it comes to activism and philanthropy. For some, he’s more known for this type of charity work than he is for music, and that’s something he doesn’t mind.
Bono was born as Paul Hewson on May 10, 1960 in Dublin, Ireland in a traditional family, though suffered from great loss early on. While he was just 14 years old, he’d lose both his mother and grandfather in a very short timespan, leading him to hang out with a rough crowd. However, he’d show talents as a singer, which is how he got his name which is translated roughly from Latin for meaning a good voice.
When talking about his childhood, Bono said that he “grew up in what you would call a lower middle class neighborhood...But a nice street and good people. And, yet, if I’m honest, a sense of violence that was around the corner.” He added that “I was a bright kid early on. Then, in my teenage years, I went through sort of an awkward phase of thinking I was stupid. My schoolwork goes to (expletive); I can’t concentrate. I started to believe the world outside. Music was my revenge on that.”
At 16 years old, Bono would decide to pursue singing as a career when he saw a bulletin board at his school that was posted by drummer Larry Mullen, looking for people to join a rock band. Along with David (who’d eventually become known simply as The Edge) and Dik Evans with Adam Clayton, they got together and started making music. At first, they’d go through several name changes before finally landing on U2.
Eventually, U2 started to land gigs in their area, and tried to get the attention of music producers around Europe. At the end of the 1970s, they had finally been signed by Island Records, and released their first LP called “Three”. In 1980, they had their first wide release with the single “11 O’Clock Tick Tock”, followed up by “Another Day”. Later that year, U2 released their first full studio album with “Boy” that found moderate success in the United States and United Kingdom, while being a big hit in Ireland, Canada and New Zealand thanks to songs such as “I Will Follow”.
In terms of having a big international hit, U2 landed their first one from the 1983 album “War” with “New Year’s Day”. The album also contained “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, which would become more popular as the years went on. After having a hit with “In the Name of Love” in 1985, they had back to back hits in 1987 with “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.
That string of success would end up being exactly what Bono and U2 needed to establish themselves as one of the biggest names in rock as the genre felt a shift in the late 1980s, and U2 would maintain that popularity throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. They haven’t had a number one hit on the mainstream charts since 1987, but U2 has been able to sell out some of the biggest stadiums in the world on tour to this day, and Bono now has two dozen Grammy Awards that include the U2 album “The Joshua Tree” entering the Grammy Hall of Fame.
As mentioned earlier, Bono has since become one of the most prolific philanthropists in the world, having raised a lot of money and awareness for children in developing countries. So far, he’s donated millions to charities and has held several festivals, taking his band around the globe to help the cause.
It’s been a wide range of causes that Bono has championed for, which include AIDS awareness and corruption in certain countries. “I am trying to make my own leadership more strategic, more behind the scenes. If I am called on for meetings, I will go,” he said. “We campaign for transparency in the mining sector and the extractives industry. I am proud of all that work. It is not much written about, but it’s as important as fighting HIV/AIDS. Biggest killer in the developing world is not a disease – it is corruption.
That doesn’t mean that he’s given up on making music, though, as U2 is still releasing singles regularly with a trio in 2018 after their most recent album, “Songs of Experience” was released in the final weeks of 2017.
When talking about the fact that he’s had a number one album in every decade since the 1980s, it’s not always easy for Bono. “It’s much easier to be successful than it is to be relevant,” he said. “The tricks won’t keep you relevant. Tricks might keep you popular for a while, but in all honesty, I don’t know how U2 will stay relevant. I know we’ve got a future. I know we can fill stadiums. And yet with every record, I think, ‘Is this it? Are we still relevant?’”