It's a big day in the life of the man born Paul Hewson, who is one of the most famous and iconic rock stars in history. Of course, he's known to the world as Bono, the singer for U2 and a full-time activist. He turns 50 years old today, so we at MTV News wanted to wish him a very happy birthday.
Really, considering how much he has accomplished, it's incredible that Bono is only 50 years old. His band first broke out way back in 1980 with their debut album Boy, which contained their first hit "I Will Follow" (he called himself "Bono Vox" then, which translates to "beautiful voice"). Their sound began as a hybrid of punk rock agitation, New Wave beauty and Eno-esque soundscapes. Over the course of the 1980s, they gradually morphed into one of the biggest bands on the planet, with MTV staples like "New Year's Day," "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" accosting the charts. In fact, their 1987 album The Joshua Tree is largely considered to be the finest album of the 1980s and one of the best ever made.
The '90s saw U2 expanding outward both sonically and socially. Their triptych of albums — 1991's Achtung Baby, 1993's Zooropa and 1997's Pop — toyed with electronic instruments, dance music, dub, prog rock and all manner of genres in between, all while still maintaining their core identity and knocking out hits like "One" and "Discotheque." All the while, they went on huge stadium-filling tours and worked more and more on charity projects and on worldwide outreach, with Bono leading the way in addressing the AIDS epidemic and third world debt relief.
The past decade has seen the band find their roots again, and they saw their anthemic epics providing the soundtrack to important moments in history (most notably "Beautiful Day," which became an unofficial theme song of survival following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001). They continue to produce incredible music to this day, as their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon delivered a handful more hits and another huge, envelope-pushing tour.
Bono is best known for the big notes on U2's most massive hits, but for our money, the best vocal he has ever delivered is found on the somewhat forgotten single "Sweetest Thing," which came out on one of the group's greatest hits albums and remains one of their simpler, clear-eyed pop tunes. Bono is also at his most charmingly goofy in the video, which demands to be seen and appreciated.