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Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelganger

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  748 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Longtime friend and reporter, Neil McCormick, reveals childhood and present day stories about Bono and his band, U2.

Some are born great.
Some achieve greatness.
Some have greatness thrust upon them.
And some have the misfortune
to go to school with Bono.

Everyone wants to be famous. But as a young punk in Dublin in the 1970s, Neil McCormick's ambitions went way beyond mere
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 19th 2004 by MTV Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  748 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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"Killing Bono" by music journalist Neil McCormick is a book about the power of youthful dreams, about growing up in the embrace of music and its omnipotent power that does not fade with age and increasing difficulties.
The author himself says about the book that it is "a personal, psychological and philosophical acceptance of his own fate" and although these words sound extremely serious, the whole story captivates with sincerity, humor and distance.

Neil McCormick was (un)lucky to go to school a
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a fun book to read, mainly because I was surprised that the author really did grow up with Bono, which at first I didn't believe. He really did spend his life being thwarted in the music industry while Bono and company achieved incredible success.
If I were him, I would have felt the same self pity and envy! But I would not have stuck around to watch it all happen, showing up to U2 concerts and backstage parties, feeling a deep sense of being a loser...And I would have given up the drea
Jo Ann
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Being part of a committed book club, and being one of those committed members, means you read books out of your comfort/interest zone...this is one of those books for me. I am out of my element when it comes to rock stars/musicians...but, like most such books like this, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read and discuss this book that Elton John recommended as the best book to read about the music business. Neil McCormick went to school with Bono, and was determined that HE would become the succ ...more
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was written by a childhood friend of Bono, who struggled to make it in the music business while watching U2 become the most successful band in the world. I was really interested in the backstory on Bono and the genesis of U2. Then, I also became really engaged in the author's story and thought his frustrations were compelling and emotional. This book provides a great look at the music industry of the 1980s and the life of wannabe musicians. ...more
Neil McCormick does such a good job at describing that feeling of almost jealousy where you want something but maybe you're friend receives it even though you yourself believe you are deserving of it. He has forever had this egotistical ideology where he thinks he is destined for great things and that is extremely relatable. The amount of times I've just thought 'wow, I'm going to be a famous such-and-such' astonishes me and Neil really has put that thought process that pretty much everyone has ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Neil McCormick went to school with Bono and the rest of the members of U2 and this true story is all about how Neil's life went in a very different direction than Bono's even though he also wanted to be a famous rock star. This true story is all about how you can be so sure that you want something and that it is going to happen because you want it so much. Lif doesn't always work out that way but it doesn't mean that you didn't learn anything or that you can't enjoy it. Also i ...more
Bradley Morgan
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
McCormick, a music reporter and rock critic, grew up with aspirations to become the biggest rockstar on the planet. It was his destiny to release critically-acclaimed albums, sell millions of concert tickets, and achieve world peace when settling in as an elder statesman of pop music following decades of rockstar hedonism. However, he had the misfortune of going to school with Bono.

McCormick and Bono were friends attended the same school in Ireland and both dreamed of becoming the biggest rocks
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed reading this book. Neil has a great way with words which just confirms why he is a journalist. Fascinating to hear about growing up with Bono and U2, how it started, friends in Ireland and still to this day. Neils journey is frustrating. As well, you think things are going to go his way, but then disappointment. He wasn’t meant to be the famous rock star that Bono was meant to be. I guess if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be for the chosen ones... others no matter what you do, just won’ ...more
Erik Ferguson
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have to get back to work (yes, on a Sunday!), so I'll just take a little time to provide a more brief review than this book deserves. I hate to say it, but that time constraint and the fact that I picked up my copy of Killing Bono at the airport while on a work-related trip illustrate my getting caught up in the normal pattern where I've had to squeeze the arts into the cracks between clicking a mouse all day. The irony is that my life is exactly what Neil McCormick spent decades trying to avo ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I saw the movie which is based on that memoir a while ago and instantly bought the DVD. It still is one of my go to feel good movies. I really do recommend to watch it. And the same goes for the book. (Although, for the record, the movie does steer quite far from the original story).
For anybody interested in music and the music business this is probably a must read since it shows quite well the inner workings of the music business and offers a lot of information on rock and pop music in general
Adam Sigmund
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book. The author is a childhood friend of Bono and tried really hard to be in a successful rock band too. Great stories (told well and often funny.. very honest too, also sharing what pissed him off) of what it was like growing up in the music scene of their area at the time and how they're two bands developed and how his relationship changed when u2 hit mega stardom. At the end you realize that the author holds no bitterness and he in fact ended up with doing what he loved to do all along ...more
David B
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really entertaining and in lightning read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons. I’ve always been a huge U2 fan and particularly interested in their early years. But reading Neil’s story about his own tribulations was both comic and sad. As a lifelong music fan, particularly punk and Post-Punk and in the rock bands, it’s fascinating to me how challenging the industry really is or at least was.
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
Well, this was a pretty good time. It's a neat lens through which to look at the rise of U2, that of a classmate who also wanted to be a musician, plus McCormick's own story is pretty good. Maybe a few too many, "And we ended up where we started"s, but it's all quite charmingly told. ...more
Julianna May
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a cool & entertaining book - loved getting the back story of how U2 was started. It's also nice because it's written by a somewhat snarky and faintly jealous old friend instead of a gushing Bono admirer. Worth the read! ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
It's not an authorized book by the band, but yet a very interesting story about how the band came to be--and how the author thought their paths have somehow crossed, but one got lucky, and we know who that was. A book I will read again, and again--and that's because I love the band. ...more
Jonny Brick
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One man became an eminent rock critic, the other became a secular pope with delusions of grandeur. U2's origin story is one of the best rock biographies that talks about Ireland and its fab music scene in the pre-U2 era. ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written book. The end was better than the beginning. Recommend it for all U2 and Bono fans.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtitle...and I begrudgingly accepted his success although I can laugh about it now.

