The changing nature in the taste of most music lovers from one genre of music to another certainly did not affect the activity and passion for music by the iconic Irish rock band, U2. From the early 1950’s where punk rock, classical and jazz music reigned as the genre of music preferred by many and music was considered a cultural universal, there were over 1,000 groups of musicians every year across the continents emerging in what seemed to be a yet well-structured industry.
The rise or fall of a band in the mid-1900s, had more to do with the genre of music and in what location bands arose and toured rather than the members of the band. The same could be said about the Irish post punk band.
U2’s lineup consists of the following brilliant musicians:
- Bono (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist)
- The Edge (keyboardist, lead guitarist and backing vocalist)
- Adam Clayton (bass guitarist)
- Mullen Jr. (drummer)
History of U2
The band was formed in 1976 in Dublin, Ireland, when 14-year-old Lawrence Mullen from Artane, put a notice on the school board in Mount Temple School. In the notice, he was searching for musicians to form a boy band. This was after being advised by his father to use his talent.
For his auditions, Larry’s parents gave him their kitchen down in a house in Artane as his audition center. The people who showed up for that first meeting numbered 7, including Larry himself on drums, Bono, Edge and his brother Dik Evans.
Adam Clayton as well as Peter Martin and one Ivan McCormick also showed up.
The group first settled on the name “Feedback” deriving it from the technical music term they knew. They initially covered several songs and were influenced by punk rock acts including the Clash, Sex Pistols, the Jam and Buzzcocks. Peter and Ivan played in the band for less than a year.
Feedback landed their first gig in April 1977, playing at St. Fintan’s High School. Soon afterwards, they changed their name to “The Hype”. Evans, during this time was attending college and dropped out of the band.
By March 1978, they had become a four-piece ensemble, and finally settled on the name ‘U2’.
Within that same month, the group won a talent competition. They were soon introduced to Paul McGuiness who became their manager. After performing at the 2,000-seater stadium in Dublin during their Irish tour, in February 1980, they caught the attention of Island Records.
U2 signed a four-year, four-album contract with the record label, which covered a £50,000 advance as well as a £50,000 in support of their tours. By the end of 1980, four years after emerging out of nowhere, the band had established itself as one of the world’s most popular, creative and innovative bands making them one of the preferred bands in Europe through to other parts of the world.
Their debut album, Boy was released in October 1980 and reached number 52 in the UK and 63 in the United States. In 1981, the band released another album titled October, then another after two years titled, War. As a success, War became their first album to reach number one in the UK and a blossoming number 12 in the US.
The album yielded the popular songs “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day”. The band recorded the live album “Under a Blood Red sky” and a concert film, U2 Live at Red Rocks which like the magic of the group sold well and established them globally. They were more popularly known for their live performances than the release of albums worldwide. That analogy quickly changed when they released their album “The Joshua Tree” in 1987.
Facts about U2
As of 2021, U2 have sold between 150 and 170 million records worldwide, putting them in the list of the best-selling music artists in history. Ranked as the 22nd highest selling music artist in the US, 8 of their albums have reached number one in the United States making them the third group to ever gain that. In their home country of Ireland, the band holds the record for the most number-one singles with 19.
U2 has won several awards over the span of their music career. They first received a Grammy Award in 1988 for the Joshua Tree album.
U2 as a band is heavily invested in charities and has performed at several benefit concerts including Band Aid, Live Aid, Self Aid, Conspiracy of Hope, among others.
Their Joshua Tree album was initially titled, “The Two Americas”
Bono is hardly seen publicly without sunglasses due to the fact that he suffers from glaucoma.
All four members of the band appeared on a series of postage stamps in 2002, in Ireland.
The band is noted for being involved in human rights advocates including those with Amnesty International and War Child.
Notable U2 Songs
- “The Hands That Built America“
- “One Tree Hill“
- “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For“
- “In God’s Country“
- “With or Without You“
- “Sunday Bloody Sunday“
- “New Year’s Day“
- “Beautiful Day“
- “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight“
- “City of Blinding Lights”
- “Put ‘Em Under Pressure“
- “Van Diemen’s Land“
As of this writing, U2 and all its four members remain active in the music scene, with their most recent 2019 shows grossing at least $73 million with more than 567,000 tickets sold. To be able to achieve this level of greatness in the most competitive industry in the world, while avoiding the walls of plateau through various caveats in their career is nothing short of the term, Legendary.