U2's Adam Clayton Opens Up About Addiction

U2 bassist Adam Clayton has opened up how the band’s early success led to his struggles with drugs and alcohol.

“We were making records by the time we were 20, by the time we were 25 and 26 we could pay our rent no problem, we owned cars, we could travel, and by the time The Joshua Tree hit we could buy houses,” Clayton recalled during an appearance on The Tommy Tiernan Show on RTÉ One.

“Anyone I’ve met who’s experienced success and fame in that way in those years it takes them a long time to recover from it, and that sounds like a complaint but that’s just what happens.

“I was kind of very unhappy so I drank and I drugged and got myself in tabloid newspapers, and embarrassed kind of everyone I knew, and myself, but you know you come through it. You learn from it and maybe that’s what young men do anyway.”

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Clayton reflected on a particularly bad time during the Zoo TV tour in 1993.

“I know about three days later I woke up and I had not turned up for a gig, in a stadium, that was being filmed, a lot of money resting on it, a lot of jeopardy,” he said. “I had let the guys down, the three guys who had stood by me since the age of 16 or 17. ... I let down the audience, I let down the road crew.

“It was not a great place to be and if ever there was a moment of realization, where you wake up and you go, ‘I have a problem and it’s bigger than me and I need some help,' that was it.”

Clayton said he still struggles. “Even though drink was the thing that brought me down, I still have to really work quite hard at keeping my sanity on and off the road. And my thinking can take me to bad places. My thinking is not always reliable. And it’s great having three other guys who can kind of check you sometimes, and we check each other.”