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Interview With Bono

Aired December 1, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, U2's Bono. The rock star on a mission to save the planet, and he's gotten serious face time with the president and the pope along the way. To talk about all that and a lot about his love for Frank Sinatra too, an in-depth hour with an inspirational man, Bono, next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.
Good evening, and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND.

I get to, in this job, walk among giants, and that walk continues tonight with a visit with Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock group, U2. U2 has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, 14 Grammys. Beyond being internationally renowned, Bono is active in numerous humanitarian causes, including the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign, been instrumental in setting up a nonprofit organization called DATA -- Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa.

And this is AIDS Day -- World AIDS Day, December 1, and in that connection, Bono is a perfect guest. He has been on cover of "Time" magazine. "Spin" calls the band "the band of the year," and the band has been around a long time. "George" had him on the cover, and the music awards issue of "Rolling Stone" made "U 2001," they called it.

How did you come up with the name, U2?

BONO, LEAD SINGER, U2: Oh, I don't like the name, U2, actually.

KING: You don't like it.

BONO: Yes, because the history of great rock 'n' roll bands with crap names. I mean, people forget that the Beatles is a really bad pun, you know.

KING: But who came up with U2? Who of the four guys said, "U2?"

BONO: We had a few names. Our first name -- and we were all 16, 15, in fact, Larry was 14.

KING: You've been together forever, right?

BONO: Yes, it was like a high school band. And then, the first name was the Hype, which we soon lived up to. And Feedback was another one, and then a man called Steven Averill (ph), who designs and still designs our album covers, came up with the name U2.

KING: As a submarine takeoff? BONO: I thought it was a submarine, but then it was a spy plane, and...

KING: That's right, it was a spy plane.

BONO: You know, but I always thought it was like...


KING: A U-2 had got shot down. There was a whole big hullabaloo.

BONO: Yes, yes, that's right.

KING: And you don't like...

BONO: Gary Powers.

KING: That's right. And you don't like it because?

BONO: I don't know. It's just -- I never thought about it as in, you know, "you too." I really didn't, but that's me.

KING: Well, we've got lots to talk about with Bono, and this is a historic day, of course. It's World AIDS Day, and on this night, he's going to make an announcement that he's starting a new tour, not a musical tour. What is it?

BONO: Well, you know, myself and Ashley Judd and -- you know, the Judd family is just kind of extraordinary. I mean, no one in America doesn't...

KING: Winona.

BONO: Yes, Winona. What a singer, and Naomi and -- anyway, a great family. Ashley, I've known since she was, you know, a kid, and she is involved in Youth for AIDS in Africa.

And we are teaming up. We're going with lots of other folks into the heart of America -- into the places where politicians don't expect you to go. You know, they think issue with AIDS is just -- you know, it's not for the -- the people of America are too self-interested, they think, to be concerned about what's going on in the rest of the world. We think they're wrong, and we're going to listen...


BONO: ... to what people have to say about this problem.

KING: And you're going to go and speak and listen.

BONO: Speak and listen. And listening is important, too. You know, I want to know -- I want to know what Americans think about what's happening in the rest of the world. This is the biggest pandemic facing the human race since the bubonic plague took a third of Europe. KING: Where are you going to go?

BONO: ... in the Middle Ages. Lincoln, Nebraska, Omaha, Indianapolis, Nashville...

KING: Bono and the Judds come to Omaha.

BONO: Well, it's just -- it's not a musical thing, though we're taking with us an African troupe, a singing and drama group. They're extraordinary. They're from Ghana. They're called the Gateway Ambassadors. And they're going to come along just to make sure it doesn't get too boring.

KING: By the way, why isn't it Bono?

BONO: Why isn't it Bono?

KING: Yes, because it's B-O-N-O. It should read Bono.

BONO: Can I tell you? I got on a lift once with a rather cross- looking gentleman, and he got out, and I stayed in on the next floor. And he looked at me, and he just went "Bono." And I turned to the person next to me after the doors closed, and I said, 'Who does he think he is?' She said, "That was Sonny Bono." So...

KING: Why is it Bono?

BONO: Bono, man, I don't know.

