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"I like writing songs. I like writing words, but I don't enjoy making records." — Bono

Irish Pals Sink Their Teeth Into 'Peter and the Wolf'

USA Today
Since its debut in 1936, stars from Shakespearean actor John Gielgud to horror master Boris Karloff to rock legend David Bowie have narrated Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.

Add Irish musician and performance artist Gavin Friday and his famous lifelong friend, U2 lead singer Bono, to the list.

But they have not produced a rock 'n' roll version of the story of young Peter's encounter with the ravenous wolf.

Friday and musical partner Maurice Seezer have recorded a dark, acoustic version of Prokofiev's work that replaces orchestral instruments with a banjo, guitar, piano and other folk instruments. Friday is the narrator.

"Usually, what (children) are hearing is drum machines and Dr. Dre or heavy-metal guitars," he says via telephone from Dublin. What he and Seezer wanted to do is show "there's a few other instruments out there."

Bono, with two of his children, painted illustrations for a book that accompanies the Friday-Seezer Ensemble compact disc.

The paintings were inspired in part by the death in 2001 of Bono's father. Bono says his dad "was a beautiful tenor and loved music."

"Peter and the Wolf is about teaching kids music," Bono says. "So I put him in (the paintings) as the grandfather in the story -- living in the forest...And I put myself (in). I made it about family."

The CD-book package (Bloomsbury, $23.95) is scheduled to appear in U.S. book and record stores in early November. Bono's original paintings will be on display and then auctioned Nov. 21 at Christie's in New York. The CD-book also is available at www.peterwolf.org. The auction catalog and the chance to place bids for the auction also are on the Web site.

Profits from sales of the CD-book package and the paintings will go to the Dublin-based Irish Hospice Foundation, which plans to use the proceeds to train hospice caregivers in AIDS-ravaged Africa, the USA and elsewhere around the world.

"We're hoping this project gives us the chance to do much more on the international level," says Jean Manahan, CEO of the foundation. In Africa especially, she says, doctors and nurses have little training on how to care for terminally ill patients.

Friday founded the Irish punk group the Virgin Prunes. Since that band's breakup in 1985, he and Seezer have composed scores for movies, including In the Name of the Father, and have released three albums. They worked on a new arrangement for Peter and the Wolf while Friday was recuperating from back surgery in 2002.

Friday enlisted Bono's help in the Peter project when he was "up for Sunday lunch" at the U2 singer's Dublin home. The two have been friends since they were about 4.

When the hospice foundation suggested publishing a book to accompany the CD, Friday asked Bono to do the artwork. The singer has long painted in his spare time.

"And that," Friday says, "is how it happened -- a bad back and a Sunday lunch."



© USA Today, 2003.