Irish rock band U2 began its tale when in autumn 1976, the 14-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on his secondary school, Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, bulletin board, seeking musicians for a new band. Four friends responded and joined up, they were Bono (b. Paul David Hewson on May 10, 1960, in Dublin, Eire); Dave Evans (aka the Edge, b. August 8, 1961, in Barking, Essex, England); Dik Evans who is the brother of David "the Edge" Evans; and Adam Clayton (b. March 13, 1960, in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England). All of the joined personnel resulted in a 5-piece band, known at the time as Feedback, consisting of Mullen (b. March 13, 1960, in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England) on drums, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, Bono on vocals, and Dave Evans and his brother Dik on guitar.
After 18 months of practice, the band decided to change their name into The Hype. And so they started to perform with their new name at a talent show in Limerick, Ireland on March 17, 1978. As fate would have it, they won the talent contest and brought home 500 prizes. Happened by chance, one of the judges of the show happened to be the CBS Records' Jackie Hayden, who was impressed with the band that he later gave them studio time to record their first demo. Sadly, the demo wasn't a great success because the Hype was still an amateur and that lack in experience and studio time even combining to hamper their efforts. It's just a start anyway. At almost the same time, many started to critic the band's name. One of the many was the Dublin punk rock guru Steve Averill, better known as Steve Rapid of The Radiators from Space, who recommended that "The Hype stinks, at least as a name."
At time within, someone offered the name U2, which actually is the name of a spy-plane and a submarine. For the same name, some other suggested the meaning is based on the band philosophy. By means of which they believe that the audience is part of their music and the concert and that "you too" (U2) are participating in the music. Accordingly, the band took the name up and started to use the name U2 in 1978. Soon after, in March that year Dik Evans announced his departure. To mark the leave, the band's members performed a farewell show for him at the Community Centre in Howth, in which Dik walked offstage halfway through the set and later joined The Virgin Prunes, a fellow Dublin band. By and by, U2 reputation for intense and electrifying live shows had soon built up a dedicated following of fans. One of the fans played an important part in the band tale is Bill Graham, a journalist with the music paper 'Hot Press', who was an early champion of the band and also introduced them to their manager, Paul McGuinness.
In May 1978, Paul McGuinness became U2's manager, brought them to a three-year contract with CBS Ireland. The fruit of the sign appeared in September of 1979 when U2 released a three song EP entitled 'U23' comprising "Out of Control," "Boy/Girl," and "Stories for Boys." A second single soon followed and the band later signed a worldwide contract with Island Records in March 1980. Having secured the all-important record deal, U2 released their 1st album "Boy," which upon its release in October 1980 received widespread critical acclaim. In an attempt to promote the new album, in December the same year the guys traveled to London held their first tour outside the U.K., but failed to get much attention from the foreign audiences and critics. To cover up the flop, U2 made its first appearance on US television on the "The Tomorrow Show" hosted by Tom Snyder. On the show aired on June 4, 1981, they performed "I Will Follow," and "Twilight," along with an interview.
U2's 2nd album "October" was released in 1981 and was a much more pleasant, smooth and spiritual, that reflected the Christian beliefs of Bono, Edge and Larry. Fans and critics soon responded the band's spiritual lyrics. Nonetheless, all the three devoted Christians could at last find the way to reconcile Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle to make music without compromising their personal beliefs. Hence, U2 continued to work on their next record, their third one called "War" released in March 1983. This time on, the band used such extent of images, focusing their songs on dogmatic anger, and turned it into a call for all Christians to unite and claim the victory over death and evil Christ has achieved through His resurrection. Even not supposing as one of U2's best songs, "War" was generally considered as one of the most fascinating examples of their linguistic abilities. As an obvious evidence, the album's first single titled "New Year's Day" had become the group's first international hit single, reaching the #10 position on the U.K. charts and nearly hitting the Top 50 on the U.S. charts. Even more, MTV, too, put the single's video into heavy rotation, which indirectly helped introduce U2 to the American audience. As a consequence, U2 for their very first time began all-sold-out concerts in mainland Europe and the U.S., two places where the songs of the mini Live LP "Under a Blood Red Sky" were recorded and which was later followed with the release of a live video.
