No tour on the horizon for U2
U2 frontman Bono left hospital in Germany today after undergoing emergency surgery on his back, but the injury has forced the band to postpone the entire 16-date North American leg of its 360° Tour.
U2 have also been forced to cancel an appearance at Glastonbury, one of the biggest live music events of the annual pop calendar. There are no plans as yet to cancel the European leg of the tour planned later in the year.
Band manager Paul McGuinness, speaking outside the Munich hospital where Bono was recuperating since being admitted for treatment last 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 3rd in Salt Lake City and July 19th in Meadowlands Stadium."
Bono has been told by doctors to undertake a rehab regime as well as resting for at least eight weeks. The earliest possible date for Bono's return, according to the band's website, would be August 6th in Turin, Italy.
U2 were to have been the headline act on the main stage at Glastonbury on June 25th, but that has now been cancelled. "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."
Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis said it was too early to think about a replacement.
Bono's injury is a blow to the band and millions of fans who are hoping to see them this year on the second leg of their world U2 360 Tour. It will also hit Live Nation, the music concert company which signed a 12-year deal to handle merchandising, digital and branding rights as well as 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."
Professor Joerg Tonn, the neurosurgeon who operated on Bono, described his 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 millimetre 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 about €90 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.