- Irish rock band from Dublin formed in 1976. The members of the band are Bono (real name Paul Hewson, lead vocals, rhythm guitar), The Edge (real name David Evans, lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums).
- In September 1976, 14 year old Larry Mullen posted a note on his school bulletin board looking for musicians for a band. Six people responded – Hewson, Evans, Clayton, and 3 others. They practiced in Mullen’s kitchen, going by the name Feedback, playing cover punk songs. Two of the members left soon after the band formed. Their first paying show was at an all boys catholic high school in Dublin in April 1977. Soon after the show, they changed their name to The Hype.
- In March 1978, they changed their name to U2, and competed in a talent contest as a foursome – the fifth member, The Edge’s older brother, was about to be phased out. They won the contest and first prize included studio time to record a demo, which would be heard by a record label. The demo was made the next month, but they were not very good.
- The band caught the attention of a Irish music magazine called Hot Press, and one of the journalists for the magazine put them in contact with a manager. This manager worked to get a record deal for the band. Meanwhile, U2’s popularity in Ireland continued to grow. In August 1979, they recorded a 3 song EP, and CBS records released it in Ireland only. All 1,000 copies sold out immediately. Their first concert outside of Ireland was in London in late 1979 – the show did not gain them much attention. In February 1980, a single was released in Ireland only, and the band wrapped up an Irish tour at a 2,000 seat venue. A record company representative was at the show, and was impressed, signing them to a new record deal.
- In May 1980, their first international single was released. Called 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, it did not chart. In October, their debut album, Boy, was released. It included the first song to receive airplay in the U.S., I Will Follow. The band toured to promote the album, generating a reputation as a great live band.
- The second album, October, was released in 1981. The singles were only successful in Ireland, and the album did not chart highly in the U.S. They were disappointed in the development of their careers, and they committed to improve.
- The album War was released in 1983, with the lead single New Year’s Day released on January 1. The album was a breakthrough for them, peaking at #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S., and at #1 in the UK. The album included the U2 signature song, Sunday Bloody Sunday. It sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. and 11 million worldwide.
- They began a string of hugely successful albums. The Unforgettable Fire had a more experimental sound compared to the rock of their previous albums. The single from this album, Pride (In the Name of Love), was their first top 40 hit in the U.S. Five #1 albums followed from 1987 to 1997. Their biggest album, The Joshua Tree, sold 25 million copies worldwide, and sales of Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby exceeded 14 million each. Singles from these albums are legendary – With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Where the Streets Have No Name, Desire, and Mysterious Ways are all rock classics.
- Their album releases from 2000 to today also have been highly successful. Their concerts are extravagant and considered must see events for music fans.
- They have sold more than 170 million records worldwide, making them one of the best selling artists in music history. Through 2016, they have grossed $1.67 billion in concert ticket sales, second only the The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine places them at #22 of the Greatest Artists of All Time, and 8 of their songs are listed in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Five albums are on the Greatest Albums list. They have won 22 Grammy awards, more than any other group. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
- I’ve had the pleasure of watching them perform twice. Their shows are unforgettable spectacles. I have so many songs that are “best ever” – I gotta pick one here, so I’ll go with Beautiful Day. Enjoy.
2 thoughts on “U2”
Just watched a documentary on The Edge with Jimmy Page….they are amazing guitar players! U2 ROCKS!
My favorite!!! Fun to read about their start. Pretty cool how young they were when they started playing together.