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U2 took a pause during its sold-out show at The Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday night to honor a loss of “family”: the band’s longtime tour manager, Dennis Sheehan, who died earlier in the day.
Bono paid homage to Sheehan early in the set, as he introduced “Iris” from Songs of Innocence. “What a privilege to share the stage with these brothers of mine and to share this evening with you, who have given us everything. U2 is kind of family. It’s a brotherhood, although there are a lot of sisters too. But our extended family is very very important to us. We look after each other, and it takes a lot to put on a show like tonight.”
“Last night, we lost a member of our family,” the singer told the crowd. “Dennis Sheehan was his name. He was U2’s tour manager for 33 years. He loved, as we all do, the city of Los Angeles, and he called the Sunset Marquis his ‘home away from home.’ He came to this city as a young man in the ‘70s, working for Led Zeppelin. He always thought maybe U2 could be the next Led Zeppelin, which, of course, is impossible.”
Staying on the Zeppelin theme, Bono continued, “We did try once at his last big birthday. We turned up at his birthday dressed as Led Zeppelin.” He recalled, “Adam [Clayton] was quite something because he had kind of the professorial John Paul Jones look. The biggest problem was, I couldn’t quite fill Robert Plant‘s pants.”
The show is U2’s second night in a five-show run at the Los Angeles arena and the eighth date on its expanded international Innocence + Experience Tour that will last until November. Following word of Sheehan’s death, the band issued a statement saying the concert would proceed without postponement or delay.
Sheehan was found dead on Wednesday morning in his hotel room in West Hollywood. Paramedics were reportedly called after he was found unresponsive in the early hours of the morning; shortly thereafter, he was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
Bono added at the L.A. show, “A lot of U2 songs over the years were written to fill a void, an absence, a hole in the heart left by a loved one.” With the loss of Sheehan, U2 now has a wound.
Video of the speech is below, as is Bono’s full statement.
What a privilege to share the stage with these brothers of mine and to share this evening with you, who have given us everything. U2 is kind of family. It’s a brotherhood with a lot of sisters too. But our extended family is very important to us. We look after each other and it takes a lot to put on a show like tonight.
Last night, we lost a member of our family. Dennis Sheehan was his name. He was U2’s tour manager for 33 years. He loved Los Angeles, and he called the Sunset Marquis his home away from home. In the ‘70s, working for Led Zeppelin, he always thought U2 could be the next Led Zeppelin, which, of course, is impossible. We tried once at one of his last big birthdays, when we turned up dressed as Led Zeppelin. And I must say, The Edge looked pretty good with a twin-neck guitar … Adam was quite something — he had the professorial Jon Paul Jones look. The biggest problem was, I couldn’t fill Robert plants pants.
A lot of U2 songs over the years have been written to fill a void, an absence, a hole of a heart left by a loved one. This next one is one of those. It’s for my mother, Iris, who taught me through the wound that there’s an opening to something fantastic.
Later, Bono recalled the classic Live at Red Rocks and dedicated the show to the band’s late friend.
We made a live album way back when; it was set in Colorado at Red Rocks. It was called Under a Blood Red Sky. We used to end the show with ‘40.’ And whatever happened that night, nobody was singing the refrain. So we were backstage just trying to figure out what the hell was going on and trying to make it happen. We just heard this lone voice, this single voice, singing ‘How long to sing this song’ — a light voice, beautiful tremolo. And it was the voice of Dennis Sheehan, trying to get everyone to sing, which they did. So we dedicate this song… in fact we dedicate the night… in fact we dedicate our whole tour to the very vivid memory of Dennis Sheehan, St. Dennis of Dublin, as he’s known around here.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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