KING: You don't know why it's U2, you don't know why it's Bono.

BONO: It's a name I've had since I was 14 years old. It's like -- it's a guy name, you know...


KING: Because your real name is Paul David Hewson, right?

BONO: It's Paul David Hewson.

KING: Do you think U2 would have been a hit if you were Paul David Hewson?

BONO: I don't know. The only person who ever called me Paul was my father, so I always associate it with doing something wrong, you know. So, you know, occasionally, people will come up to me on the street and try to, you know, ingratiate themselves and call me Paul. I don't like it, actually.

KING: Who named you...

BONO: OK, Larry?

KING: Who named you Bono?

BONO: Bono, my friend and still one of my very best friends. He's a great -- now a great and successful painter, and his name is Guggi. I gave him that name, and he gave me the name Bono. It was short for Bonavox of O'Connell Street, actually, if you really want to know.

KING: So, you're -- one thing, we have a lot in common -- Irish, Jewish streets. You did a little better than we did, but however, we have friends in childhood, right?

BONO: Yes.

KING: The band is friends.

BONO: Yes.

KING: It's very important. Not many people carry that with them through life.

BONO: Yes, yes. And in fact, December -- well, it was November actually 25 years ago, I joined U2, and I met -- I started going out with Allie, who is my wife. So, it was a good month.

KING: So everything is with you from childhood.

BONO: That was a good month. Yes.

KING: The band, your best friend who named you.

BONO: Yes, and unfortunately, my childhood itself. I'm shucked (ph) out.

KING: Why with all you have musically, why do you get involved? Why do you do all you do?

BONO: I only do what people would do if they had the time and the money.

KING: No, there are a lot of people with money that don't do what you do.

BONO: No, no, I'm sure that -- you know, I remember after Live Aid, I got kind of caught up in Live Aid, and it was Bob Geldof, an Irish guy, that kicked the "We are the World," "Do They Know It's Christmas?" thing. And myself -- my wife and I went out to Africa. I mean, what -- I didn't tell anyone. We just went off for a month, and because we could. You know, we could afford to take the time.

And kind of my life changed really there, and I saw things that you shouldn't ever see in your life. And we stayed in this -- north of Ethiopia. I used to get up in the mornings. We slept in a tent. And as the mist would lift, you know, over the hills, you would see tens of thousands of people who had been walking all night to get food. They were coming to this camp.

And sometimes, they would leave children there and walk away from them. And we would get to the children, and those children would be dead. And sometimes even worse things would happen, like a man came to me with his beautiful, beautiful boy, and said, "Please, here is my child, I can't look after him. Will you take my child? Because I know my child will live in your hands and not in mine." And...

KING: What did you do?

BONO: I couldn't take the child. Of course, I couldn't take the child. And...

KING: Was this your first...

BONO: But I'm still taking the child now, you know. I'm taking the child with me into...

KING: You're taking all of them.

BONO: You take them. You know, these -- all of these experiences are tattooed on you.

KING: Was that your first entrance into what became activism?

BONO: It was. And you know, we're coming home on the plane, and we say, we'll never forget this. You know, we will never forget what we have seen, the squandering of human life for stupid reasons -- you know, money. Money is not a good enough reason to die.

Two-and-a-half million Africans are going to die next year for the stupidest of reasons, because it's difficult to get the AIDS drugs to them. Well, it's not difficult to get fizzy drinks to the furthest, you know, reaches of Africa. We can get cold, fizzy drinks. Surely, we can get the drugs. This is America. We can do anything here. You've got a guy on the moon. You know what I mean?

KING: You certainly think you can feed someone.

BONO: Yes.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll be right back with Bono. It's a historic day around here -- don't go away.




KING: We're back with Bono. We want to talk about a lot of things. This is kind of a profile of Bono tonight, why he is the way he is, why he does what he does.

Was your childhood rough?

BONO: No, not really. The only thing I would -- you know, would have given (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of that was that I was living with my brother and my father.

KING: Your mother... BONO: My mother died when I was a kid. And...

KING: Well, what was that like?

