Bono Says The Edge Almost Convinced Him To Disband U2
U2 frontman Bono recently sat down for an interview with Billboard and recalled how U2 came back from the verge of disbandment due to bandmate the Edge’s spiritual crisis.
Even though U2 was never officially a religious band, the band’s religious history is widely known. When U2 initially came together, Bono, the Edge, and Larry Mullen Jr. were all active members of an evangelical Christian congregation, which is a movement within Protestant Christianity.
It is known that the band had various reservations about their music due to the uneasy relationship between religion and rock. However, as time passed, they succeeded in incorporating some religious elements into their music, especially their lyrics. Even though U2’s lyrics frequently express their faith, they have managed to avoid being labeled as a Christian band.
Although they ultimately found a balance within the conflicting relationship between rock and religion, the Edge’s spiritual crisis once nearly caused the end of U2. The events took place while the Edge and Bono were attending a non-denominational school together. He explained that there, they met a group called the ‘first-century radical Christians’ who were very strict in their beliefs, and over time, the group pressured them to stop making music.
After some time the Edge said he couldn’t deal with these conflicts anymore and Bono agreed with his friend. Ultimately, they went to their manager Paul McGuinness and told him that God didn’t want them to continue making music. Their manager was shocked to hear this and reminded them of their legal obligations since they had signed a contract.
Thus, the band decided to continue working on their music, but the Edge still hadn’t resolved his issues internally. After a while, he started writing ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ a song he thought would fix the problem. The track became the opening song of the band’s 1983 album ‘War,’ which was later described by fans as a mad album and is also known as their first overtly political and religious album.
Bono added that the only reason their record producer Chris Blackwell didn’t fire them after making that album was that he was used to dealing with Bob Marley, who also wanted to sing to God and protest the world. In a way, the Edge tried to do the same thing in this song. He overcame his spiritual crisis after writing and releasing that track, and that period became one of the band’s turning points.
Here is how Bono recalled the story of The Edge’s spiritual crisis:
“We meet this —I suppose you call them first-century radical Christians, kind of punks. And you know, they didn’t need many material things. They were very strict in that sense. And we first thought they accepted us for being who we were. After a while, they started to get in on us. ‘Maybe this music thing is — you should just put that down. And if the world is broken, really, and it’s really broken. And if you want to be part of the fixing of it, maybe music is something you should just put away and sing these praise songs.’
The Edge rings me up and says, ‘I don’t think I can resolve this.’ I said, ‘Well, yes, I’m having some problems with this, too. I want to be useful. I want to be useful in my life, and I want to be useful to the world. The world is, you know, f*ck.’ We go and tell him that it was all over.
So, he was sitting there, and we walked in, and Paul said, ‘So, you’ve been speaking to God?’ And we’re like, ‘Yeah. Yeah.’ ‘And God has told you that you don’t want to be in the band? Like, you want to break up the band?’ ‘Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.’ ‘Okay. So you’ve been speaking to God, and how’s God on legal contracts? Because I’ve signed a legal contract here.’ And we were, just completely, ‘Oh, maybe we didn’t hear that right.’
That’s the reason why Chris Blackwell didn’t throw us off Island Records because we’d made a mad religious album. It wasn’t mad at all, but people were calling it mad. It’s because he said he was used to dealing with Bob Marley and Bob Marley wanted to sing to God. Bob Marley wanted to sing to girls. Bob Marley wanted to sing to the world around him and protest it. So there it was, a three-cord strand that became U2, and that started with Edge on ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.'”
You can check out ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ on Youtube below.