Paul Hewson was brought up in Ballymun, Dublin. His father was Roman Catholic
and his mother Protestant, and he was brought up with a strong religious faith
as a member of the Church of Ireland. But 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 when he 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, a mixed faith (both Protestant and Catholic) school which was the first of its kind in Dublin. It was there that he acquired the nickname "Bono Vox Of O'Connell St." In 1976 he responded to an advertisement by fellow student Larry Mullen, Jr. to form a band, as did Dave Evans (aka The Edge), brother Dik Evans (who soon left the band), and Adam Clayton. The remaining four formed a band named 'Feedback', before changing names 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.
Bono married his high school sweetheart, Alison "Ali" Stewart, on August 21, 1982. The singer has mentioned in several interviews that his stint in U2 and relationship with Ali began around the same time. The couple has four children - Jordan (b. 1989), Memphis Eve ('Eve' b. 1991), Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q (b. 1999) and John Abraham (b. 2001).
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.
In 2002, Bono wrote the introduction to the "Book of Psalms", one of nine books of the Bible published individually in Canongate Book's "Pocket Canons" series.
His nickname "Bono Vox" Ė usually shortened to "Bono" Ė is an alteration of Bona Vox, a brand of hearing aid for which the Latin translates to "good voice". Bono chose the name because it was the name of a shop he regularly passed on North Earl Street, just off O'Connell Street, in Dublin. "Bono Vox", however, literally means "The voice to the good man", Vox, the subject and Bono, the indirect object. The word bono is also Italian slang for "s--y" and the dative form of the Latin word bonus; see List of Latin phrases.
In 1984, Bono appeared in Band Aid and then reprised his role in the 2005 Band Aid 20. 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 May 2002, he took US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on a four-country tour of Africa. Also 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.
He 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." Martin was defeated in January, 2006 when the Conservative Party won for the first time in 12 years.
Bono then traveled 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. Bono also accompanied the President for a speech on the White House lawn. "This is an important first step, and a serious and impressive new level of commitment... This must happen urgently, because this is a crisis."
Along with Bob Geldof, Bono has come under fire from radical 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" in his Guardian article in June 2005. In July, 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. The Live Aid concert achieved next to none of these ideals and far from helping Africans has actually hindered them even more by the people behind the concert (Bono and Bob Geldof among others) conceding to the unfair proposals from the G8.
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. U.S. 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 of 2005, Bono was named by TIME as one of the Persons of the Year, along with Bill and Melinda Gates.
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