In the wake of their last project, U2 began working on their 4th studio album with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. At this point on, the band had discovered a distinct change in direction towards a more complex style, moving away from the 'anthems' of the "War" era. Their 4th experimental studio album dubbed "The Unforgettable Fire", named after a series of paintings made by survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was released in 1984. "Pride (In the Name of Love)", a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. featured in the album, was released as its first single and was cracking the U.K. Top 5 and the U.S Top 50. On top of that, the release of "The Unforgettable Fire" had represented the band's turning point as Bono's lyrics became more complex, subtle and experimental, the Edge's guitar explored new sonic landscapes, and the rhythm section got looser and funkier. Despite such improvement, the material was still no less political for the album's single "MLK" was also honoring the civil rights leader, "Indian Summer Sky" a social commentary on the prison-like atmosphere of city living in a world of natural forces, and the album title itself was actually inspired by the title of a photo exhibit portraying imaging of the repercussions of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki topped on display at the Chicago Peace Museum in the mid-80's.
A tour to promote the album was held and aside from the small problems incorporating the newer songs into the band's live set, the material was well received on the subsequent European and US tours. In companion with the tour, U2 outed the mini LP "Wide Awake in America" in 1985, which contained two new tracks and two live recordings from the European tour. That being so, in April 1985 the Rolling Stones magazine named U2 "The Band of The Eighties," saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 has become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters." In July later that year, the music act went to play in the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in London, where they gave a memorable performance, as the song 'Bad' over-ran to about 12 minutes. Though the concert was a success proven by the more than a billion viewers worldwide, Bono once considered leaving the band because he feared that his antics during that show, dancing with girls from the audience while leaving the band to play on regardless, had ruined the set. Yet, he didn't do so as a friend told him that it was one of the high points of the day.
The following year in 1986, U2 played a Self Aid, a benefit dedicated for Ireland's unemployed, and joined the Conspiracy of Hope tour for Amnesty International. The tour was, to note, a 6-show tour across the U.S. performed to sold-out arenas and stadiums, and helped Amnesty International triple its membership in the process. In March the following year, the group unveiled their 7th LP titled "The Joshua Tree," which was their another collaboration with Eno and Lanois. This LP, indeed, was the band's most successful record to date, becoming the fastest selling record ever in the UK upon its release, and reaching #1 in 22 countries. The album spawned such hit singles, as "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," both of which quickly went to #1 in the U.S.. Upon such achievement, U2 had, at that point, become the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine; the previous three had been The Beatles, The Band, and The Who; declaring that U2 was "Rock's Hottest Ticket."
As then for their 3rd time, U2 embarked some shows as a country and western band known as The Dalton Brothers. During the tour, the band agreed to choose director Phil Joanou to put together a film which would capture the live shows and also depict the band's perceptions of America. Shot chiefly in Denver, Colorado, the resulting movie titled "Rattle and Hum" and an LP of the same name were both put on sale in October 1988. "Desire," the single taken from the LP gave U2 their first UK #1 single. Also included on the record was "When Love Comes to Town" featured blues legend B.B. King, who later joined U2 on the Love Town tour which concentrated on Australia, New Zealand and Japan. On top of that, the LP "Rattle and Hum" had become a tribute to American music, mainly because it was recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, performed with Bob Dylan and B.B. King, sang about blues great Billie Holiday, and covered The Beatles. However, apart from the positive response, "Rattle and Hum" was widely lambasted by critics for being chichi and for attempting to place U2 in with the musical greats.
At the end of 1980s U2 played a series of four concerts at The Point Depot in Dublin, culminating with a show on New Year's Eve, which was broadcast throughout the world. It was this time that Bono announced it was "time to go away and dream it all up again," which soon led many to believe that U2 did nearly come to its end. Nevertheless, after taking some time off, the band's members were all met in Berlin in late 1990 to begin working on their next studio album, this time again with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. The inspirational completion of the hit song "One" encouraged U2 to emerge from the studio with renewed energy and a new album under its belt. At last, in November of 1991, the band launched their "Achtung Baby", which release was enthusiastically received by fans and critics, and all at once made false people's fears of the band's split.
As a part of the album promotion, in early 1992 U2 began its first American tour in more than four years dubbed "Zoo TV" tour, in which they used giant video screens to create a stunning visual spectacle while at the end of each show Bono attempted to call VIPs such as Bill Clinton, Luciano Pavarotti, or Princess Diana. As a matter of fact, the tour was actually aimed to mock the excesses of rock and roll, by appearing to embrace greed and decadence - even at times, away from the stage. Unfortunately, some had misinterpreted the point of the tour and tend to think that U2 had "lost it" and that Bono had become an egomaniac. This phenomenon raised a new idea for the band to go back into the studio and record their next release during a break in the "Zoo TV" tour. The album "Zooropa" was, at first, intended as an additional EP to "Achtung Baby," but it soon expanded into a full-fledged LP and released in July of 1993. This album, in comparison, was greater than the band's previous for it incorporating techno style and other electronic effects. Sad to say, "Zooropa" was a commercial flop that it was called U2's most experimental work to date.
