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See U2′s ‘Boy’ Cover Model All Grown Up

Boy Peter Rowen War
Island Records,

Posing for one album cover is rare, but to be on three is almost unthinkable. As a child, Peter Rowen, a Dublin-based photographer appeared three times on the cover of albums by U2.

Rowen knew the band through his older brother Guggi, who was friends with Bono. That led to the cover of their 1979 debut EP, ‘Three,’ which was released only in their native Ireland, followed a year later by their first full-length album, ‘Boy.’ In North America the cover was changed to a distorted black-and-white photo of the band. Still, that didn’t dissuade them from using Rowen again tin 1983 for ‘War.’

The black-and-white shots for ‘Boy’ and ‘War’ are virtually identical: a shirtless Rowen with his hands behind his head looking straight into the camera. But its subject notes the difference in the two. “Technically, they’re very simple pictures, but they’re powerful,” he told the New York Post. “What’s important about a picture is atmosphere and feeling. I gather the whole idea of ‘Boy’ was the innocence of youth. ‘War’ shows a much more disturbed-looking child, and I guess shows what the world can do to a child — a loss of innocence.”

Coincidentally, Rowen returned the favor in 2001 when he was hired by a newspaper to shoot their concert at Slane Castle. “I was in the pit with all the press photographers,” he continued. “The band wouldn’t have known I was there. At one point, Bono was lying on the stage right in front of me, which was kinda funny.”

Despite his integral role in the early years of one of the most successful bands of all-time, Rowen has never used that connection to his advantage. “The connection I had with them was when I was a child,” He said. “I know them to say hi and they are always nice to me. They’re older than me, so I would never have hung around with them…The funny thing is, I never used it for pulling the birds. I would have felt an idiot trying to use it as a chat-up line. It’s a bit cringey, you know: ‘I was on the U2 album covers.’ ‘Were you? So what!’”

TheFW is running a series where they track down album cover models of the past. Other albums include Blink 182′s ‘Enema of the State,’ Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Houses of the Holy‘ and Nirvana‘s ‘Nevermind.’

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