BONO: Like a lot of people's experiences, actually. It's like you're in a house, but it's not a home -- that sort of thing. So -- but apart from that -- and then, I suppose I didn't have a great relationship with my father for a long time. He died last year. I kind of made peace with him before he died, but I wished I had put that right earlier.

KING: But he got to see you get where you got.

BONO: Yes.

KING: Were you a singer as a kid?

BONO: Yes. My father was a tenor, too, actually. He loved opera, and I guess I took after him. I wasn't trained or anything. It was a strange thing. You know, he loved music, and you know, his lasting regret was that he never played the piano or something. But we never played.

KING: You'd write music...

BONO: Yes.

KING: ... without knowing how to write down the notes?

BONO: I used to -- my earliest memory of waking up with a melody in my head was, you know, 8, 9, 10. I've always heard kind of melodies in my head. I remember standing under a piano at my grandmother's house, when the keys of the piano were higher than my head and kind of pressing down on the keys, and then hearing one note and then looking for another one to follow it, because you always -- you know, if you're a musician or if you're a songwriter, somehow when you hear one note, you hear another one.

KING: Do you now read notes?

BONO: Do I now read music? No, I'm not able.

KING: No. So, if you write something, someone has to write it down.

BONO: Yes. I mean, I think this -- if I wasn't in U2, I'd be in real trouble, because...

KING: Why?

BONO: Because they're an extraordinary band, and Edge is such a gifted guitar player. And they set those melodies into their respective place.

KING: So, what do you do? You come in and hum it for them? BONO: Well, I can write on a guitar or on a piano. I play very badly. And -- but I can get down melodies, and a lot of times, our work comes out of improvisation, and...

KING: Really? You just fool around like this?

BONO: The four of us, yes. That's how it works for us. And then just as Quincy Jones says, you're waiting for God to walk through the room sometimes.

KING: Collectively, have you always split 25 percent each?

BONO: Yes. Our band from the very beginning decided that ego normally breaks up bands.

KING: It sure does.

BONO: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) individual egos. So we have a collective one, and it's big.

KING: And what made U2 famous? What -- was there one record, one concert, one something?

BONO: I don't know what it is that we have. And there is...

KING: But there's...


BONO: There's a thing. Sparks go off when we play in a room.

We really -- there's a kind of magic. I remember bands that were much better than us at the time, you know, when we were kids.


BONO: Yes, technically (ph), they looked better. We used to have an expression. We used to say, "They have everything, but it." We had nothing, but it.

KING: But it.

BONO: And we sort of have figured out, you know, how to be rock stars.

KING: But there was no one big like a record that this one turned you through and the world knew about U2?

BONO: No. And...

KING: You just grew?

BONO: Nothing -- yes, we came here to the United States. We toured in a Winnebago. We did all of that stuff. In 1980, it was Christmas, there was snow everywhere, I remember. And we would play to crowds of, you know, up to 17 people. And... KING: Somebody had to see you, record you.

BONO: Yes, and we got a deal with Island Records, and we just slowly, old school, we played and we sold like salesmen, our songs, door-to-door...

KING: You went around?

BONO: ... in the United States. We went around, and you wouldn't get that break now. I met this guy, a songwriter around here, and his name was Josh. He's got some bright ideas. It would be very hard for him to get the kind of support that we've got now. Nowadays, you have to break on one record, or you're in the bin.

KING: But you were able to knock on the radio stations' door.

BONO: Yes, college radio really helped us.

KING: Really?

BONO: Yes, here in the United States, college radio played our music. You know, it wasn't so dominated by pop music as it is today.

KING: Why did you leave Ireland?

BONO: I've never left Ireland, really. You know, you come here, come to America -- I mean, for Irish people, America is kind of a promised land. I mean...

KING: The gold-paved thing is...

BONO: As in milk and honey, you know, and we've always had this feeling for this country. And the country, I think, has a feeling for our band.

KING: When you were playing for 17 people, did you ever think of giving it up?

BONO: No. Megalomania was...


BONO: ... at a very early age.

KING: You were?

BONO: Yes.

KING: You always thought you were good, right?

BONO: Yes.

KING: Right, you knew you were good?

BONO: No. Great.

KING: Great.

