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U2 - biography & albums

Article added in February 2001
All That You Can't Leave Behind, includes the 2001 Grammy Award winning track Beautiful Day. Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Universal/Interscope/Island, October 2000. Get the CD from,,
U2 are at the top again. At the 2001 Grammy Awards, the four autodidact musicians won three prizes for the track Beautiful Day from their current album All That You Can't Leave Behind: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
U2 is unique because no one has ever left or joined the band. It consists of Bono (Paul Hewson, 1960) on vocals and guitar, Adam Clayton (1961) on bass, Larry Mullen Jr. (1961) on drums and The Edge (David Evans, 1961) on guitar and piano.
U2 was formed in Dublin in 1976. The 14-year old teenager Larry Mullen Jr. posted a note on the bulletin board at Dublin's Mount Temple School seeking musicians for a new band. At Mullen's home, a first group called Feedback was formed, with Mullen, Adam Clayton, Paul Hewson and Dave Evans and his brother Dick (on guitar).
In 1977, Feedback changed their name to The Hype. They performed at youth clubs. After Dick left Feedback to join the Dublin band the Virgin Prunes, The Hype changed their name to U2. In March 1978, they won a talent competition in Limerick, Ireland, with the CBS Records representative Jackie Hayden as a judge. U2 won, Paul McGuinness took over the management of the band and, in September 1978, they recorded their first demo tape at the Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin. But the group did not manage to get a record deal yet.
The band members were now out of school and played numerous concerts in the Dublin area, building a fan base. After a sesssion for Radio 2 Irish in the summer of 1979, their  first single U2:3, released only in Ireland, rose to #1 in the national charts. U2 became the "most popular band in Ireland" (Hot Press). In December, they traveled to London, were mistakenly announced as V2 at the punk-pub Hope And Anchor and, allegedly, only attracted nine visitors. Not only fans, but also music critics were hard to convince in England.
In February 1980, the journalist Chas de Whalley, who had organized the demo session two years ago, produced Another Day, which became another #1 for U2 in Ireland. In April 1980 , Chris Blackwell signed the band to Island Records and, in May and October, released 11 O'clock Tick Tock, A Day Without Me and I Will Follow, three flops.
Under the guidance of Steve Lillywhite, U2 concentrated on their album Boy, which remained unnoticed at its release in October 1980. U2 toured tirelessly and played as support for Talking Heads. In February 1981, Boy (US#95, UK#21) appeared in the US top 100 for three weeks and, half a year later, the U2 craze began in the UK. The singles Fire (UK#20) and Gloria (UK#23) prepared the ground for the second album, also produced by Lillywhite.
October was released in October 1981 and reached UK#11. Bono, The Edge and Larry had joined Shalom, a religious group in Dublin. The three questioned the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle - and came to the conclusion that it was compatible and continued as a band. But according to some, the band's confusion resulted in an "unfocused" album, October, which, therefore, produced no hit single. In April 1982 followed the release of the song A Celebration (UK#29), which was part of no LP.

The Edge & Billie. Photo © Universal Music 2006. - Sheet music by U2.
U2 toured around the globe and, again with Lillywhite as producer, released the political album War (UK#3, US#9, Germany#59) in March 1983. Its songs New Years Day (UK#9), Two Hearts Beat As One (UK#13) and Sunday Bloody Sunday stand out. In the United States, U2 attracted audiences up to 50,000 people.
In November 1983, U2 released Under A Blood Red Sky (UK#1, US#28), a live recording of their concert at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater and The Unforgettable (UK#1, US#12, Germany#14) with its hit singles Pride (UK#2) and The Unforgettable Fire (UK#4). Pride became U2's biggest single until then and the album entered the charts at #1. The studio album, produced with the help of Brian Eno (who was responsible for the electronic and orchestral elements) and Daniel Lanois (Neville Brothers) was named named after a series of paintings drawn by survivors of the atomic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Unforgettable Fire was the beginning of a new era for the band. The Rolling Stone writers' poll named U2 1983's Band Of The Year.
U2 invested in the Windham Hill Studios, directed by Bono and helped groups like Tua Nua, Cactus World News, Painted Word and Hothouse Flowers. Their albums were distributed through U2's own label Mother Records. U2 were part of Band Aid, Live Aid, supported Amnesty International and Artists United Against Apartheid. In 1986, U2 founded Self Aid, a foundation with the mission to fight unemployment.
The Edge wrote the soundtrack for The Captive together with Sinead O'Connor. In September 1986, U2 performed together with Bruce Springsteen. In February 1987, U2 embarked on a world tour, presenting their new studio album, The Joshua Tree (UK#1, US#1, Germany#1). It included the hits With Or Without You (UK#6, US#6, Germany#7) and Where The Streets have No Name (UK#4, US#13, Germany#44). The Joshua Tree sold over 15 million copies, reached #1 in 22 countries and was widely acclaimed by critics. Time magazine even put U2 on its cover. The world tour was sold out.

