Formation of U2:
U2 was officially formed in Dublin, Ireland September 25, 1976. 14-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. advertised on his secondary school bulletin board for musicians for a new band. Those in attendance at the resulting meeting included Bono (Paul Hewson), the Edge (David Evans), Adam Clayton, the Edge's brother Dik Evans, Ivan McCormick, and Peter Martin. The group settled on the name Feedback, McCormick and Martin were out within weeks, and the 5 remaining began to play as a group.
- Bono - Vocals
- The Edge - Guitar
- Adam Clayton - Bass
- Larry Mullen, Jr. - Drums
Within 18 months Feedback became the Hype. In March, 1978, the group played a Limerick, Ireland talent show that got the attention of CBS Records and an offer to record demos. The same month Dik Evans left the band, and the group switched their name to U2. The origin of the name U2 is shrouded in various legends and stories.
U2 signed a recording contract with Island in March, 1980, and their first album Boy was released in October, 1980 to strong critical acclaim.
Quote from U2's Bono:
Referring to his father in interview with Rolling Stone:
"By not encouraging me to be a musician, even though that's all he ever wanted to be, he's made me one. By telling me never to have big dreams or else, that to dream is to be disappointed, he made me have big dreams. By telling me that the band would only last five minutes or ten minutes -- we're still here."
US Pop Success:
Although U2's first three albums Boy, October, and War were critical successes and sold strongly in the UK, they did not break through to the US top 40 until "Pride (In the Name of Love)" from their 4th album, The Unforgettable Fire, released in 1984. The song was inspired by the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. In the summer of 1985 U2 gave one of the most memorable performances of the massive Live Aid concert event.
The Joshua Tree:
U2's next album did not appear until March, 1987. The album was instantly hailed by critics. "With or Without You," the first single from the album hit #1 on the US pop singles chart. The album also reached #1 and eventually won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. U2 became the 4th rock band in history featured on the cover of Time magazine after the Beatles, the Band, and the Who. The band set out on tour with a reputation as one of the world's greatest rock bands.
Top U2 Albums - US Sales Figures:
- 1987 - The Joshua Tree - 10 million copies sold
- 1991 - Achtung, Baby - 8 million copies sold
- 1988 - Rattle and Hum - 5 million copies sold
- 2000 - All That You Can't Leave Behind - 4 million copies sold
- 1983 - War - 4 million copies sold
Zoo TV and Pop Experiments:
After a retreat to rethink and retool, U2 returned in 1991 with the more experimental rock album Achtung, Baby. It was greeted as a classic and featured the hits "One" and "Mysterious Ways." The band embarked on the Zoo TV tour, a multimedia extravaganza. The album Zooropa, recorded during breaks in the tour and released in 1993, experimented with electronic music. After a break the band returned with 1997's techno/disco-oriented Pop and Popmart tour exploring themes of decadence.
Trivia Fact About U2:
Peter Rowan, the young boy featured on the original cover of the album Boy and the cover of the album War was the brother of a friend of Bono's.
Elder Statesmen of Rock:
After a decade of experimentation in the 1990's, U2 released the more traditional sounding All That You Can't Leave Behind in October, 2000 to massive international acclaim. The album debuted at #1 on the charts in 22 countries and was led by the jubilant single "Beautiful Day." Ultimately, All That You Can't Leave Behind won 6 Grammy Awards. U2 were selected to perform 3 songs at halftime during the 2002 Super Bowl game. They finished with "Where the Streets Have No Name" played as the names of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks scrolled behind them.
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was released in September, 2004 and cemented the band's status as elder rock statesmen even further. In March 2005 U2 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. The band recorded a new version of "One" with Mary J. Blige to help provide relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In early 2006 the band took home another 5 Grammy Awards.