U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge are known for much more than just their chart-topping rock anthems: Both are humanitarians who have lent their time and hearts to a variety of causes over the years. We’re taking a closer look at the statesmen of rock ‘n’ roll with profiles of both Bono and The Edge to get to know both a bit better.
Who: David “The Edge” Howell Evans
Born: Aug. 8, 1961
Instruments: Guitars, piano, keyboards, vocals/background vocals
U2’s David “The Edge” Howell Evans was born in Barking, Essex, in East London, to Gwenda and Garvin Evans. He met the guys who would eventually make up U2 in school, and formally joined the band in the mid-‘70s, after responding to a notice posted on his school’s bulletin board at Mount Temple appealing for musicians.
Right as U2 were getting off their feet, Bono renamed Dave Evans. His new moniker, “The Edge,” is a name he would take with him for his entire career.
Following high school graduation, The Edge decided to wait a year to pursue collage and, instead, focused on music and U2. He left U2 at one point in the late-‘70s, but Bono convinced him to follow his heart, and The Edge soon found his way back to the band. The rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
The Edge married Aislinn O'Sullivan in 1983, and the two had three daughters: Hollie, Arran and Blue Angel. The two separated in 1990 and divorced in 1996. He married Morleigh Steinberg, the belly dancer and choreographer from the Zoo TV Tour, in 2002, and the two have two children: Sian and Levi.
The Edge’s guitar work truly defines U2’s sweeping, clean sound. He’s known for his soaring sonic textures and heavily processed, ringing guitars.
All of the members of U2 have been supporters of organizations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International. In 2005, The Edge took his involvement further and co-founded the charity Music Rising with Bob Ezrin and Gibson’s own Henry Juszkiewicz in response to Hurricane Katrina. The goal of the organization was to restore the Gulf Coast’s musical climate by replacing instruments that had been lost in the tragedy. The Edge also publically supports the New York Food Bank and Mencap Northern Ireland.
“Just as a comedian doesn’t want to tell the same jokes over and over, we don’t want to play the same songs the same way. On the other hand, we’ve now come to a place where we’re comfortable admitting we have our own style and we can do what we want with it. It’s our sound. We made it, and we can break it if we want. Of course, we’re the only ones that know how to put it back together again, too. All it takes is lots of arguing,” on U2’s evolving sound, via Guitar World.
“ … Jamming is really the most awful, excruciating experience for me, I really don’t enjoy it. First of all, that’s not how I work as a guitar player. I compose using the instrument, I don’t really sit down and play for the sake of playing stuff. So the idea of jamming – endless, directionless noodling around some nondescript chord progression – I really find very boring. Obviously a great song is fun to play, but U2 were never really in that phase of The Beatles in Hamburg or Van Morrison in showbands or Dylan in the folk clubs, of knowing and learning a big collection of classics. We never did that, and at the time we were forming as a band there really wasn’t a large collection of songs that we felt like learning. It was actually a moment where the past was being thrown out the window, so its very much part of our DNA as a band not to be too reverential, as a general rule, and to try and look forward all the time. Invention being what we value most highly as opposed to emulation – which is what a lot of musicians feel is important, being able to play like the greats,” on jamming with other guitarists, via The Telegraph.
“I suppose ultimately I’m interested in music. I’m a musician. I’m not a gunslinger. That’s the difference between what I do and what a lot of guitar heroes do,” on resisting rock ‘n’ roll clichés, via www.atu2.com.
Who: Paul David “Bono” Hewson
Born: May 10, 1960
Instruments: Vocals, guitar
U2 frontman Paul David “Bono” Hewson was born in the north Dublin suburb of Ballymun. His father, Brendan Robert Hewson, was Catholic, and his mother, Iris Elizabeth Rankin, was protestant.
At the age of 14, Bono suffered a tragedy when his mother passed away after experiencing a brain hemorrhage at her own father’s funeral.
Shortly after losing his mother, Hewson got his nickname. At first, his new name was “Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang,” but that moniker evolved to “Bonavox of O’Connell Street” (after a hearing aid show in Dublin) to Bono Vox (“good voice” in Latin) and, eventually, to “Bono.” A childhood friend, “Guggi” (Derek Rowan), helped give him the name.
As for love, Bono began dating Alison Stewart in 1976, and the two were married on August 21, 1982. The couple has four children: Jordan, Memphis Eve, Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi and John Abraham.
Like The Edge, Bono responded to a note on the Mount Temple bulletin board calling for musicians. The band started under the name Feedback, which evolved to Hype and, finally, U2. The band, of course, would become one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
Bono is known for not only his lush, powerful tenor, but also for his moving lyrical themes. U2 have always made faith, hope and love their central motifs, and that’s thanks in no small part to Bono’s spiritual lyrics.
Bono has a long history of dedicating his time to causes both with and outside of U2. His activism started when he traveled to Ethiopia with World Vision to lend a helping hand to a feeding camp with his wife Ali. For decades, Bono has assisted a number of causes and charities, including Greenpeace, the Jubilee 2000 project and beyond. He fought to end AIDS and extreme poverty in Africa by co-founding the lobbying organization DATA (Debt, Aid, Trade, Africa) and combated poverty with the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History (U.S.) and the Make Poverty History movement (U.K.). Bono also was instrumental, alongside Bob Geldof, in helping to put together the Live 8 concerts in 2005, a collection of events around the world with the goal to increase aid, cancel Third World debt and help better the terms of trade with the world’s poorest countries and regions.
More recently, in 2006, Bono and Bobby Shriver co-founded the Product (RED) campaign, which aims to sway large companies with global brands to sell a few lines of products from which a part of the revenue will go towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria. Bono has helped many other charities over the years, and he’s widely considered one of rock’s biggest humanitarians.
“Our generation will be remembered for the Internet, for the war against terror, and for how we let an entire continent burst into flames while we stood around with watering cans—or not,” regarding the AIDS epidemic, via Oprah.
“… I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It’s almost like religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building. God's Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace that can never be constricted by any one religious paradigm. I love that. You know, it says somewhere in the scriptures that the Spirit moves like a wind--no one knows where it's come from or where it's going. The Spirit is described in the Holy Scriptures as much more anarchic than any established religion credits,” on religion, via Beliefnet.com.
“We have so many [new] songs, some of our best. But I'm putting some time aside to just go and get lost in the music. I want to take my young boys and my wife and just disappear with my iPod Nano and some books and an acoustic guitar,” on U2’s future, via Rolling Stone.