LONDON/MUNICH (Reuters) - U2 frontman Bono left hospital in Germany on Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery on his back, but the injury has forced the Irish band to postpone the entire North American leg of its world tour.
It also means the band will not be appearing at Glastonbury, one of the biggest live music events of the annual pop calendar.
Bono has been told to recuperate for at least eight weeks and band manager Paul McGuinness, speaking to Reuters outside the Munich hospital where the operation was performed on Friday, said the 50-year-old singer “feels awful” about the tour changes, which will affect over a million fans.
“Clearly this is a serious injury and the recuperation time necessary to rehabilitate Bono is a big problem for the U2 tour and has unfortunately necessitated the postponement of 16 shows in North America,” he said.
“Those shows were to occur between June 3 in Salt Lake City and July 19 in Meadowlands Stadium.”
The earliest possible date for Bono’s return, according to the band’s website, would be August 6 in Turin, Italy.
U2 were to have been the headline act on the main stage at Glastonbury on June 25, but that has now been canceled.
“I’m heartbroken,” Bono said in a statement posted on the festival’s website. “We really wanted to be there to do something really special — we even wrote a song especially for the festival.”
As well as the band and fans, the injury will also hit Live Nation, the music concert company which signed a 12-year deal to handle merchandising, digital and branding rights and touring for one of the world’s most successful bands.
“Obviously Bono feels terrible about missing these shows and we are working as fast as we can with Live Nation to reinstate them and reschedule them for next year,” McGuinness said.
“For a performer like him to miss shows is a terrible thing and he feels awful about it. He shouldn’t. The most important thing is for him to get better and return to his full power as a performer.”
Joerg Tonn, the neurosurgeon treating the star, described Bono’s condition as a “sudden onset disease” which caused temporary partial paralysis. The injury happened while the singer was training in preparation for the tour.
“He was already in severe pain with partial paralysis of the lower leg. The ligaments surrounding the disc had an eight millimeter tear and during surgery we discovered fragments of the disc had travelled into the spine canal.
“The surgery was the only cause of treatment for full recovery and to avoid further paralysis. Bono is now much better with complete recovery of his motor-deficit.
“His prognosis is excellent but to obtain a sustainable result he must now enter a period of rehabilitation.”
The 2009 part of the tour helped the band earn $109 million last year, according to music journal Billboard. The U2 360 Tour, so-called because fans surround a giant circular platform, was predicted to become the highest-grossing tour in history.
The band, with hits like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”, is one of the world’s biggest. They have sold over 150 million records, according to unofficial estimates.
Reporting and writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison