“Edge smacked me. It was a full-on rumble.” The night that U2 guitarist The Edge punched Bono in the face onstage

(Image credit: Virginia Turbett/Redferns)

U2's first tour of America, launched at The Ritz club in New York on December 6, 1980, was an intense and fraught undertaking, not least on the night where guitarist The Edge punched vocalist Bono in the face.

In the band's 2006 autobiography, U2 by U2, the quartet reflected upon the tour, with Bono recalling, “Every night had to be the best night. We were the furthest you could find from chilled-out. It was very combative, sometimes with the audience, and sometimes between us.”

This intensity led to the one occasion where the band got into an actual fist-fight onstage. The date was December 14, the venue Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut and the fight saw The Edge punch Bono while defending drummer Larry Mullen.

The vocalist and guitarist spoke about their scrap when interviewed on British television by Jonathan Ross in July 2009. 

“It was one of those early gigs where you really feel your life depends on it being a great gig,” The Edge recalled. “And half way through the show Larry's drum kit started falling apart and he's literally got a set of spanners out trying to fix them. Bono didn't see what was going on, all he knew was that Larry had stopped playing , and he just lost his head... It all boiled over.”

“The Edge just caught me with one,” Bono said, miming the impact of a punch to the side of his face. “He hit me very, very hard.”

In U2 by U2, the band expanded further on the incident.

“I'd counted in a song, and Larry hadn't come in,” Bono explained. “I counted it in again, and he still didn't come in. `I looked around; to my psychopathic eyes he looked like he was hiding behind the drum kit. So I picked up the kit to show the audience the drummer hiding behind, and chucked it into the crowd.”

“He chased me around the drum kit, wanting to kill me with a mike stand,” Larry Mullen recalled. “I ran to the dressing room, running for my life. Edge jumped in andf got a slap while trying to save me.”

”Edge smacked me,” Bon remembered. ”It was actually a full-on rumble, with all members of the band whacking at me, and me whacking at them.It was pure pantomime, Laurel and Hardy. But Edge packs a punch. There's a lesson here: never pick a fight with a man who earns his living from hand to eye co-ordination.”

Watch Bono and The Edge discuss the stramash on the BBC's Friday Night With Jonathon Ross show below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.