BONO: Great. We weren't very good. We were just great. Do you know what I'm saying? I mean -- what I mean is we weren't very good. We could hardly play. We had -- our songs didn't sound like anybody else's, because we couldn't play other people's songs, is the truth. But we had something about us that was great, not good.

KING: Another Irishman, the great Jackie Gleason told me once when I asked him if he had a way-out-of-sight ego. He said, "Oh, you've got to have it." I mean, I step on a stage, I look at a camera, and say I'm funny. That's an ego. You step on the stage, and you play and you're saying, listen to me, right?

BONO: Yes.

KING: You're saying, I'm good.

BONO: Yes. No, I'm saying, we're great.

KING: We're great.

BONO: I am saying we are great. I'm not saying I'm great. There's a difference...

KING: All right, how...

BONO: ... in a band, collective ego.

KING: How did you handle fame when it got to be famous?

BONO: Well, look at me. Obviously I'm not handling it that well. I'm here talking to you and am wearing blue shades (ph), and ...

KING: You're hiding.

BONO: I'm hiding.

KING: No, what...

BONO: It's the fine art of insincerity, Larry.

KING: And if you can think that, you've got it made.

BONO: That's it.

KING: Why -- how did you handle money and fame and all the things that goes with it? Well or not well?

BONO: I don't know. Ireland has a very different attitude to success than a lot of places, certainly than over here in the United States. In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I'm going to get that bastard. It's a different mind-set. KING: I'll say.

BONO: What I'm saying is, people -- there's no room for that kind of stuff. If you've got -- you have to be -- if you're funny, that's OK. If you're -- you know, but if you carry yourself -- you know, if you walk down the street of Ireland with your head up your ass, they won't let you in, you know, perhaps.

KING: You can't beg your way in.

We'll be right back with more of Bono on this World AIDS Day. Lots to talk about -- don't go away.




KING: We're back with Bono and lots of things to talk about.

How do you explain an enduring marriage in a world of rock, where temptation must be rampant?

BONO: Wow! Rampant temptation.

KING: Rampant temptation.

BONO: Some of my favorite words. I happened to meet -- I have a great mate. You know, I have a great friend in Allie. And you know, I like being in her company, and...

KING: So, you've never -- you've never been tempted away, and it's kept it together and children and...

BONO: No, I'm tempted all of the time, like about half-an-hour ago. Aren't you?

KING: Yes, but what -- but I put it away. But where do you put it?

BONO: Well, if you don't know that by now...


BONO: How many kids do you have, Larry King?

KING: I have three grown and two infants.

BONO: You exercise restraint. That's what you do.

KING: Yes, you do.

BONO: And you know, that's it, but I mean, I'm just -- I'm in love.

KING: How old are your kids now?

BONO: I've got a 13-year-old, an 11-year-old, which are girls, Jordan and Eve. And I have two boys, Eli, who is 3-and-a-half, and John that's 1-and-a-half.

KING: I have a 3-and-a-half and a 2-and-a-half. There's nothing like little boys and little girls -- nothing like children.

BONO: Are yours boys?

KING: Yes, two boys. I've got two grown boys and a grown daughter, and two little baby boys.

BONO: I bet you my boys are tougher than yours.

KING: I'm Jewish -- bet my boys are smarter.


KING: What has having children done to or for you?

BONO: Well, people, I think, probably felt that having children would chill me out, but rather the opposite. It's made me a lot more interested in the world, the way it is shaped and formed, the world that they're about to enter into. And it made me more interested in politics for that reason. And I'm less patient with the process of politics and in sort of correcting the mistakes we've made over the last years in the world. And in all, it's made me a pain in the ass.

KING: Because they showed you?

BONO: It's just -- you know, you understand when a child is born and you're watching the child born and you have all of these feelings as a man of -- you know, for me, I've kind of -- I just felt completely -- I was reduced to, you know, to nothing. And I didn't know what to do, you know, somebody that I love is in pain, and who do I have to slap, you know? And you know, that's the doctor and the nurses. They're on your side. And so, as a male, I think it's very confusing.

