Bono Won’t Say What Almost Killed Him

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Edun co-founder Bono smiles backstage at the Edun Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Skylight West on February 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

This late December morning brings the spectacular 10,000-word text of a new Bono interview, in which the U2 frontman engages Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in a discursive discussion of faith, artistry, love, politics, chart success, and the supposed Biblical origins of the blues. It seems Bono’s life is full of sublime mysteries, not least the big one hinted at in the interview’s subheadline: “U2’s frontman on the state of his band, the state of the world and what he learned from almost dying.”

Hold up—Bono almost died? Yes, according to Bono, but he declined to reveal the cause of what he called an “extinction event,” saying he’d prefer to spare himself from speculation:

It’s just a thing that . . . people have these extinction events in their lives; it could be psychological or it could be physical. And, yes, it was physical for me, but I think I have spared myself all that soap opera. Especially with this kind of celebrity obsession with the minutiae of peoples’ lives – I have got out of that. I want to speak about the issue in a way that lets people fill in the blanks of what they have been through, you know?

It’s one thing if you were talking about it in a place of record like Rolling Stone, but by the time it gets to your local tabloid it is just awful. It becomes the question that everyone is asking.

The health scare did contribute to the theme of mortality explored on U2’s new album Songs of Experience, Bono said. Later in the interview, he offered an additional rationale for not elaborating on the details:

But, you know, people have had so much worse to deal with, so that is another reason not to talk about it. You demean all the people who, you know, never made it through that or couldn’t get health care!

Fair enough, then. Bono nearly died, but he’d prefer if you just tried to understand his emotional truth and also buy his band’s album, which is a very Bono sentiment indeed. Best of health in the new year, everyone. Read the full Rolling Stone Bono interview (yes, it’s really 10,000 words) here.


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