Bono Expresses Love of Elvis Presley Via Poem on the BBC

May 6, 2009 4:22 PM ET

Bono has never kept his admiration of Elvis Presley a secret. U2's frontman wrote about the King for Rolling Stone's Immortals issue, calling Elvis "the blueprint for rock & roll." And U2 even recorded tracks for 1987's Rattle and Hum at Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis first put his silky pipes to tape.

On May 13th, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a poem Bono has written about the King of Rock & Roll, and according to the Associated Press, the sonnet is a sentimental ode to Presley's inspirational career, from his small-town Mississippi roots ultimately to his influence on culture the world over. It will be the first time the poem will be heard by a mass audience, after being shelved for 10 years.

While the poem had been published previously, it has never been publicly aired. The BBC is running it as part of its poetry season, and Bono's heartfelt words — intertwined with Presley's song "Mystery Train" — will serve as the center piece for a 15-minute broadcast, featuring snippets of Elvis' music and other material. Throughout the poem, Bono claims, among other things, that "Elvis invented the Beatles," that "Elvis woke up my heart" and that "Elvis was made by America so America could remake itself."

"Elvis has millions of fans around the world, and Bono is one of them," Des Shaw, who recorded the poem at Ten Alps Radio, told the AP, before stating the obvious. "It lay around for a long time with a lot of producers and editors trying to turn it into a soundscape. It couldn't be a cold reading, so producer Chris O'Shaughnessy put it together. It seems the more you look into Elvis the more you realize exactly what a groundbreaker he was. He was breaking down boundaries."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »