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Achtung baby, Adam is the proud father of a little boy


Adam Clayton  at a U2 gig in Croke Park. Photo: Damien Eagers

Adam Clayton at a U2 gig in Croke Park. Photo: Damien Eagers

Adam Clayton at a U2 gig in Croke Park. Photo: Damien Eagers

Adam Clayton has finally found what he's looking for. The U2 bassist is a father. He had a child with a French woman early last year. For years, Adam was the only one in the world-famous band who wasn't a parent.

"I think one of the great things about bands is that they allow you to be irresponsible for longer -- whether or not in the end that's a really healthy position to take," Adam told Q Magazine in 2001.

"I guess I've been lucky in that I fucked about until my mid-30s and now I can have more of a balanced outlook. I think not having a family and kids, I know what I need."

Obviously he changed his opinion last year when his French partner had a baby boy.

According to my source very close to U2, he is deliriously happy with fatherhood. The same source even claimed it is indeed the making of Adam, the one-time bad boy of the group who was once engaged to supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Definitely the most rock 'n' roll member of U2 for years (he was arrested outside the Blue Light pub in the Dublin mountains in 1989 for possession of marijuana), Adam was not shy about showing his colourful credentials as an out-of-kilter rock star. He was photographed displaying his proud manhood on the inside cover of U2's Achtung Baby album in 1991.

It is all achtung baby and nappy changes now for the former dedicated bachelor and libertine. He gave up drink in 1996. For his birthday one year, Bono recalled a few years ago, the rest of U2 bought him a travelling cocktail cabinet.

Bono added that "we lived through him vicariously for a few years. I was hoping that he'd do something like buy a yacht and we could all hang out on it. Because all of us were too embarrassed."

A different kind of embarrassment occurred in November 1993. Adam missed a show in Sydney because he was too emotional to go on stage during the Zoo TV tour.

"We thought that was the end," Bono said later in reference to Sydney. "We didn't want to go on if someone was that unhappy and not enjoying himself."

That lost night of turbulence in Australia matched his relationship with his ex-fiancee, queen of the temper tantrum as much as the catwalk, Naomi Campbell.

They were engaged in 1993 for a high-profile and stormy six months. Bono said at the time that the relationship was good for Adam (who was best man at his wedding to Alison Stewart in Raheny on August 21, 1982) because it "forced him to be the stable one in the relationship".

It is believed that Adam called off the relationship. In any event, Campbell told the Observer a few years ago, "I'm still great friends with Adam".

More importantly, Adam seems friends with himself now; something that couldn't be said during his drinking years. He told the Montreal Gazette in 2001 that his decision to quit "kind of brought me back down to earth, and now, having gone through all that, I definitely prefer it the way it is. I feel much more focused, much more... useful". And being a father is certainly useful.

He is more than useful with U2, providing some of the most memorable riffs on the band's music -- chief among them Bullet The Blue Sky and New Year's Day. ("That actually grew out of me trying to work out the chords to the Visage tune Fade to Grey," he revealed to BP Fallon a few years ago. "It was a kind of Euro-disco dance hit, and somehow it turned into New Year's Day.")

Clayton is an integral part of the group. "Adam was another reason my guitar playing developed the way it did," The Edge once said. "He was such an unorthodox bass player, and Larry and myself, in an attempt to make it work, developed our mutual styles to accommodate Adam's approach. In some ways Larry and I were like the rhythm section and Adam's really forceful bass playing was almost like the lead, it was very much out in the forefront."

He is also an absolutely charming gentleman. I've met him many times over the years (including San Francisco in 1992); he is always the most down to earth and decidedly un-rock star-ish chap on the planet.

I was backstage at U2's show in Paris last September and he was Zen-calm as he chatted to Danish supermodel Helena Christensen (a rumoured ex of his) before going on in front of 98,000 people.

The further good news is that my mole in the U2 camp tells me that fatherhood suits Adam and he is a new man -- he has been, in fact, for the last decade-and-a-half since he stopped the sauce. It is certainly a new commitment for the member of U2 who could possibly have been seen as a commitmentphobe until now.

Lest we forget, post-Naomi, he got engaged to his girlfriend of 10 years Susie Smith in 2006. When I announced the news to the world on the front page of this newspaper, U2 then put it on the official U2 website. It read: "Congratulations! We can confirm the rumour that Adam Clayton is engaged to Canadian girlfriend, Susie Smith. All of us at U2.com wish Adam and Susie all the best for the future!"

Adam (who is currently in the US with the band ahead of the restart of their world tour in Johannesburg in South Africa on February 13) asked her on Valentine's night 2006 at a private soiree in London where the couple spent a lot of time together.

Then a year later Adam and Susie went their separate ways after what was described by friends as "an amicable split". Alas, it wasn't to be. It scotched the hot rumour that they were supposed to get married in the biggest rock 'n' roll wedding of the year in 2007, with Bono as best man.

My favourite Adam Clayton rumour is that he put his body in front of Bono in 1987 during a show in America's deep south during Pride (In the Name of Love) to protect his friend from an alleged death threat.

Adam (along with Bono and The Edge) answered an ad on the notice board at Mount Temple school that 14-year-old Larry Mullen had posted in 1976. The rest is history. Of the early U2, Bono once said that: "Adam was bringing a lot of panache to the proceedings, and he was starting to produce a really great bass sound, even though he was a very eccentric bass player. He could play really complicated things easily and then be unable to clap in time and you'd just be left scratching your head."

Years ago, the concept of Adam Clayton as daddy would have had you furiously scratching your head. But not now.

Sunday Independent