But then you understand from the feelings that you have for your children, you understand actually why wars are fought. You understand all of these terrible things. It brings -- it's not all wine and roses, you know. It's -- there's an acrid and bitter part, I think, to -- for me, when you realize that you -- you know, and I'm a -- I was a complete and utter pacifist, until I had children and realized that if somebody tried to take them out of my hands.

And that other side of me, the side of me that makes me attracted to people like Dr. Martin Luther King -- the side of me that writes songs like "Pride (In the Name of Love)," because I've looked up to people like him is the one that has a rage and an anger.

KING: Does that...

BONO: That's why I'm writing those songs... (CROSSTALK)

KING: Does that rage make you want to strike out as well?

BONO: Yes, I am. I'm -- I cannot live up to the songs that I write and that we play in U2. I'd like to say that straight up, and I want to...

KING: You can't live up to them?

BONO: No, I'm not like that as a person. That's why I'm writing those songs. That's what I aspire to be. I'm much more likely to be physical, and I've had to control my physicality, you know.

KING: You mean, your instinct is to punch.

BONO: That's who I am, yes.

KING: Yet, you're known as a man of peace.

BONO: Yes.

KING: Wow! You're really holding it in, then, or letting it out through...

BONO: Well, you know, I'm just -- yes. That's right. And maybe that's OK. I think it's OK to -- it's not OK to give into this side of yourself.

KING: I mean, you've got to say to yourself, what about conflict? I never saw -- I never saw a 2-year-old evil kid. What would make...

BONO: You haven't met my kid.

KING: What makes a kid get evil? What makes a man...

BONO: What makes man evil?

KING: Yes.

BONO: I think -- I mean, if you ask a big question like that, and you have to look into -- you have to be responsible and to follow those questions through to the people and study the people who have asked them over eons, over centuries. And you get to the great books of wisdom, and you get to the scriptures, in my case. And you know, I've -- listen, I am the worst -- I am at the very bottom of the list of the food chain of -- you know, I sort of need to practice a whole lot more Christian. But...


KING: ... Christian.

BONO: That's what I hold onto. KING: Right back with Bono. It's World AIDS Day. He's starting a national in the heartland talking tour with the Judds -- don't go away.




KING: We're back with Bono.

You mentioned being Christian, and...

BONO: Trying to be.

KING: ... trying to be. Are you -- do you like organized religion? Are you a Catholic? Do you go to mass?

BONO: Who in Ireland could have too much respect for organized religion? We've seen it tear our country in two. My mother was a Protestant. My father was a Catholic. And I learned that religion is often the enemy of God, actually.

And religion is this sort of -- religion is the artifice, you know, the building, after God has left it sometimes, like Elvis has left the building. You hold onto religion, you know, rules, regulations, traditions. I think what God is interested in is people's hearts, and that's hard enough.

KING: So, especially in Ireland, you've seen it fail.

BONO: Yes, yes. And now, we're watching it around the world. We're watching what religion can do. And you know, I think it's anathema, and see -- religion takes ideas. Religion often reduces the size of God. God is so big. It's a gigantic concept in God. The idea that God might love us and be interested in us is kind of huge and gigantic, but we turn it, because we're small-minded, into this tiny, petty, often greedy version of God, that is religion.

KING: And so, we raise money in his name and go to war in his name.

BONO: Yes.

KING: If there is a God, he must be angry at a lot of this.

BONO: I think God is very angry at the moment, and I think there is -- I think it's shocking what is going on in the world. And I think it is an extraordinary moment.

Right now, I can tell you this. Our age will be remembered. This moment in time will be remembered for three things: the war against terror, sure; the Internet, probably; and how we let an entire continent, Africa, burst into flames and stood around with water in cans. This is not acceptable. It is not acceptable to let people die because they can't get the drugs that you and I take for granted. That means -- you have to ask very hard questions of ourselves if we're doing that.

KING: Why did we? For example, we would -- that wouldn't have happened in Europe. We wouldn't have let it happen in Europe.

BONO: Correct.

KING: OK. So, is it racial?

BONO: I think there's an element that people have written off in Africa.

KING: They're black.

