If I tell the truth it is the only U2 story I really know. But it would be my favorite story nonetheless.
It’s from the book Bono: In Conversation With Michka Assayas. The book is a fun read with some cool stuff, and about as much weird stuff as you would expect. But, the following story grabbed me and has easily and regularly come to mind. It concerns Bono and bandmate Adam Clayton the group’s bassist.
Bono’s answer comes after Assayas’ concerns about something bad happening at a U2 concert. The journalist had referenced Mark David Chapman, the crazed fan who shot and killed John Lennon. “I had this appalling fantasy of someone with a gun in the audience. I felt that Mark David Chapman thing could happen there. Did it ever cross your mind?”
Yeah, we had that. As you know, I don’t travel with security. I grew up around a low but significant level of violence. We always feel like a row or an argument or a grievance in Ireland or France could end up with a bottle smashed in your face. Guns are not pervasive. In America, any crackpot can get their hands on a gun, and we’ve had a fair share of crackpots over the years. At the end of the eighties, we campaigned for Martin Luther King Day. I remember in Arizona, we got into trouble, and we had some death threats. Normally, they happen. But occasionally, you get one that the police and the FBI take seriously.
There was a specific threat: “Don’t go ahead with the concert. And, if you do, don’t sing ‘Pride (In the Name of Love),’ because, if you do, I am gonna blow your head off, and you won’t be able to stop this from happening.” But I do remember actually, in the middle of “Pride,” thinking, for a second: “Gosh! What is somebody was organized, or in the rafters of the building, or somebody, here and there, just had a handgun?”
I just closed by eyes and sang this middle verse, with my eyes closed, trying to concentrate and forget about his ugliness and just keep close to the beauty that’s suggested in the song. I looked up, at the end of that verse, and Adam was standing in front of me. It was one of those moments where you know what it means to be in a band.*
It immediately and has always reminded me of John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
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*- In the book the quote was a single paragraph. I broke it for ease of reading.