It took nearly 4 years before U2 outed their next LP, despite the fact that they continued working on various side projects. The band once worked on the single "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" which was used as "Batman Forever" soundtrack, while Larry and Adam personally worked on the "Mission Impossible" soundtrack, and Bono and the Edge wrote the song "GoldenEye" for the James Bond movie of the same name, which was performed by Tina Turner. To add, U2 also contributed songs to good causes, such as the AIDS fundraiser "Red, Hot and Blue" and "A Very Special Christmas." After the few side projects, the band returned with Brian Eno under the moniker "Passengers" to release an experimental album called "Original Soundtracks No. 1" (1995). The album, consists of a collaboration with Pavarotti on "Miss Sarajevo", was not too success and received only little attention from the critics and public alike. Next, in 1996 U2 began working on their another record "Pop," which was later put on sale in March 1997. The album debuted at #1 in 28 countries and earned the band widely positive critical praise that the Rolling Stone Magazine even went claiming U2 had "defied the odds and made some of the greatest music of their lives." Apart from such attainment, fans and audiences tend to perceive "Pop" as something disappointing. This was explained by U2 as the album's weakness caused by the time constraint placed upon them by the impending "Popmart World Tour."
In a further explanation, U2 admitted they were hurried into completing the album so that a number of tracks on it couldn't well finish as they would like to do. As a consequence, "Gone"; "Discotique"; and "Starring At The Sun", all the three tracks from "Pop" set to feature on U2's 2nd greatest hits album "The Best of 1990-2000," were all remixed for inclusion on that album. Shortly after, U2 embarked on their "Popmart Tour" and they once again continued the "Zoo TV" theme of decadence. The show later hit the road in April 1997 and included a 100-foot tall golden yellow arch, a large 150-foot long video screen, and a 35-foot tall mirrorball lemon. "Popmart Tour" was once reported to be the second-highest grossing tour of 1997 behind The Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon Tour," with revenues of just under $80 million, but it cost more than $100 million to produce. In succession, the band then played a brief concert in Belfast in May of 1998 followed thereafter by a performance on an Irish TV fundraiser for victims of the Omagh, Northern Ireland bombing which killed 28 and injured hundreds earlier in the year. To mark the end of the year, the band released its first greatest hits compilation "The Best of 1980-1990."
Early in 1999, U2 went back to the studio with, again, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. During this recording process, the band collaborated with author Salman Rushdie, who wrote the lyrics of song called "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" based on his book of the same name. The song, in addition to others, eventually appeared on the soundtrack to "The Million Dollar Hote," a movie based on a story written by Bono. On October 30th the next year, U2 released a new LP dubbed "All That You Can't Leave Behind," which soon climbed to number 31st in the US charts. Unlike "Pop," this new record was received widely and considered by many as U2's "third masterpiece" after "Acthung Baby" and "The Joshua Tree." By and by, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" was debuted at #1 in 22 countries, with its worldwide hit single "Beautiful Day" earned three Grammy Awards. In support to the album's success, the band held the "Elevation" tour, kicked off in Florida on March 24th, 2001 and covered North America, Europe, and then back to North America. Unfortunately, upon their touring in the latter country, there were terrorist attacks there (September 11, 2001) that forced them to halt the gig before then continued it all over again, beginning the second American leg of the tour at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, home of the "Fighting Irish." To sum up, the "Elevation" tour was, in fact, the top concert draw in North America, where the band's 80 shows grossed $110 million, the second-highest total behind The Rolling Stones' "Voodoo Lounge Tour" in 1994.
After the "Elevation" tour ended in late 2001, the climax of U2's resurrection came when the band performed a spectacular three-song set "Beautiful Day", "MLK" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" in New Orleans, Louisiana, during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI, held on February 3, 2002. Few months after, the band's album "All That You Can't Leave Behind" received four more Grammy Awards and soon followed by the release of the group's greatest hits collection "The Best of 1999-2000" in late that year. Included in the new set was dance artist LMC sampled "With or Without You" for their track "Take Me To The Clouds Above" which features lyrics from "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston.