BONO: And it's not even that they're black. I think deep down, if we really believe in equality, we would go to side of our brothers and sisters in Africa. What I would say is we don't really believe in equality. And -- I mean, equality is evolving, you know.

The idea that black people could vote here in the United States is relatively new, but women -- you know, it's like -- equality is like a pain in the ass if you think about it. It's like, you know, you think of these Jewish sheep herders walking in, in front of pharaohs, you know, with on their shoes, and the pharaoh is going, "You think you're equal to me?" And he looks in the book, and he goes, "Yes, that's what it says. All of us are created equal in God's image. That's what it says here." And it's like you're mad, you're out of your mind.

Well, it's true, and it's true, and we accept that now between our own borders. We accept that women and Jews and blacks and Irish are equal and have equal opportunities, but we don't really believe that for the rest of the world, because if we do, we would not be letting two-and-a-half million Africans die next year.

KING: There's no reason anyone in the world should be hungry, right?

BONO: Right.

KING: The means are there to...

BONO: That's right.

KING: ... produce it and deliver it.

BONO: That's right.

KING: How did you get Paul O'Neill to do that trip with you?

BONO: Oh, he asked me, actually. Secretary O'Neill is a tough guy, and...

KING: He's Irish. BONO: He is. He has that in him. And we had many laughs together, we had many rows, and I like him very much. He's no nonsense, and...

KING: You opened his eyes, did you not?

BONO: No, I tell you, we both learned...

KING: Wasn't he...


BONO: We both learned. I had been -- he had worked in Africa, but I had been out in Africa and seen another side to it. But he was also trying to open my eyes, too, stuff, the past, you know, the reasons why Americans are in the list of 22 of the richest countries of the world, the United States is at the bottom of the pile as a percentage of national income for what it gives to the poorest people on earth. I don't know if you know that.

But the reason is not because Americans are not generous. It's not because Americans would not come to the aid of these people. It's because over the years, a lot of this money was wasted, not necessarily by the Africans, but was spent on, you know, on propping up dictators, crack despots like Mobutu, who put money in their Swiss bank accounts. And eventually, people just said to their politicians, "Stop wasting our money."

KING: Foreign aid became a bad sound.

BONO: It became a bad word, and we have to -- you know, we have to stop using that word. We should start talking about it as an investment now.

KING: That would help.

BONO: Investment in the future. Help is a good word. And I know if Americans understand that their money is going to be spent well, they are ready to step up to the plate.

KING: Back with more of Bono -- don't go away.


BONO: There are still kids learning under trees. Worse than that, these kids come, they miss their lunch, OK? It would cost, I think it's $1 for per term to get those kids a lunch, something to eat in the day. They're not eating. They can't afford to eat. They're going hungry to learn.



KING: We're back with Bono -- a lot of other bases to cover, so we'll kind of rifle our way through them. I don't know if many of our viewers have ever been with a child who is dying, starving, dying through no fault -- not a disease -- dying. What is that like? How do you deal with that? How do you emotionally deal with that?

BONO: It's a very hard thing to get your hand around. I remember having a child in my hand that was about 2-and-a-half inches long, an African child. It was white as snow, and they said they thought they could keep the child alive, believe it or not. And I kept in touch even when I came home, and actually that child is walking around healthy now. It's an amazing thing what medicines can do. That's the good news on this AIDS emergency.

It is -- this is -- it's going to define the way the world is seen by history books is the way we deal with this problem. There's no doubt about it. Now, we can get the medicines to the people. And right now for the United States, in a way, where -- let's face it, there is a crisis about the way the United States is perceived in the rest of the world.

KING: Obviously.

BONO: These are advertisements, these drugs, for the United States creativity, innovations. These pharmaceuticals are red, white and blue, and if you get them into towns and villages in Africa, which is 40 percent Muslim, and you're saving lives of sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, they will run these extremists out of town.

KING: What did you talk to the pope about?

BONO: You know, the pope was great on the debt issue, you know, because we're still holding these countries to ransom a lot of times for the mistakes their grandparents made -- you know, borrowings that they couldn't live up to. But a lot of the lending was irresponsible as well.

Anyway, he wanted to get a part of that, and you know, it made a great photograph, you know, pop star and pope. And he's quite a pop star himself, actually.

KING: He is.

BONO: Yes, he...

KING: He's a pop star pope.

BONO: Yes, yes, he grabbed my glasses...

KING: But you're a man of doubting faith, who is a Catholic, with the seer of your church.

BONO: I'm half Catholic and half -- I mean, I'm not doubting. I don't doubt God. I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting. I was very glad to be in his presence. A lot of Irish people -- a lot of Irish women were very upset because of his position on contraception. KING: Yes.

BONO: What are you doing hanging out with this man? We don't care. He set back the church. I actually -- but I didn't feel that. I felt he has very sincere beliefs. And even if they're not popular, at least they're sincere.

And he had a mischief, by the way, a little bit of a wicked glint in his eye. I just had to tell you. He took my glasses. I gave him my glasses, and he put them on and made this kind of devilish little grin. And there were photographs taken of that, actually, but we've -- oddly enough, they never got out.

KING: Where was Bono on 9/11?

BONO: I was in Italy. I was in Venice, and...

KING: Singing?

BONO: No, no, I was on a week with my little boy, Elijah. It was just the two of us hanging out.

KING: You took him just for a week?

BONO: Yes.

KING: How did you get the news?

BONO: I got lost in this sort of labyrinth of little roads and laneways in Venice and canals obviously. And I found -- I just saw a sign up saying, "the American hotel" and I thought, well, they'll speak English. So, I went in there, and that's when it was on the TV, and there were a lot of Americans sort of just shell-shocked.

KING: And you?

BONO: The same. I mean, you immediately think of your friends in New York. I have a place in New York here. This is a second city for me. And I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

KING: And then you got involved in it, right? You did a tour dealing with 9/11.

BONO: I didn't do a tour. We just did...


KING: You had the names...

BONO: We kept up business as usual. We listened to Mayor Giuliani.

KING: Rudy Giuliani.

BONO: You know, when he said, please keep coming here. And lot of people had canceled their tours, and U2 had said, "We're not canceling, we're coming." And we tried to make...

KING: But you added it?

BONO: Yes, we tried to make a sort of testament to the lives that were lost by projecting on our screens the names of people.

KING: Yes.

BONO: And -- because they're not statistics; they were people. And that was our point. And people, you know, would be sitting in the crowd, especially when we played at Madison Square Garden, the people, you know, knew the names (UNINTELLIGIBLE), something that I'll never forget.

KING: Did the anger in you want to go get a guy like Saddam?

BONO: When I tell people that the war against terror is bound up with the war against poverty, they'll look at me and say, "What do you mean?" And I say, 'I didn't say that; Colin Powell said that.' And military men, oddly enough, are the ones that realize that this is a war that cannot be won just by military means alone.

So, the work that I am talking to you about on World AIDS Day and trying to get a historic initiative led by the United States with a president, who I believe has a feel for this, and a Congress that has a bipartisan interest in this, that is part of this discussion. I really want to convince you of that. I want to convince Americans of that. This is important. The way the world sees the United States is important.

My father loved America, and he just looked up to America. Irish people think they are American, and the reason is largely the war. The Second World War, the United States liberated Europe, but not only did they do that, they helped rebuild it with the Marshall Plan, et cetera. This is what we need, this kind of imagination.

America is not just a country; it's an idea. You have to defend the idea as well as the country, and that idea is being attacked.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bono, the first of what we hope will be many visits -- don't go away.




KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Bono on this World AIDS Day.

Do you -- are you still, first and foremost, a singer...

BONO: Yes.

KING: ... with a band? BONO: Yes.

KING: And the other things are things you do...

BONO: Yes.

KING: ... but you still love being on stage, watching them scream.

BONO: Yes, and screaming, and I don't want to be doing this other job, is the truth. It is just -- it's an accident of fate that I ended up in this place. I think I'm much better being in a band, you know, but ideas and melodies -- great ideas and great melodies have a lot in common, you know? There is a certain clarity, a certain inevitability. And so, I'm attracted to a great idea.

