Bono reveals he's had death threats from the IRA, Dublin gangsters and the far right

Bono headshot
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

U2 frontman Bono has revealed that his outspoken stance and success have made him a target for threats of death and kidnapping. Bono was speaking at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival about his upcoming memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

A following article in The Times reports that U2’s opposition to paramilitary organisations in the 80s and 90s had hindered Irish Republican Army fundraising opportunities in the US, and that Gerry Adams – then leader of Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA – had been critical of the band's pro-peace stance. Bono reveals that Special Branch – the arm of the police responsible for national security – had informed him that his family were targets. 

Bon also revealed that a gangland leader in Dublin had formulated an elaborate  plan to kidnap his daughters, and that the gang spent several months monitoring his home.

The third threat came from the American far right, in the wake of the success of U2's 1984 single Pride (In the Name of Love), a song written about Martin Luther King Jr. Touring Arizona in the 1980s, U2 donated money to a fund to impeach State Governor Evan Mecham, who had rescinded an executive order that created a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the state. 

Before a subsequent show, Bono was warned that if he sang the verse in Pride about King’s assassination, he would “not make it to the end of the song”. Bono decided to go ahead and sang the lines, ‘Shot rings out in the Memphis sky, Free at last, they took your life, they could not take your pride" before closing his eyes. 

Bono said, "I looked up and I could not see the crowd because [bass player] Adam Clayton was standing in front of me and he had been there for the entire verse."

Next month Bono will visit the UK, US, Canada, Ireland, France, Spain and Germany on a mini-tour to promote Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, for what he promises will be "an evening of words, music and some mischief." The book is set to be published on November 1 by Hutchinson Heinemann. Full dates below.

Bono: Stories Of Surrender tour dates

Nov 02: New York Beacon Theatre, NY
Nov 04: Boston Orpheum Theatre presented by Citizens, MA
Nov 06: Toronto Meridian Hall, ON
Nov 08: Chicago The Chicago Theatre, IL
Nov 09: Nashville Ryman Auditorium, TN
Nov 12: San Francisco Orpheum Theatre, CA
Nov 13: Los Angeles The Orpheum Theatre, CA
Nov 16: London The London Palladium, UK
Nov 17: Glasgow SEC Armadillo, UK
Nov 19: Manchester O2 Apollo, UK
Nov 21: Dublin 3Olympia Theatre, Ireland
Nov 23: Berlin Admiralspalast, Germany
Nov 25: Paris Le Grand Rex, France
Nov 28: Madrid Teatro Coliseu, Spain

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.