Why Did People Start Calling The U2 Singer ‘Paul Hewson’ Bono?


Originally, Paul David Hewson had the ridiculous nickname, “Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang.” No joke. Luckily, he later got the nickname Bono, to go along with his siblings and peer nicknames like Chunk, Mouth, and Sloth.

Bonovox | Photo Credit Newsweek

Hewson got his nickname after a double-tragedy. At the age of 14, his father died. While attending the funeral of his father, his mother suffered from a brain hemorrhage and died soon after.

Because of his loss, he needed a new identity, which he found in an unusual place.

Bono Comes From Latin Term, “Good Voice”

Bonovox | Photo Credit IFC

In the middle of Dublin, there was a hearing aid store called Bonavox. Hewson’s nickname soon because “Bonavox of O’Connell Street.” A childhood friend named Derek “Guggi” Rowan later shortened the nickname. Eventually, Hewson became known as “Bonavox” or “Bono Vox.” The cockeyed Latin stands for “good voice.” As the nickname got shorter and shorter, the final name “Bono” seemed fitting for the future musician.

Now, of course, we simply know the lead-singer of U2 as “Bono.”

The Formation Of The Band U2

U2 | Photo Credit RTE

Not long after Bono became Bono, the band U2 formed in Dublin in 1976. Bonovox performed lead vocals and rhythm guitar. The Edge got on lead guitar, backing vocals, and keyboards. Adam Clay was bass guitar and Larry Mullen Jr. was on drums and percussion.

The band started as post-punk but evolved over the years. The emphasis of the band still falls on Bono’s vocals and the Edge’s effects-based guitar. As for the lyrics, they are general spiritual in imagery and focus on sociopolitical themes.

They got together as teenagers at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School and signed with Island Records four years later. Their debut album hit shelves in 1980 under the name, Boy. Their first No. 1 album was War, which had the hit song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).” These two songs truly established the band’s reputation for political and social consciousness.

By the mid-1980s, the group’s live act Live Aid officially put them on the map.

Did you know this original story about Bono and U2?