“We came up with a sort of old English Devil, a pop star long past his prime returning regularly from sessions on The Strip in Vegas and regaling anyone who would listen to him at cocktail hour with stories from the good old, bad old days.”
“I am a man of wealth and taste. I’ve been around for many a long year.Pleased to meet you, hope you can guess my name… my name is actually Mr Macphisto. San Jose, it’s when you don’t believe that I don’t exist that I do my best work.” - Mr. MacPhisto (San Josè, 8/5/2018)
Bono conceived the alternate persona, “The Fly”, during the writing of the song of the same name. The character began with Bono wearing an oversized pair of blaxploitation sunglasses, given to him by wardrobe manager Fintan Fitzgerald, to lighten the mood in the studio. Bono wrote the song’s lyrics as this character, composing a sequence of “single-line aphorisms”. He developed the persona into a leather-clad egomaniac, describing his outfit as having Lou Reed’s glasses, Elvis Presley’s jacket, and Jim Morrison’s leather pants.To match the character’s dark fashion, Bono dyed his naturally brown hair black.
Bono began each concert as The Fly and continued to play the character for most of the first half of the concert. In contrast to his earnest self of the 1980s, as The Fly, Bono strutted around the stage with “swagger and style”, exhibiting mannerisms of an egotistical rock star; he publicly stated, and adopted the mindset, that he was “licensed to be an egomaniac”. He often stayed in character away from the tour stage, including for public appearances and when staying in hotels. He said, “That rather cracked character could say things that I couldn’t”, and that it offered him a greater freedom of speech.