On Sep. 25, 1976, a 14-year-old Larry Mullen
Jr. posted a note on his high school bulletin board looking
for musicians for a band. One of Bono’s friends saw the
note and drove him there on his motorcycle. On that night,
as seven boys practiced in Mullen’s kitchen, the idea
of U2 was born. And soon the U2 we know today was formed: Mullen
on drums, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, Bono on vocals, and
The Edge on guitar. After more than 20 years, they are still
performing in sold out venues.
Bono’s commitment to Africa started in 1984 when he and
his wife, Ali, volunteered for six weeks in an Ethiopian refugee
camp. Africa has been close to his heart ever since. He is one
of the leading supporters of ways to end poverty – e.g.
equal trade and debt forgiveness for Third World countries – and
to reduce the number of AIDS cases in Africa and to provide inexpensive
treatment for those with AIDS. The most-prominent campaigns he
supports are The ONE Campaign and also, The Product Red.
The ONE Campaign encourages Americans to voice their concerns
and to fight against AIDS and extreme poverty, according to the
campaign’s Web page. The campaign believes that 1 percent
of the U.S. budget would change the future and hopes of an entire
generation of the poorest countries.
Bono has been signing up audience members during U2’s current
Vertigo tour in the United States and Europe. He hoped to get
a million people; so far he has gotten two million, The San Francisco
The Product Red has brought American Express, Converse, Gap,
and Giorgio Armani together to raise awareness and funds for
The Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa. These companies
are licensed to sell Red branded products, and they have committed
to contribute a profit from the sales into AIDS programs focusing
on women and children in Africa, according to the campaign’s
Bono’s ability to make a personal connection with his audience
was first seen during the Live Aid concert in 1985. U2 was playing “Bad”,
actually a relentless 13-minute version of it, when Bono leapt
off the stage to dance with a fan. Since then he has talked about
the world’s poor with congressmen, senators, and even with
President George W. Bush. He has had lunch at the White House,
and he helped to persuade several industrialized countries to
forgive debts of some of the poorest African countries during
a G-8 meeting last year.
Fans from all over the world are comparing a U2 concert to a
religious experience. To them, being a U2 fan is more than just
liking the music; it is also a political and religious ideology,
as expressed in many of Bono’s lyrics.
Bono might not be a God, but he is “the most politically
effective figure in the recent history of popular culture,” said
The New York Times, and he was named Person of the Year in 2005
by Time magazine. In addition he has been nominated for this
year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
So perhaps a rock star can change the world where many politicians
have failed. And maybe someday, Africa will stop being a place
where the streets have no name, and we can all be one in the
name of love.
As of press time U2 had postponed their April show until November,
according to their Web site, due to an illness in the family.