Michael Stallard told me this story of the band U2. From the beginning U2 has maintained a mantra of “music can change the world because it can change people.” The strength of the band’s identity and commitment to each other has driven its success. When the band’s members suffered one personal challenge after another, the band slowed down its touring and took a break to support one another.
In 1987 the leader of the band, Bono, was threatened with death if U2 played their song “Pride,” a tribute to Reverend Martin Luther King, at a concert in Arizona. Bono recalled that, as he entered the third verse—“Early morning, April 4; a shot rings out in the Memphis sky”—he closed his eyes, not knowing what would happen. He described what followed:
Some people want to kill us. Some people are taken very seriously by the FBI. They tell the singer that he shouldn’t play the gig because tonight his life is at risk, and he must not go on stage. And the singer laughs. Of course we’re playing the gig. Of course we go onstage, and I’m singing “Pride (In the Name of Love)”—the third verse—and I close my eyes. And you know, I’m excited about meeting my maker, but maybe not tonight. I don’t really want to meet my maker tonight. I close my eyes and when I look up I see Adam Clayton standing in front of me, holding his bass as only Adam Clayton can hold his bass. There are people in this room who’d tell you they’d take a bullet for you, but Adam Clayton would have taken a bullet for me. I guess that’s what it’s like to be in a truly great rock and roll band.