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Hewson has been known as "Bono" since the late 1970s. During his youth, Bono and his friends were part of a street gang called "Lypton Village." The gang had a ritual of nickname-giving. Bono had several names: first, he was "Steinvic von Huyseman," then just "Huyseman," followed by "Houseman," "Bon Murray," "Bono Vox of O'Connell Street," and finally just "Bono." "Bono Vox" is an alteration of Bonavox, a Latin phrase which translates to "good voice."
In September 1976, Bono, David Evans ("The Edge"), his brother Dik, and Adam Clayton responded to an advertisement on a bulletin board at Mount Temple posted by fellow student Larry Mullen Jr. to form a rock band. The band had occasional jam sessions in which they did covers of other bands. Tired of long guitar solos and hard rock, Bono wanted to play Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys songs. Unfortunately the band could not play covers very well, so they started writing their own songs.
The band went by the name "Feedback" for a few months, before changing to "The Hype" later on. After Dik Evans left the group to join another band. The remaining four officially changed the name from "The Hype" to "U2."
Initially Bono sang, played guitar, and wrote the band's songs. He said of his early guitar playing in a 1982 interview, "When we started out I was the guitar player, along with the Edge—except I couldn't play guitar. I still can't. I was such a lousy guitar player that one day they broke it to me that maybe I should sing instead.” On occasion he plays rhythm guitar and harmonica. (Since 2006, Bono has taken piano lessons from his children's piano teacher to improve his songwriting.)
U2's sound and focus dramatically changed with their 1991 album, Achtung Baby. Bono writes almost all U2 lyrics, often using political, social, and religious themes. Over time, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences. Songs, including "I Will Follow," "Mofo," "Out of Control," "Lemon," and "Tomorrow," focus on the loss of his mother who died when he was 14.. Other songs focus on the theme of childhood vs. maturity, such as "Into the Heart," "Twilight," and "Stories for Boys."
During the band's Zoo TV Tour several of his stage personas were showcased; these included "The Fly," a stereotypical rock star, the "Mirror Ball Man," a parody of American televangelists, and "Mr. MacPhisto," a combination of a corrupted rock star and the Devil. Bono often allows fans to come on stage and perform songs with the band.
The FCC refused to fine NBC because the network did not receive advance notice of the consequences of broadcasting such profanity and the profanity in question was not used in its literal sexual meaning.
In 2002, he was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons in a poll conducted among the general public, even though he is Irish.
Outside the band, he has collaborated and recorded with numerous artists. Among other causes and activities, Bono is also widely known for his activism concerning Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign and Product Red.
He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and was named as a Person of the Year by Time, among other awards and nominations.
|Bono and The Edge|
The British Phonographic Industry has awarded U2 seven BRIT Awards, five of these being for Best International Group. In Ireland, U2 have won 14 Meteor Awards since the awards began in 2001. Other awards include one AMA, four VMAs, ten Q Awards, two Juno Awards, three NME Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2005.
In 2006, all four members of the band received ASCAP awards for writing the songs, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and "Vertigo."
The Joshua Tree ranks as one of the best-selling albums worldwide with sales of 25 million copies. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", while ranking Bono the 32nd greatest singer. (The Edge was ranked the 24th greatest guitarist.)
In 2010, eight of U2's songs appeared on Rolling Stone's updated list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time," with "One" ranking the highest at number 36. Five of the group's twelve studio albums were ranked on Rolling Stone's 2003 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"—The Joshua Tree placed the highest at number 26.