In the middle of the 1970s, Dublin was suffering from the same
Malaise that was burning up London and New York. The Eagles and
Peter Frampton were filling the airwaves with middle-of-the-road
Dirges more reminiscent of a Sunday hangover than a Saturday-night
Party. The underground was bubbling up and punk was about to
Break through, but Ireland was still a musical backwater. Everyone
Looked to London, which looked to New York or Berlin, for cues.
The only significant musical offerings Dublin had made in the last
Twenty years were folk stars the Dubliners and heavy-metal warriors
Thin Lizzy. Change was long overdue.
On the northern outskirts of Dublin, a group of teenagers that
Would later transform the world with the sheer force of their collective
Will and dedication to an original vision were lazily kicking
Around a schoolyard, searching for adventure. The four boys that
Would eventually form U2 were fifteen and sixteen in 1976.They were
All enrolled in Mount Temple, a comprehensive school that accepted
Children from both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds. It was the
First ever non-denominational school in Ireland and was a unique
Experiment for the time, part idealism and part pragmatism. Dublin’s
Rising middle-class was increasingly caring less for religious divisions
And more about getting on in the world. The future members of U2 came from both denominations, and it’s unlikely they would have met
Adam Clayton was the oldest and most eccentric of the bunch.
He played bass guitar, grew his hair into a blonde afro and wore an
Afghan coat. He was born in England on March 13, 1960 in the village
Of Chinnor outside of Oxford, where his father worked as a pilot
For British Airways. The family had lived in Nairobi, Kenya, until
1965 before settling in Malahide, just outside of Dublin.
Briefly attended St. Andrews Church of Ireland School and had a
Hard time fitting into the boarding school of St. Columba’s until his
Grades got so bad his parents pulled him out. While at school, he
Earned a reputation for being slightly off-center, but was always very
Polite to everyone. He’d bring a thermos into class and help himself
To a cup of coffee during lessons, and was never too concerned about
What others thought of him.
Paul Hewson was restless and looking for some excitement. Born
May 10, 1960, he was a mischievous and rambunctious child who
Earned the family nickname “the antichrist”1 for all the disturbances
He caused around the house. There was music in his home, and his
Father, Bob Hewson, was a huge opera fan. Paul took to playing chess
And became quite good. He also learned some guitar, sang, and
Rebelled against the loneliness of his home life. His mother, Iris, had
Died from a brain hemorrhage when he was fourteen, and he was living
With his dad and older brother, Norman. He missed her
Immensely and was searching for answers. He would eventually
Adopt the name Bono Vox, cockeyed Latin for “good voice,” and
Spend more and more time away from his home. He recalls:
My mother’s death just threw petrol on the fire. The big questions
Just built to a crescendo. I felt hopeless. I thought about suicide.
I was thinking too hard about everything.2
He began discussing his problems with a teacher of religion at school
And found comfort in her explanations. He started to pray and read
The Bible, hooking up with what was to become known as the
“Charismatic” movement that included Catholics and Protestants
Worshipping together throughout Ireland.