SO who's the most important member of U2 according to the ones who matter most - the group's fans? It's not Bono, which may or may not surprise, but rather the honor goes to lead guitarist Edge, whose mastery goes a long, long way towards providing that distinctive U2 sound.

According to a press release we received on Monday, a total of 4,159 fans from all parts of the planet took part in a survey conducted by the fan site @U2, which bills itself as the oldest independent U2 website. (It is, of course, separate and unaffiliated with the band's official site at

U2 fans were asked if U2 should continue if one member left the band. The Edge was the pick as the most indispensable member of U2, with only 4.9% of fans saying U2 should continue if he were to quit. By comparison, 5.8% of U2 fans think U2 should go on if Bono were to leave the band.

The fans cited the U2 classic Achtung Baby as their favorite release, easily beating out The Joshua Tree.

"With more than 75 countries represented, and more than 4,100 fans voting, we feel the survey is statistically representative of U2's online fans as a whole," said @U2 founder and editor Matt McGee. "The survey gives a great overview of what U2's fans think about things both serious and lighthearted. There's some great information in here for both casual and serious U2 fans."

Other stuff gleaned from the survey? Some 11% of fans said they weren't in favor of Bono's well-publicized political activism, or didn't pay attention to it at all. And almost 32% of those polled said Bono did "too much preaching" during the band's most recent "Vertigo" tour.

Said fans who don't give a hoot about Bono's work on behalf of the poor and diseased in Africa probably won't be lining up to support his latest venture. Bono has designed a socially conscious t-shirt produced by his wife Ali's socially conscious design company Edun, and profits will be donated to African cotton farmers and garment workers.

The shirt, which sells for $26 or $28, is available exclusively through the Hard Rock Caf chain of restaurants, or through the website www.hardrock. com/rockshop, if you're interested. The sale started on Monday.