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Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelganger

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  685 ratings  ·  75 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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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  685 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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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.
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
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
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
David Browne
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Despite occasionally drifting into a slightly bitter tone, Killing Bono is generally an amusingly written self deprecating memoir of a man whose ambitions and an accident of birth coincide to keep him pursuing a dream of rock stardom long after he should have given it up. It's kind of a shame, really, as McCormick is a good writer and many years of opportunity to write were lost to his desire to achieve pop stardom. The ongoing appearances of Bono, the rest of U2 and various other denizens of th ...more
Doris Evans-McCarthy
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was an excellent read for anyone who wants to know why some people "make it" in the fickle music industry and some don't. Neil McCormick and his classmates who went on to form U2 started their bands at roughly the same time. They had the same audiences, the same peers, and even supported one another on stage. So why did U2 make it and Shook Up! fail to find its audience? Read the book. You'll be shocked at how many little decisions, how many little twists in the road can take you far f ...more
Joseph Roach
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This book brings you down a path where you start feeling sorry for the author, then want to slap yourself for giving in. He struggled to never really "make it", but had Bono and U2 on speed dial. Poor guy met about every iconic musician, so I can't shed a tear over his struggle, sorry.

I really enjoyed the background of Bono's roots and his true faith. The search for God and the dynamics between the superstar Christian and the starving atheist musician was a good subplot to the story. Skim the m
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Every music lover should read this book. It's a bittersweet tale of making it and breaking it in music business.

If you don't like or don't care about U2 just pretend that this book is a work of fiction and enjoy the wit and candor of the author's amusing storytelling. If you do like them you'll get the extra treat of reading about familiar names in U2's history throughout the book.

I found myself looking forward to Neil's next book but I realized he has only one life story to tell. So now I wish
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: U2 Fans everywhere
I loved this book, but I also absolutely LOVE U2. It was a fun read about a guy (Neil) that grew up with Bono, Larry, the Edge, and Adam, who was also struggling to make it in the music biz, while it seemed to come too easy for U2. Some great stories about the early days of U2, the first time the band performed (high school talent show), and how they became such huge stars while still keeping themselves in tact. I loved it!
Jeff Kirby
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(Written while listening to 'Pop' by U2)

As a die hard U2 fan, I had to read this. I had resisted pulling it off my shelf. Once I did I couldn't put it down. A well written, concise autobiography that also chronicles the rise of U2 and Bono in 300 pages. Along the way I learned all about the tribulations of not making it as a rock star and the definition of rock n' roll lifestyle.

So that's it: my review of a professional reviewer's autobiography.
Janet Merrill
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
a great rock memoir that taps into the struggle of trying to make it in the music industry in the shadow of his childhood friends, U2. Neil has a sharp sense of humor and major attention to detail that draws you into the story and you want to see the guy achieve the rock star status he craves. His relationship with Bono throughout the years is a unique one and whether you like him or not, I liked seeing another side to the bigger than life rock God.
Jay Cruz
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: U2 Fans, Anyone that has been in a Garage band.
Shelves: music, non-fiction
If you loved Nick Hornby's High Fidelity you'll love this book. It's the real life story of Neil McCormick, a long time friend of Bono and the U2 band. Music aficionados and musicians specially can really identify with this book, but anyone that has struggled with succeeding at something, the "what it all means" of the quater and mid-life crisis, will enjoy it as well.
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Funny and informative. It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes view of some of the bands I loved as a kid (and still love) and to see McCormick's journey from self-absorbed, delusional punk kid to self-absorbed, somewhat successful grown-up. Loses a star for the rather sappy and self-congratulatory ending, but I am definitely glad I read it and will pass it on to other children of the 1980s.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book to anyone who's ever been interested in how the music industry works. Poor Neil McCormick, describes his life journey as a failed musician turned music journalist.

He successfully encompasses both the best and worst of being ambitious, his wins and losses in the 1980's music industry, and wittily describes the jealousy incurred by having to go to high school with someone who would someday become one of the world's biggest (and possibly most notorious) rock stars.
Apr 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this sarcastic, self-deprecating memoir, both a hilarious and depressing read. Hilarious because McCormick has a really great way of poking fun at his own pomposity and self-aggrandizement, and depressing because it really makes it hit home how ridiculously difficult it is to try to “make it” as an artist of any type in this life.
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