A Dublin, Ireland, rock band - released their first studio album, Boy, in 1980. Of another ten albums, eight have topped the UK charts. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, their latest album, has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and won the Grammy for Album Of The Year.
Members: Bono (vocals / guitar / harmonica), The Edge (guitar / keyboards / vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen (drums / percussion).
Foundation: The band originally formed in 1976 when Larry Mullen posted a bulletin in his school asking for musicians to form a rock band. The band then consisted of the four current members plus three additional guitarists, including The Edge’s brother Dick Evans (later a member of Virgin Prunes), Ivan McCormick and Peter Martin. According to legend, Bono originally auditioned as a guitarist but couldn’t play. He auditioned as lead vocals, but really couldn’t sing. He was, however, incredibly enthusiastic about the band, extremely charismatic, a great writer, and was strangely able to reach the audience when the band played, something he is known for still today. Bono will reach out into the crowd and dance or mess with someone in the crowd at every concert. He was kept as a member. The extra guitarists would soon leave the band and the group would go through the names “Feedback ” and “The Hype” before finally settling on U2.
The 70s & 80s: 1978 was a jumping point year for the band, finally finding their sound / voice. U2 won a talent contest in 1978: £500 and funds to make a record. Paul McGuinness became the band’s manager and U2 released an EP called Three and the single Another Day, the following year. U2 went on to release their first album, Boy and then more critically acclaimed albums incl.: War, The Unforgettable Fire(featuring the song MLK dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr), October and Under a Blood Red Sky. Seen by many as a political band with more charisma than others, they were called “a different kind” of band. After a short break U2 returned with Joshua Tree & the USA music inspired Rattle and Hum (also a movie of the same name, based on the tour).
The 90s: Promising ”to dream it all up again”, they added industrial and dance styles to their music. Trying to drop a goody two shoes image, they went to Berlin (Germany), supposedly to develop new self-expressions. From there they started to make fun of themselves and had a good time of it in albums like Zooropa and Achtung Baby (meaning ”watch out, baby”, artwork feat. make-up artist Nassim Khalifa). Bono took on many stage personae such as “The Fly”, “Mirrorball Man” and “Mr. MacPhisto” for the gigantic ZOO TV Tour. Later they continued to make fun of Pop culture and all its extremes with the album Pop and consequent PopMart tour which was announced to be launched at a Kmart store and included a giant golden arch across the stage.
The 00s: At the end of the 90’s into 00’s U2 became less Image and more reality. With the death of Bono’s good friend Michael Hutchence the lead singer of INXS, Bono wrote more songs from the heart surrounding ideas like life and death, children, hope, and the real world past all the pop culture and TV. Some say they’ve returned to a more band-centric sound with albums like All That You Can’t Leave Behind which features a song, Kite, dedicated to Bono’s father who passed away shortly after the album’s conception and 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
The Name: There are many theories as to the origin of the name U2. For example, U2 was an intelligence airplane that was in use by the United States during the Cold War. Other obvious candidates include “You too” and “You two”, etc. Nonetheless the official line on the name’s origins remains unknown. The band has been quoted as saying that they did think of the U2 spy plane, but remain hushed about other reasons…