Paul David Hewson, or Bono as he’s known, is an Irish singer-songwriter, actor, businessman, activist, and philanthropist who — despite being a rockstar — is known for living his life far from the edge. In contrast to the other rockstars of his day, Bono doesn’t smoke or do drugs, but does he have any tattoos?
Bono does not have any tattoos, but he and his work have inspired a great number of them. Nobody is sure exactly why the star chooses to be tattooless, but many believe it’s due to either his religious beliefs or a secret fear of needles.
Let’s investigate Bono’s lack of tattoos, the possible reasons for this, whether any other U2 members have ink, and what the wild, wide world of U2-inspired tattoos looks like.
Why Doesn’t Bono Have Any Tattoos?
Bono is one of the few rockstars that has remained tattoo-free for the entirety of his career. The reason for his lack of tattoos is not known, but fans of the legendary performer have their suspicions.
Most fans assume that the reason why Bono is tattoo-free has something to do with his religious and spiritual beliefs. In many religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, tattoos are prohibited or, at the very least, frowned upon.
Some suspect that Bono’s lack of tattoos stems from a secret fear of needles. However, although this is a common reason why rockers — like Alice Cooper — don’t get tattooed, Bono’s only fear is stage fright.
Another suspicion is that by the end of the 1980s, when U2’s popularity was at its high, tattooing had only been a mainstream activity for a little under a decade. By this reasoning, one could conclude that Bono simply wasn’t sure if getting a tattoo was a wise decision.
Do Any U2 Members Have Tattoos?
Bono is not the only member of U2 that doesn’t have any tattoos. Along with Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton have both opted out of permanent body art and neither has explained why.
The only member of the band — past and present — that has any ink is Larry Mullen Jr. As far as the public is aware, the drummer only has one tattoo.
This tattoo is located on his shoulder and is circular in shape and red and green in color. At a glance, it looks like it has a starburst style design, but it’s actually the symbol that appears on the album cover of ‘Songs of Innocence’.
Bono says of his bandmate’s tattoo, “Actually, you know Larry’s tattoo? He didn’t say anything on the day, didn’t say anything until we did the download and it was in the artwork, that this tattoo is based on Native American mythology. It’s the Pawnee tribe and is a symbol of protecting the innocents.”
Bono and The Wide World of U2 Tattoos
Bono and most of his bandmates might not have any tattoos, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t featured in them. U2-themed and inspired tattoos can be found all over the internet — and people’s bodies!
The tattoos range from sketched portraits of Bono to Joshua Tree silhouettes and from lyrics from the band’s most notable songs to special symbols, and all kinds of designs in between.
Back in 2015, while on the Innocence + Experience Tour in Chicago, Bono met a fan and — at her request — drew on her shoulder with a permanent marker. The fan, a travel writer named Lori, told the star to draw whatever he felt like drawing, so that’s what he did.
Bono drew a combination of a clover and his signature, with hearts instead of Os. Later that same day, she had this doodle permanently tattooed on her shoulder.
On the other side of the pond, a U2 superfan named James Coughlan has a number of U2-inspired tattoos on his wrists, arms, and shoulders.
There are so many fans that have Bono and U2 tattoos that a University of North Florida scholar named Beth Nabi created an academic research project and international curation of U2 tattoos. The project is called ‘The U2 Tattoo Project’.
‘The U2 Tattoo Project’ has curated images of U2 fan tattoos from all over the world.