Adam Clayton is the eldest son of Brian and Jo Clayton. The young Clayton family moved from England to Nairobi (due to Brian Clayton’s profession as a pilot) before finally settling in Malahide, Ireland, when Adam was five years old.
As luck would have it, the Claytons befriended the Evans family, and young Adam would occasionally play with Dave, his brother Dick and sister Gillian; however, the real bonding between two future members of U2 would not occur until after Larry Mullen posted his now famous advertisement at Mount Temple Comprehensive School.
Entering his teens, Adam moved to St. Columba’s College, an Irish public boarding school in Whitechurch, where he befriended John Leslie, who could play guitar and had a cache of musical cassettes he happily shared.
After realizing that Eric Clapton hadn’t started playing guitar until he was 15 or so, Adam bought his first guitar, a second-hand acoustic, for £5, started learning songs, and took a few classical guitar lessons. Adam switched to the bass after deciding to start a group with John.
After promising not to give up on the investment, his parents bought him his first bass – a dark brown Ibanez copy. The following year, Adam was kicked out of St. Columba’s because of poor grades and sent to Mount Temple in north Dublin.
Within a month of attending his first term, Adam was auditioning in Larry Mullen’s kitchen. In August 1989, Adam made headlines after two undercover cops busted him for possession of a small amount of marijuana in Dublin. To avoid conviction, the judge allowed Adam to make a “donation” of £25,000 to the Dublin Women’s Aid Refugee Center.
In U2 by U2, Adam described his conviction as a “minor offense that some individuals tried to blow up into something quite serious.” At the time, Ireland was dealing with an expanding drug culture and the arrest was meant to send a message; however the story never got the traction authorities were looking for.
Adam has since expressed regret over being caught breaking the law, but did not mind making a donation to the refugee center. Sadly, this was not to be the last time that he had to deal with substance abuse.
In 2009, Adam found himself in the headlines again after his personal assistant, Carol Hawkins, was accused of misappropriating 1.8 million of his money by using his credit and debit cards without authorization.
This was particularly galling for Adam as the same assistant had earlier confessed to stealing 13000 of his money but at that time, he had decided to treat her sympathetically and agreed to keep her on. She was eventually tried on 184 counts of theft and forgery. Adam has had a chequered history of relationships.
He was famously engaged to supermodel Naomi Campbell in 1994 but their relationship was fiery and ended acrimoniously, although Campbell says she is now friends with the entire band again. He also got engaged to Suzie Smith, who is a member of the U2 organisation in 2006, but they split up in February 2007. Since then it has been revealed that Adam has actually become a father, having had a son with an unnamed French woman in early 2010. He is said to be ‘deliriously happy’ with fatherhood.