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Updated: May 1

Bono, born in Dublin, Ireland, on May 10, 1960, is renowned as the lead singer of the globally acclaimed rock band U2 and for his activism in human rights causes.

Raised by a Catholic father and a Protestant mother who passed away when he was just 14, Bono’s upbringing was marked by a blend of faiths. In 1977, he, along with David Evans (later known as “the Edge”), Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton, formed U2. 

U2’s breakthrough came in 1983 with “War,” followed by even greater success with “The Unforgettable Fire” in 1984. Bono’s star turn for Band Aid seemed to inspire the band to take an interest in human rights activism. They joined the “Conspiracy of Hope” tour in 1986, organized by Amnesty International USA. Bono’s experiences in war-torn Nicaragua and El Salvador further fueled his interest in global issues.

U2’s album “The Joshua Tree” (1987) became a monumental success, ranking 26th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of top 500 albums of all time. Over the years, U2 continued to produce chart-topping albums, including “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (2004) and “Songs of Experience” (2017), solidifying their status as one of the most influential bands of all time. Their activism also earned them numerous accolades, including more than 20 Grammy Awards and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2022.

Outside of music, Bono embarked on a second career as a global activist. In 2002, he co-founded Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA), an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty, hunger, and AIDS in Africa through advocacy and partnerships. Despite criticism for his willingness to collaborate with leaders like President George W. Bush, Bono remained committed to securing funding for AIDS programs and debt relief for impoverished African nations.

Although Bono’s activism became less visible during the 2010s, he continued to work behind the scenes to advocate for global issues. Around the same time, the band were criticised for avoiding tax. The bands license their copyright to companies that they set up in the Netherlands, which in turn license it to companies in other countries. While the Netherlands companies receive the bands’ global royalties, they only pay tax on what is earned in the Netherlands itself, allowing the groups to cut their tax bills.

In 2022, he released his memoir, “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,” reflecting on his journey as both a musician and an activist. Bono’s enduring impact as a musician and a humanitarian underscores his commitment to using his fame for positive change on a global scale.

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  • more of a ‘force for good’

  • Less of a ‘force for good’


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