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The Man who wants to kill Bono - Belfast Telegraph - March 8


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Neil McCormick explains why he holds a grudge against U2’s frontman

When self-confessed rock star failure Neil McCormick put pen to paper for his 2003 memoir Killing Bono, little did he realise how his tales of living in the U2 frontman’s shadow would click with fans of the Irish supergroup.

As a former schoolmate of Bono — real name Paul Hewson — McCormick was perhaps better poised to recount the trials and tribulations of the singer than many rock writers.

The pair grew up in a Dublin with a burgeoning late-70s punk scene, but while Bono went on to attain rock god status, McCormick found his efforts in bands such as Frankie Corpse and the Undertakers, and Yeah! Yeah! were to come to naught.

“One reason that Bono made it is he was lucky,†says the chirpy and not-at-all-embittered-sounding Neil.

“There are three things you need to have a good chance of making it. One is an abundance of talent, and Bono certainly has that. He was a charismatic character in school and he's always been a hero to me.

“The next is luck, in meeting the right people, in being in the right band. The public chooses who it wants, you don't impose yourself on them, so you've got to be in the right place at the right time.

“And there's persistence — you stick with it until that combination of talent and luck pays off. I don't know where I went wrong; maybe it was the talent, certainly I didn't have the luck and 13 years demonstrates I had some persistence, so maybe if I had stuck it out for 14 years the world would finally have recognised my genius!â€

Bono's legendary sense of drive and purpose — so evident in his campaigning work and his musical performances — was also a crucial factor, Neil says.

“It comes from not a very good place,†he adds.

“His mother died when he was 13 and it's amazing how many of our greatest stars have that kind of maternal or paternal loss in their background; it's quite shocking. For him, music was a way of filling himself up, and for me maybe it was just something I was doing.â€

The title of the book itself may be stark in its message (and one might think the subject of a restraining order) but for Neil it was more about laying old ghosts to rest than hitting out at his more successful childhood friend.

“Bono came up with that title!†he laughs.

“It was called I Was Bono's Doppelganger, but when the book came out in the US they were perplexed by the word ‘doppelganger’. I had to come up with a new title. That was something Bono had suggested to me quite early on. I called him when I was writing the book. He read it and said “You should call it Killing Bono, like slaying your dragonsâ€. He used to ring me up and leave messages on my phone saying “Neil, it's Bono, you have to kill meâ€.

“I was worried that someone might take me seriously, though!â€

“He's not down-to-earth, he's got a big head, and he's got a big heart and he's a big guy who is doing an amazing thing out there,†he says. “I find it quite sickening that people give him stick.

There's no rock star or celebrity in the world who gives more of himself to help other people, and he has made a profound difference.

“Millions of people are alive in the Third World because of the intervention of him and others who give a hell of a lot of time. We can argue about whether that's irritating or not, but nobody cares about ‘irritating’ when they're dying of hunger.â€

With music such a big part of his life, he wonders now if he has become trapped in what he calls “the obsession of my adolescenceâ€, something which was no doubt given a surreal edge by meeting his ‘younger self’ during the filming of Killing Bono in Belfast just last month.

“I had to shoot a scene where I got a cameo as a rather sad old Irishman in an illegal strip club watching my younger self play on stage,†he recalls.

Neil McCormick — 'Is There Too Much Music', Ulster Museum, this Wednesday 7.30pm. Some tickets still available


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still searching the book... seems it wasnt published in dutch?! hope i get to see the movie over here.

like the part bout the big head/big heart/big guy.... none of the 3 remarks is to be taken literally i guess?

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End of the World is just a fantastic book! Can't recommend it highly enough! Don't think it will ever become a film, not if Larry has anything to say about it, would be a great film though.

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