Bono reveals he has a half-brother from father’s affair

Bono reveals he has a half-brother from father’s affair
The U2 frontman said the affair produced 'another brother whom I love and adore that I didn’t know I didn’t have — or maybe I did'. Photo: Getty Images

U2 frontman Bono has revealed he has a half-brother he did not know about until he was an adult.

The Irish singer told BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs that he discovered in 2000 that his father Bob Hewson had an extramarital affair with a woman “who was part of the family”.

He said this affair produced “another brother whom I love and adore that I didn’t know I had — or maybe I did.”

In the interview with Lauren Laverne, which will air on Sunday, Bono said the affair and his half-brother were kept a secret from his mother, who died when he was 14, and the rest of the family. “Nobody knew,” he said.


The singer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, said he had a “complicated relationship” growing up with his father, who died in 2001, but he has since made peace with the situation.

“My father was obviously going through a lot. But partly his head was elsewhere because his heart was elsewhere. So I think that was part of the problem I was probably picking up as a kid,” he said during the 40-minute interview.

“It’s a very close family, and I could tell that my father had a deep friendship with this gorgeous woman who was part of the family and then they had a child, and this was all kept secret.”

Bono said he talked to his father about the affair before his death, in August 2001, from cancer.


“I asked him did he love my mother, and he said yes. I said: ‘How could this happen?’ He said ‘It can’ and that he was trying to put it right. He was trying to do the right thing.

“He wasn’t apologising. He was just stating these are the facts, and I’m at peace with it,” he said.

The singer said he apologised to his father after his death during a visit to a chapel in France. “There was nobody there. I lit a candle and I got on my knees and I just said, ‘Look, I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. You went through a lot, and please forgive me.’ And I felt free.”

U2 tensions

The star, known for campaigning against poverty and supporting those with HIV/Aids, also spoke about how his activism caused tensions within U2.


He said: “It was very difficult for the band to see me in certain company, it was excruciating for them, but they gave me their blessing.

“They believed it was the right thing to do if we could get certain things across the line.”

In the programme, during which stars choose eight tracks, a book and a luxury item to take with them to a desert island, the singer spoke about the first U2 performance and defended the decision to move some of the band’s business activities to the Netherland.

The programme was recorded before Laverne’s mother Celia died on Friday.

Desert Island Discs will be on Radio 4 at 11.15am on Sunday and on BBC Sounds.

-Additional reporting by Press Association.