It probably seems hard to believe, but U2 began as a band of four teenagers whose first rehearsal was in Larry Mullin Jr’s parent’s kitchen, in 1976. Almost four decades and 170 million album sales later, Ireland’s most famous export is one of the biggest bands in the world, having won more Grammy Awards than any other group, in history.
U2 are almost as well known for their philanthropy and charity work as they are for their music. Over twenty years, lead singer Bono has made a name for himself as a tireless worker for social and economic change in Third World Countries, and U2 – A Rock Crusade is the story of the band’s never ending energy, drive and commitment to social causes. It’s the story of a charismatic showman’s efforts to take his influence into politics, in order to affect change for the people who need it most – the poor and disadvantaged.
“To use your star power for people who have no power at all has to be a good thing” Bono says. U2 have been very successful in raising awareness, and in changing world policies to bring an end to poverty, hunger and social injustices. Capping many of the accolades he has received so far, Bono was named Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2005 for his efforts to reduce foreign debt for some of the poorest countries in the world.
Part of what makes U2 so special is that they have the same line up as when they first formed in 1976. This has meant that the band members – Paul Hewson (Bono), Larry Mullins Jr, Dave (The Edge) Evans and Adam Clayton – are as close as family to each other, meaning that if one gets sick or injured, the band would rather postpone a concert than substitute their “brother” with a local musician. Another reason why they have captured the imagination of music lovers around the globe is their dedication and special relationship with their fans, some of whom will travel long distances to attend a U2 concert.
Bono says his passion for philanthropy began when he saw a comedy charity show hosted by John Cleese at age 19. Since then he has become the only person in history to have been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Grammy, and the Nobel Peace Prize. Not bad for a kid from Dublin!
The Heart of the Music – Bono talks about why the band decided to begin the tour for their album Pop in 1997, in the tackiest city in the US, Las Vegas.
UK Hall of Fame – U2 were among five founding members inducted into the new UK Hall of Fame in November, 2004. In the past the award was voted on by British music journalists, but this year it was about whom had captured the hearts of the British public.
Time Magazine Person of the Year – In 2005 the award went to three people who had worked hard to make the world a better place through their philanthropy: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono from U2.
The Price of Fame – Bono is quite open about his dislike of the celebrity machine, and how it elevates ordinary people into gods. But he is also aware of his own celebrity and that it helps sell magazines. His aim has always been to use his fame to draw attention to the plights of those less fortunate.
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