U2’s Bono opens up in new memoir about losing his mother

U2 frontman Bono has opened up about the death of his mother in his forthcoming memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

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The 576-page volume is due to land on November 1 via publishing house Alfred A. Knopf (and in audiobook form via Penguin Random House) – and, as its title implies, will explore the origins of 40 key songs in U2’s discography. Each chapter is named for the song it covers, with Bono’s life story weaved throughout the book.

In a new extract published in the New Yorker, Bono opened up about the death of his mother Iris when he was 14 years old after she collapsed at the funeral of her father, “Gags” Rankin, in 1974. Bono recalled how she was “never spoken of again” by his father Bob and older brother Norman.


He added: “I fear it was worse than that. That we rarely thought of her again. We were three Irish men, and we avoided the pain that we knew would come from thinking and speaking about her. Even though it’s Grandda’s funeral, and even though Iris has fainted, we’re kids, cousins, running around and laughing. Until Ruth, my mother’s younger sister, bursts through the door. ‘Iris is dying. She’s had a stroke.’

U2 singer Bono takes part in the festive launch of the Scholas Occurrentes International Movement held by Pope Francis at the Pontifical Urban University on May 19, 2022 in Vatican City. CREDIT Franco Origlia/Getty Images

“Three days later Norman and I are brought into the hospital to say goodbye. She’s alive but barely… Ruth is outside the hospital room, wailing, with my father, whose eyes have less life in them than my mother’s. I enter the room at war with the universe, but Iris looks peaceful. It’s hard to figure that a large part of her has already left. We hold her hand. There’s a clicking sound, but we don’t hear it.”

Bono previously shared an early taste of Surrender in the form of a narrated animation of ‘Out Of Control’, detailing the Ramones-inspired genesis of U2’s titular ’79 single. Pre-orders for Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story are available now here.

Meanwhile, U2 will reportedly be the first act to perform at the new MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada when the arena opens next year.