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In a fascinating example of one classic rock star paying tribute to another, Bono of U2 once wrote an essay about Elvis Presley’s greatness and influence. In that essay, he said watching Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special when he was a child was an incredible experience. The U2 star would later cite one of the King of Rock’ n’ Roll’s songs as having a huge impact on him.

Bono felt there was something religious about Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special’

In 2010, Rolling Stone released its list of the 100 greatest artists. Elvis was No. 3 on the list, behind only Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Bono wrote an essay for the list about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“I was eight years old when I saw the ’68 Comeback Special — which was probably an advantage,” he wrote. “I hadn’t the critical faculties to divide the different Elvises into different categories or sort through the contradictions. Pretty much everything I want from guitar, bass, and drums was present: a performer annoyed by the distance from his audience; a persona that made a prism of fame’s wide-angle lens; a sexuality matched only by a thirst for God’s instruction.” The Christian faith was a huge influence on the music of both rock stars.

The U2 frontman thought Elvis Presley’s Las Vegas era was haunting

Bono was especially taken by Elvis’ dancing. “But it’s that elastic spastic dance that is the most difficult to explain — hips that swivel from Europe to Africa, which is the whole point of America, I guess,” Bono said. “For an Irish boy, the voice might have explained the sexiness of the U.S.A., but the dance explained the energy of this new world about to boil over and scald the rest of us with new ideas on race, religion, fashion, love, and peace.”

In Bono’s opinion, Elvis’ Las Vegas era is undervalued. The U2 frontman said Elvis’ operatic vocals from his later career are especially haunting. Bono also said the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s personal issues made the Vegas period of his career emotionally captivating. Bono opined that the United States of America ultimately crushed Elvis, despite the icon’s influence on the country.


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One of the many classics Elvis performed during his ’68 Comeback Special was “Heartbreak Hotel.” In a 2020 Rolling Stone article, Bono named 60 songs that matter to him in honor of his 60th birthday. Bono put “Heartbreak Hotel” on the list.

Bono revealed he could relate to “Heartbreak Hotel” because he had his “heart broken by distance.” The “With or Without You” singer said he owed a debt to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Bono covered Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and wrote a song called “Elvis Presley and America” for the album The Unforgettable Fire.

The “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” singer inspired Bono — and Bono was in awe of his incredible talent.