One year later, in July 2004, U2 got struck in a sudden incident, in which a rough-cut of the band's follow-up album was stolen in Nice, France. A quick step was took with Bono saying that should the album appear on P2P networks, it would be released immediately via iTunes and be in stores within a month. In another first, the band allowed the first single of the album titled "Vertigo" to be used in a widely aired iTunes television commercial though they did not receive any royalties for it. Due to the commercial, the song was well known even before it was released on September 24 later that year, leading the track to receive extensive airplay in its first week of release and debut at #18 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, #46 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the UK Singles Chart, and #5 on the Australian ARIAnet singles chart. The album, titled "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," was released on November 22 outside US and November 23 in the United States. The effort could successfully debuted at #1 in 32 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the band's native Ireland and sold 840,000 units in the United States in its first week. This was, actually, a record for the band, nearly doubling the first-week sales of "All That You Can't Leave Behind" in the USA. To support the album sales, U2 made appearances on TV shows, like "CD:UK" and "The Jonathan Ross Show" in Britain and "Saturday Night Live" (SNL) in America. The band later on made a video for the second North American single, "All Because Of You," while riding on a flatbed truck through the streets of Manhattan on November 22. They then played a free concert at a Brooklyn Park, attracting over 3,000 fans who had learned about the show on various U2 fan's websites.
The many good deeds in music U2 had done since it was first formed in April 2004 among other was included in the Rolling Stone magazine's list of 50 "Greatest Rock & Roll Artists of All Time." In addition, on March 14, 2005 the band was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Besides their band-project, members of the music group also worked with other musicians, such as the Irish band Clannad, with whom Bono recorded the song "In A Lifetime." On top of that, U2 also had a big influence on artists of various kinds, like the Austrian painter Kave Atefie, who dedicated successfully two art-series, "Like a promise in the year of election" and "Outside it's America", to the work of the Irish band. Aside from their music career, U2 is also well known for its humanitarian nature. Bono, for instance, is the best-known advocate for finding a cure for AIDS and helping the impoverished in Africa. Some other human rights causes helped by U2 include: Amnesty International, Greenpeace, African Well Fund, Support for Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa), Chernobyl Children's Project, and Jubilee Debt Campaign.
Underwent such hectic schedules concerning their 2006 portion of mega-successful "Vertigo" world tour, the band satisfyingly secured double nominations for the Brit Awards which was about to be held on February 15, 2006 in London's Earl Court venue. In the meantime, they also took home five trophies at the 48th annual Grammys, particularly that of Best Rock Album and Album of the Year for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", Best Rock Song for "City of Blinding Lights", Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and Song of the Year both for "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own". Following the many achievements, the group set back to work on a new album, while also was having a music project together with punk rock trio Green Day, recording a track on a cover of "The Saints Are Coming", a song which was originally released by the Scottish punk band The Skids, which was expected to raise money for Music Rising, a charity seeking to benefit the musicians devastated by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The band did not release any album more than four years after releasing their eleventh studio album. And finally, in February 2009, their twelfth studio album "No Line on the Horizon" made its way out to stores. In support of the album, the band embarked on a tour called "U2 360" tour, marking their first live venture with Live Nation. The tour set a new record for the highest-grossing concert tour with $736 million and highest-attended tour (7.3 million tickets sold).
Following the success of "No Line on the Horizon", U2 announced that they had already started working for their follow-up album. In the meantime, frontman Bono made an appearance in movie "Across the Universe", performing some of The Beatles' songs. Their thirteenth studio album, "Songs of Innocence", was released in 2014 after the band released two songs "Ordinary Love" and "Invisible" in the previous year.
The release of "Songs of Innocence" was dubbed "the largest album release of all time" by Apple CEO Tim Cook. The effort, which Bono described as "the most personal album we've written," received mixed reviews and gained criticism for its digital release strategy, in which it was automatically added to people's iTunes accounts.
U2 delayed the tour for "Songs of Innocence" after Bono suffered severe injuries following a bicycle accident in Central on November 16. The band finally embarked on "Innocence + Experience" tour in May 2015. The final date of the tour, which was December 7 in Paris, was broadcast on HBO. The band later announced the follow-up effort of "Songs of Innocence" in the following year, stating that the title would be "Songs of Experience".
The band had mostly done working on the album, but they decided to delay its release as there were some global politics events that happened in 2016. Making it up for the fans, U2 held a tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "The Joshua Tree". In December 2017, the band finally released "Songs of Experience" with lead track "You're the Best Thing About Me". The set debuted atop Billboard 200 chart with 186,000 units, marking their eighth No. 1 album.