KING: What keeps the band going? I mean, your band -- if I could compare bands in the pop world to your band, it would have been Count Basie. The band is going somewhere. I mean, you know, it begins and it goes somewhere. Frank Sinatra used to say that, the band is going -- you sang with Frank...

BONO: I did.

KING: ... on "Duets."

BONO: I know. I got to know Frank, and...

KING: Spoke for him when he got his special award at the Grammys.

BONO: That's right. Yes. Our band is going somewhere, a band with a lot of patience. They're putting up with me. This is very uncool, very unhip work that I'm doing. But our audience, the U2 audience know that we're on to something. This is -- you know, if the tunes aren't there, you know, if there are no great songs, the first -- then it's no good. I mean, the first responsibility of a rock 'n' roll star is not to be dull. I might be pushing that right now, because I am forming -- you know what I mean, I am pushing that envelope, but I am sure that we're right, and I'm sure that history is on our side in this argument.

KING: How long can a band last when the audience generally is young? Can a band -- can a rock band be in their 60s?

BONO: I don't know. I just -- I don't know if I want to be in a rock band in my 60s. My attitude is two crap albums in a row and you're out. So, I mean, I don't know long we'll go.


BONO: But I'll tell you one thing, it's much harder to be relevant than it is to be successful.

KING: Really? BONO: Yes. I think -- you know, I don't think -- I think U2 has a prosperous life ahead of itself, but I don't -- that's not enough for me, unless we're making music that's relevant. And by relevant, I mean that it's at the center of what's going on in some way.

KING: Of the four of you, are you all still, in a sense, boys? Are you still back in school?

BONO: I suppose if we were on our own in a room, we're still the...

KING: Look at the memories...

BONO: ... four of us that were in the garage playing, yes.

KING: Look at all of the memories you've had. Is it still a kick to go on stage -- let's say you're doing a musical tour, right? So, it's Minneapolis, and the next night, it's Philadelphia. And you come on stage in Philadelphia, and you're doing what you did in Minneapolis, is it still just as exciting?

BONO: It is a strange thing. But in order to be able to perform the U2 songs, it's actually impossible for me. A lot of the notes are too high for me to sing, you know. So, I actually have to climb into them. I have to really step inside those songs.

KING: You write hard songs for yourself.

BONO: Yes. In order to -- and so, I can't -- if I could find a way of taking it easier, I would, but I can't. So, I have to -- every night has to feel like the last night for me. That's just the way -- it's the way our band is designed.

KING: Do you ever have a bad night?

BONO: Oh, yes. We're very erratic and always...

KING: Really?

BONO: Less so now, but when we were originally trying to get our record deal, as I was saying to you earlier, you know, we could be really, really awful. In fact, there were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) men from record companies who were fired for trying to sign U2, we were so bad. You know, they would come along, they'd see one of the greatest gigs they have ever seen, maybe 16, 17, then they'd ring their boss, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: So, you still might have a bad night. Is it true that now, though, you're so famous your audience wouldn't know it? You'd know it, but they wouldn't.

BONO: No, because I -- if I'm having a bad time, I let people know, and...

KING: You do?

BONO: Yes.

KING: By what, telling them?

BONO: Yes.

KING: You'd say what, I'm not myself?

BONO: 'Do you want your money back?' Something like that.

KING: You've said that.

BONO: I have said that. I've been advised not to. But I do think it's important that people -- concerts are expensive. CDs are expensive, if you're buying them from shops. And I think that's -- that is the deal, OK? The deal is you don't worry about your kids' education or you don't worry about, you know, your mortgage and you don't worry about all of the things we're worrying about. But in return, you just have to give us everything you've got in terms of your gift. And we haven't broken that deal yet. You might not have liked all of our music, we might have pushed out the limits of taste on occasion or, you know, that we've done some stupid things like, you know...

KING: But you always owe them your best.

BONO: But we certainly have given -- we're given what we've got.

KING: You've given us that tonight.

BONO: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, Bono.

BONO: All right.

KING: Bono on this World AIDS Day is speaking to us -- start soon. We thank him very much for joining us. We'll be back again tomorrow night.

For the whole crew here in Los Angeles, and for the man, good night.



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