Don’t worry, this isn’t a roofie story. Paul David Hewson, aka Bono of U2, just released his memoir on Tuesday. And within the pages of his memoir is a little story about waking up in the White House Lincoln Bedroom after drinking with former President Barack Obama.
Bono Fell Asleep While Drinking With President Obama
In Surrender, the rock star talks about his philosophies and thoughts through the stories of 40 songs. He weaves in memories of encounters with people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Obama. Bono has been known to hang out with Obama on multiple occasions. But in this one particular story, Bono ended up in bed— with Abraham Lincoln.
As it turns out, Bono has an allergy to salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is found in all sorts of medications, like Aspirin. It’s also present in some foods like tea, rum, beer, and wine. Bono told Zoe Ball of BBC that it causes his “head to swell up like a balloon” or makes him fall asleep.
Bono recalls drinking one, possibly two glasses of wine as well as cocktails, which Obama had mixed. He and his wife, Ali, were having dinner with the former president.
“The 44th president of the United States, he mixes cocktails; he doesn’t have too many, he’s very measured,” Bono told Ball.
Obama Was Perplexed, Worried
Next thing he knew, he was falling asleep at the table.
“As I started to fall asleep,” he wrote, “I excused myself, and what happened next is a little blurry, but, according to Ali, it took about ten minutes before the leader of the free world asked her, ‘Bono’s been gone awhile. Is he okay?'”
Bono elaborated to BBC that his wife told Obama, “He’s just gone for a sleep.” And to that, Obama replied, “I’m sorry?”
Ali Hewson then assured Obama that things were fine. Bono told BBC that she said, “He has to, he just has to go for these sleeps, he’ll be back in 10 minutes. I’ve been with him for 30 years, don’t you worry a thing about him, Mr. President. I’ll go find him.”
But Obama wouldn’t have it. He was saying, “No, no, no,” and accompanied Ali on the search. That’s when Obama remembered that Bono had asked him about the Gettysburg Address.
The Gettysburg Address is Abraham Lincoln’s famous 271-word speech from November 19, 1863. It happens to be kept in the Lincoln Bedroom on the second floor of the White House. Obama decided to look there for Bono, thinking perhaps he was looking at the speech.
Low and behold, they did find Bono in the Lincoln Bedroom. However, he wasn’t admiring the Gettysburg Address.
“Good instinct,” Bono wrote of Obama’s detective work. “They walked into the Lincoln Bedroom, and there I was, out cold, head in the bosom of Abraham Lincoln, on his very bed. ‘Falling asleep in the comfort of our freedoms,’ as I spun it afterward.”
Bono told BBC that Obama “just woke me up and laughed. President laughed his head off.”
Obama Doesn’t Believe Bono Has an Allergy to Salicylic Acid
Bono added that Obama doesn’t “for a minute” believe that he has a salicylic acid allergy.
“He thinks Ali made this up to cover for me,” Bono wrote. “He tells people he can drink me under the table. Rubbish. But he does make a strong martini.”
Surprisingly, Bono admits that this wasn’t a lone incident. He told BBC, “I’ve fallen asleep in really awkward spots; the lighting desk of Sonic Youth – they mixed around me and couldn’t be nicer… I’ve slept on the street, on car bonnets and indeed I did fall asleep at the White House and they were very, very good about it actually.”
Sony and U2’s Legacy
The Irish-born U2 frontman was born in 1960. At 62 years old, he’s had quite the journey. He married his wife, Alison Stewart, in 1982 and has four children with her. Further, Bono is not just the lead singer for one of the most popular bands of all time, but also an activist. His activism has been primarily focused on human rights and social justice causes and he’s done extensive work with organizations like Amnesty International.
U2 released 14 studio albums between 1980 and 2017. The band has gone on 17 tours between 1979 and 2019. Rolling Stone named U2 as 22nd of “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and Bono himself was listed as the 32nd greatest singer. U2 has won a staggering 22 Grammy Awards. They were also awarded a Golden Globe for the song “The Hands That Built America” after Martin Scorsese used the song in Gangs of New York.
What’s more, Bono has also been knighted on multiple occasions. He is an honorary knight in France, Portugal, and the UK, and a Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters in France.
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, Is Available Now
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, was released on November 1st by Penguin Random House publishers. It’s available on the publisher’s website for $34.
Bono wrote the following about his memoir:
When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress … With a fair amount of fun along the way.Bono, on his memoir, Surrender