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Bono reveals dad's dying words

Posted on Friday, December 07 @ 05:45:58 CET by Macphisto


THE sound of cheering from the audience was still ringing in U2 legend Bono's ears. Many of the crowd were fighting the traffic trying to get home from their latest gig.

But the singer was at his dying dad's hospital bedside in Dublin having jetted there by private plane.

It was a pilgrimage he made night after night as the band played in Europe.

And he will never forget the moment he saw 75-year-old Bob Hewson slip away and the angry last words his father whispered as his son held him and life ebbed away.

It is a rare exclusive interview and probably his most revealing as Bono, 41, speaking openly for the first time about his heartache as the band finish their mammoth nine-month Elevation tour, talks of his agony.

He told me: “Those songs we sang on tour really helped me through the death of my dad.

“The problem with grief is bottling it up and that's when it can really floor you. You have to express it and face it and I was doing that every night.”

He is talking for the first time about the death of his dad three months ago. Bono was at his dad's bedside as he died and, amazingly, on stage hours later.

He admits: “It was a very odd time — I used to leave stage, immediately get on a plane home and get in to Dublin. I would have one glass of Bushmills to steady my nerves, then go in.

“I slept beside my father with the sound of the audience ringing in my ears during his dying days.

“The U2 crowd are the noisiest crowd in the world and I'd still hear it. There were probably still people driving home and I would be lying there beside his silence and he'd just stare at me, or mutter something. I did get to spend a lot of time with him at the end.

“We didn't have the greatest relationship when I was growing up but towards the end of his life we made our peace and I felt very lucky to be beside him.

“I was there when he said his last words. He woke up and looked at me and I looked at him and he said: ‘Are you all fin' mad?' and I said ‘What?' because he'd been whispering and he said: ‘Are you all fin' mad? This place is a prison and I want to go home.' And I guess he did.

“I later realised that he might not just have been talking about the hospital — it was his sickness he was fed up with.

“The way I look at it now is that he's got a new body. I'm not afraid of death and I know I'll see him again.”

In March, I was in Miami for the spectacular opening of U2's Elevation tour — without doubt one of the greatest rock 'n roll tours of all time.

Nine months later Bono is back as it comes to end in the same city — but much has changed.

Bono's dad is dead, so is George Harrison. The Twin Towers have gone and the world is at war. It weighs heavy on Bono's heart.

Luckily he, along with bandmates Larry Mullen Jnr, The Edge and Adam Clayton, love touring.

Bono is reflecting on the amazing jaunt. But he admits the flip-side is that he has become a cyberdad, only knowing his four children, Jordan, 12, Eve, ten, Elijah, two, and one-year-old John Abraham via email. That is why, in some ways, he sounds pleased the tour is over.

He explains, his voice croaking: “I'm just a natural travel rat. I love being on the road except for one thing. I've now got kids and I have a family that I really miss when I'm not with them.

“Even though they can come out and we spend time together, I'm just ready for me and them now — being a dad again.

“Being a cyberdad doesn't suit me. I get pictures of the kids over the internet and I'm looking at them on my computer, thinking how sad is this.

“I'm looking at pictures and I want to see them now and cuddle them — and I can't.

“Of course it can be hard on a relationship but my wife Ali is great. When I go off on tour, she throws a party ... she's a very independent spirit, no insecurities as a woman.

“I think the key to a great relationship is that sometimes there's some mystery in it. She defends my privacy as much as I do.

“My kids are amazing — I don't like the fact that Elijah thinks I work on an aeroplane and every time one goes over, he says, ‘Oh, there's Dad.'”

The tour has only just finished but already the band are thinking about playing again next year and are even in the studio working on tracks for a follow-up to the global hit album All That You Can't Leave Behind.

Bono says: “There's a side of me that likes to run amok and I'll have a wild and messy Christmas with my family and friends. But we have work to do.

“This band is on fire right now and we want to capture the power of this tour in some songs.

“I love life but I've got a family and things I take very seriously.

“I get bored with partying and maybe that's my saving grace — some people don't. I love the idea of carnival but it comes before Lent. You have to have both.

“If I'm drinking too much then I know when to stop — perhaps if I hadn't found somebody as special as Ali, or if I didn't have the friends or the faith I have, then maybe I'd be there with Michael Hutchence.

“You can never judge people who get into trouble because there but for the grace of God ...”

As the tour began, Bono claimed the group were hoping to regain the “best band in the world” tag.

If you didn't catch it, watch U2 Elevation — Live From Boston on DVD or video and you will know they have done it ... but does he feel the band succeeded?

Bono is defiant and if anyone else said it, you would hate them for it. But he pulls it off as he tells me: “I said we wanted our title back as the greatest rock 'n roll band in the world.

“It's about doing it live — you've got to stand in that room and when that floor is shaking and your heart is bursting, you're really taken somewhere. Then you know you're seeing the best band in the world.

“There's some extraordinary bands out there — Radiohead, Oasis, Coldplay, Travis, Stereophonics.

“But what it's about is that you have to prove it on any given night. But I have to say, I had that feeling on any given night, more than ever.”

That's a yes then. And he is right, you know.

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Bono reveals dad's dying words

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