On his father

"A very charming, amusing, likeable man, but he was deeply cynical about the world and the characters in it. I got to make peace with him, but never really became his friend. Nothing extraordinary here, just Irish macho male stuff."

On himself

"I'm a scribbling, cigarsmoking, wine-drinking, Bible-reading man. A show. . . who loves to paint pictures of what I can''t see.

A husband, father, friend of the poor and sometimes the rich. An activist travelling salesman of ideas."

On 25 years of monogamy

"I wasn't set up for marriage. I was not the kind of person that any of my friends would say, 'He's the marrying kind'. But I met the most extraordinary woman, and I couldn't let her go. She has an incredible respect for my life, and she's a very independent spirit."

On Tony Blair

"He's a pretty good guitar player . . . plays every day, his missus told me. I checked his guitar case to see if it was in tune. It was, perfectly. But seriously, he and Gordon Brown could really change the world if they keep up their work in Africa. They can be the Lennon-McCartney of global development."

On George W Bush

"He was more amusing than I expected. . . quickwitted. I got quickly to the point, and the point was an unarguable one . . . that 6,500 people dying every day of a preventable and treatable disease would not be acceptable anywhere other than Africa, and that before God and history this was a kind of racism that was unacceptable. He said, 'In fact, it's a kind of genocide'."

On Mikhail Gorbachev

"I asked him: did he believe in God? He said: 'No, but I believe in the Universe'."

On dancing with that girl at Live Aid

"We both gave ourselves to a moment and a piece of television. I felt she was a gorgeous girl. I felt her sort of shaking a little bit in my arms. But she might as well have just been going: 'I wish this rock star would stop sweating on me. I wish he washed'."

On U2

"There's a joke in the band that goes: Edge wants to play the drums, Bono wants to play the guitar, Larry wants to be the singer, Adam. . . only wants to play the bass!"

On his sunglasses

"You don't know what's going on behind those glasses, but God, I assure you, does."

This is an edited extract from Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas, published by Hodder, 18.95