U2’s Bono recalls “waking up in Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom” after drinking with Barack Obama

"[I'd] fallen asleep in the bosom of Abraham himself"

Bono has recalled the time that he was woken up by President Barack Obama in Abraham Lincoln’s former bedroom after the pair had been drinking together at the White House.

The U2 singer had been visiting the Obama family with his wife, Ali Hewson, when the then-president of the United States made some “strong cocktails”.

Bono revealed to BBC Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball that he ended up passing out in a nearby bedroom, which happened to be that of the ex-US President who served from 1861-1865.


Referring to Obama, Bono said: “He’s the most extraordinary man and they’re the most extraordinary family. The 44th president of the United States, he mixes cocktails; he doesn’t have too many, he’s very measured.”

Bono of U2
Bono of U2 performs live in 2017. CREDIT: Frank Hoensch/Getty Images

Bono went to explain that he has an allergy to salicylates, which are found in substances including red wine. Salicylates cause his “head to swell up like a balloon” or prompt him to “fall asleep somewhere”.

Describing the “special moment” the couple were invited round, Bono explained how he had snuck off for a nap after drinking the cocktails as well as red wine.

“I had them and the wine and the allergy and I ended up slipping out for a kip and the president said to Ali after about 10 minutes, ‘Where’s Bono gone?’

“She said, ‘He’s just gone for a sleep.’ [Obama] said, ‘I’m sorry?’,” the singer recalled.


“[Ali] said, ‘He has to, he just has to go for these sleeps, he’ll be back in 10 minutes. I’ve been with him for 30 years, don’t you worry a thing about him, Mr President. I’ll go find him’.”

Barack Obama
Barack Obama CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bono added that Obama insisted on joining Hewson to find her husband, who they then found sleeping in Lincoln’s old bedroom.

“[Obama] goes, ‘No, no, no.’ And he comes with her and [saying] where can he be…? I know, he was asking me about the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln’s.’

“And there I was in Lincoln’s bedroom, asleep, fallen asleep in the bosom of Abraham himself,” Bono continued. “He just woke me up and laughed. President laughed his head off.”

“But he does tell people that he drinks me under the table, he doesn’t believe the allergy thing,” Bono added. “He does make strong cocktails, though, just saying.”

Bono said that he’s had other moments where he’s napped in funny spots. “I’ve fallen asleep in really awkward spots; the lighting desk of Sonic Youth – they mixed around me and couldn’t be nicer,” he said,

“I’ve slept on the street, on car bonnets and indeed I did fall asleep at the White House and they were very, very good about it actually.”

The U2 songwriter has been promoting his new memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

Recent revelations from the book include how he believes his singing voice changed after losing his father, how he discovered that his cousin is also his half-brother, the alleged death threats he’s received in his life, and the 2014 controversy in which U2 arranged for their album ‘Songs Of Innocence‘ to be automatically downloaded onto the devices of 500million iTunes users.