I'm also a little disappointed in myself that I couldn't slip a U2 song lyric into this review.
Brandon Marsh
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book
I couldn't put it down.
Marcia Lino
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Witty, funny account of a wannabe rock star. A look into the rock scene in late 70's Dublin. One of the funniest books I have ever read on the music and rock and roll subject. ...more
Simone Sana
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Funny and sad
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
An autobio of Neil McCormick, an aspiring rocker-turned-music journalist who happened to go to school with the lads from U2. The book doesn't actually do anything as a bio of U2, instead it's a bio of someone who happened to cross paths several times in his life with a group of folks whose fame threatens to eclipse everything he can ever hope to accomplish with his life. Quintessentially Irish and Punk-rock, it's a story of the times.

So there are two main reasons why I enjoyed this book, but if
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this after watching the movie version and I enjoyed it as much as I did the movie.
Neil writes in an honest, open manner and you can't help admire he and his brother for their persistence after taking more knock backs than most other people would stick around to take! At times it seems everything was standing in their way and I am actually surprised they managed to keep going in London, trying to get record deals, as long as they did, many others would probably have sloped off back to Irel
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
No intentional spoilers, but wow, this guy (the author - Neil McCormick) has what Winston Churchill respected... he never, ever, ever gives up. Ever. Churchill actually said "Never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty...". Churchill also said, " is the courage to continue that counts". This book has nothing to do with Churchill and everything to do with McCormick's courage and drive to find success as a musician / pop star. As I've never heard of Mc ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
It's all very good to read the biographies of successful artistis. But what about the people who don't make it, who have talent, but it just doesn't somehow work out. We rarely read about those people that are the greater percent of the population, and who frankly, most of us understand.

Neil McCormick tells the story of his attempt to be a rock musician. He grew up with Bono, and so was constantly witnessing U2's great success, and comparing himself with the super famous Bono. McCormick reveals
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating novel! All the absurdities make it seem even more realistic.
Neil McCormick had an incredible life.

Still I hope mine doesn't go down the same road.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of U2, and everyone that is a fan of something probably has questions. How did it start? Who/what are the inspirations? Who got the idea to start it? Blah, blah, blah.... Killing Bono answers pretty much all of those questions: The U2 guys all went to school together. They were inspired by the Ramones and Sex Pistols. Larry Mullen spread the word about starting a band.
Not only does Neil McCormick talk about the U2 guys, but he talks about how he tried and was part of the band wh
This isn't a book about U2, although they, particularly Bono (obviously), are integral to the story. And I don't think you need to know much about them to enjoy this book (much like with the film, which is based on this book). My mum (who knows nothing about U2) enjoyed this book as much as I did, even though she only heard bits I read out to her when she asked me what made me laugh (though I reckon I read her approximately half the text). She says she hasn't heard me laugh so much in a long tim ...more
Failing to break into international rock stardom understandably smarts far less if you do not happen to have gone to school with not just one but all four members of U2.

Very different from the film Killing Bono, this oozes self-deprecating humour, as the author recalls how each and every one of his musical projects fell through, while his friend and rival went on to conquer the planet.

The redemption that is finally achieved does not feel in the least phony, and even Bono comes across as surprisi
Darren Shan
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, informative, moving look at what happens to pop or rock wannabes who don't make it. Neil McCormick went to school with Bono and the other members of U2, and harboured dreams of being a pop star. but while their career soared, his slowly crashed and burnt. He captures the slow, painful death of his dreams in lovingly excruciating detail -- but also shows how he found a way to live and deal with the disappointments of live, and how he came through the other side finally smiling. He ...more
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