Happy Birthday, Adam Clayton!
Today is Adam Clayton’s 51st birthday.
Adam Clayton, of course, is the bass player for U2. He’s also the member of U2 that causes the most problems for Christians. For years Adam was known in Christian circles as the “non-Christian” member of U2, a fact which Bono and other bandmates are always correcting people on, saying that he is indeed a Christian and even more quiet about it than others. The fact is, though, that he has also been the only true “rock star” of the group, in the sense that he used to party hard, was once arrested for possession of marijuana, has had several high profile engagements that were eventually broken off, and missed one memorable show (Sydney, 1993) due to a combination of substance abuse lifestyle and loss of an engagement.
However, he was also the first manager U2 had, busted his butt promoting the band, and has been the solid core of the band for years, keeping everyone else in check from going too nuts with creative ideas. Along with Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton is the backbone of U2, and is sometimes jokingly referred to as the “5th member” of U2. And ever since he missed that ZooTV show in 1993, he’s been sober and an example of clean living. Recently it was announced that he had become a father, having a child with his current girlfriend…another fact that causes trouble with Christians.
U2 wouldn’t be the same with Adam Clayton. He kept the rest of the band grounded when well-intentioned Christians tried to subvert the rest of the band into believing that rock and roll isn’t Christ honoring. He was Bono’s best man at his wedding, helped get U2 off the ground, and since then has helped create the most powerful rock band in the world. Plus he has a great sense of humor.
Here’s my top 5 favorite Adam Clayton songs…or U2 songs that feature truly great bass.
1 – Mysterious Ways, Achtung Baby (1991)
This song is just build around Adam’s groove.
2 – Bullet the Blue Sky, Joshua Tree (1987)
Another song where normally Edge is the one who shines, but Adam is what keeps the song going. This video from Rattle and Hum also includes one of the greatest Adam lines ever, and one I agree with wholeheartedly.
3 – New Year’s Day, War (1983)
Probably the first classic Adam Clayton bass line, New Year’s Day is just a solid song all around. This performance was captured the day after Adam missed his first and only U2 show. The band has jokingly said since then this was the biggest hangover ever recorded on film.
4 – Dirty Day, Zooropa (1993)
While not a complex bass line, I still really like it. It’s simple yet catchy.
5 – A Man and a Woman, How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)
Nearly all U2 fans hate this song, yet I love it. Not entirely sure why. In the Vertigo tour programme, Adam mentioned that he was really looking forward to playing this song live, but it has yet to be played. To me, this song is all about Adam’s bass and the gorgeous falsetto that Edge does halfway through the song. It captures so many different emotions. A forgotten and undeservedly maligned gem of a U2 song.
Honorable mentions: Love and Peace or Else, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004); I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight Live Remix, Artificial Horizon (2010); If You Wear that Velvet Dress, Pop (1997); Exit, The Joshua Tree (1987); Two Hearts Beat As One, War (1983); and of course, 40, War (1983).