'I nearly quit U2 before we found fame' says Bono

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

BONO has revealed that his religious convictions almost led him to quit U2 before finding stardom. Interviewed by veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne, pictured, for

RTE programme The Meaning of Life , the Dubliner also spoke about being a member of a Christian group known as the Shalom Fellowship along with band-mates The Edge and Larry Mullen in the early 1980s.

After the group's first album Boy was released in 1981, fellowship members persuaded the young musicians that their Christian beliefs were not consistent with a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

However, when Bono broached the subject of leaving U2 with manager Paul McGuinness, he said the businessman asked: "Jesus told you to do this, did He?"

McGuinness, described by Bono as the "Winston Churchill of rock", also pointed out that he had made contractual commitments on U2's behalf and that "God doesn't believe in breaking contracts".

The band returned to the studio and recorded October , which featured many of the spiritual themes they had explored while members of the Shalom Fellowship.

U2 went on to become the biggest group in the world, with a net worth last year estimated to have exceeded $830 million.

During the one-hour programme broadcast last night, Bono - real name Paul Hewson - spoke of how his Ballymun parents' own religious beliefs had helped mould him as an adult.

His mother Iris Elizabeth Rankin was a Protestant whose husband Brendan Robert Hewson, always known as Bobby, was a Catholic and a postal worker.

Bono described how he, his mother and his brother Norman would attend a Protestant church while Bobby remained outside waiting.

Praising his parents for having surmounted the challenges facing mixed-faith couples, he expressed sadness that Bobby gradually lost his faith.

Iris's death, when Bono was 14, affected the youngster's already turbulent relationship with his father, a talented painter and singer who was confined by his upbringing and circumstances.

The singer said the boys would be told by their father that "to dream is to delude yourself" but that those words drove Bono to have even bigger dreams.

Bobby lost his battle with cancer in 2001 at the age of 75 and without ever properly mending fences with his famous son.

However, Bono told Byrne that it was while sitting alone in a church in the south of France that he came to terms with their relationship.

"I just got on my knees and I asked for forgiveness from my father because I realised what an ass I'd been. I'm not sure if he was listening but I knew God was listening," he said.

Bono also realised that in some musical matters his father had been right, saying: "He used to say 'you know what you are? You're a baritone that thinks he's a tenor'."

Asked about whether he now belonged to any specific church or religion, Bono showed his knowledge of the bible by quoting St Paul to describe his view of faith.

"Love is patient, love is kind," he said.

Commenting on religious institutions, he said: "Whenever you see religious people, where their faith is more important than love, they've got it the wrong way round in my view."


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