In 1988, U2 received the Brit Award as Best International Band and, a month later in New York, two Grammies for Album of the Year and Best Rock Vocal Group. The same year, Bono and The Edge supported the comeback of Roy Orbison. In October, the single Desire (UK1, US3, Germany#9) was released. In November followed the double album Rattle And Hum (UK#1, US#1, Germany#1), which did not include Desire. Critics called the double album " pretentious" and "excessive" and it introduced the U2 backlash. But its singles sold well too: When Love Comes to Town (UK#6, US#68) with R&B star B.B. King, Angel of Harlem (UK#9, US#14, Germany#31) and All I Want Is You (UK#4, US#83). It was a modern blues-rock-album. Rattle And Hum was produced by Jimmy Iovine.
In August 1989, Clayton was caught with hashish. He was lucky to get away with a fine. During the tour, Clayton caused more trouble with his alcohol addiction. Bono had problems with his vocal cords. Three concerts in Australia had to be canceled.
In Spring 1990, the four musicians temporarily went separate ways. The Edge composed the official Irish soccer/football World Championship record, together with Larry Mullen. Later, he wrote stage versions of A Clockwork Orange for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Bono went to Hollywood.
In late 1990, the band were together again, working in Berlin and Dublin on their new album Achtung Baby, once more with the help of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. In November 1991, the single The Fly (UK#1, US#61, Germany#5) was released. When the album came on the market, the selling of the single was stopped - again a well-carved marketing-strategy was put in action. Achtung Baby presented a new U2, with techno dance beats and psychedelic, industrial guitars; it reacted to the German reunification. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide. At intervals of eight weeks, the album's singles were released: Mysterious Ways (UK#13, US#9, Germany#46), One (UK#7, US#10, Germany#50), Even Better Than The Real Thing (UK#8, US#32, Germany#28) and Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (UK#14, US#35, Germany#48).
In early 1992, together with 120 men, U2 toured five continents under the theme of Zoo TV. During a break in the nearly two-year long tour, U2 went back to the recording studio. Zooropa, inspired by the 1960s, 1970s and even country music, was released in 1993. Produced by The Edge, Brian Eno and U2's longtime engineer Flood, Zooropa includes the singles Numb and Lemonand Stay (Faraway So Close). Zooropa won the Best Production Award for the third time in four years and U2 won their fourth Brit Award, as Best Live Act.
Bono and The Edge wrote the theme tune for the James Bond film Goldeneye, performed by Tina Turner. U2 was responsible for the soundtrack of Batman Forever. Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen were responsible for the soundtrack of Mission: Impossible.
In 1995, U2 and Brian Eno released, under the name of The Passengers, the experimental album Original Soundtracks 1. Although Luciano Pavarotti and Miss Sarajevo contributed to the CD, it was largely ignored, both critically and commercially.
In 1996, U2 began to work on a new album. They wanted to incorporate the electronic sounds of bands such as Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers. In March 1997, Pop was released in March, but without strong electronic and dance influences as rumour had suggested. In April 1997 followed the PopMart Tour. It was going to be a "bright, fun, funky, and emotional", Bono told people. It became the second-highest grossing tour of 1997, earning the band some $80 million.
In 1998, U2 released three Best Of compilations. The first album was U2: The Best of 1980-1990, released in two versions. In early 1999, U2 returned to the studios, together with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois for the first time since 1991's Achtung Baby. Author Salman Rushdie contributed the lyrics to The Ground Beneath Her Feet, based on his book of the same name. In September 1999, Bono joined stars such as David Bowie and Quincy Jones and world leaders including the American President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to launch the anti-poverty campaign NetAid.
U2's latest release, All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000, won three Grammies Awards in 2001 for the Beautiful Day: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Beautiful Day, with The Edge's prominent guitar play, was a UK#1. The album is reminiscent of several previous albums by U2.

This article is largely based on: Fischer Rockmusik Lexikon.

The Edge & Billie. Photo © Universal Music 2006.

Added on June 10, 2010: U2 on Tour.
Photo Copyright © Universal Music / Kevin Mazur. U2 360° AT THE ROSE BOWL DVD: Order the 2 DVD deluxe edition from, or from - Sheet music by U2.

Added on November 13, 2006
The new single "The Saints Are Coming" by U2 was released on November 3, 2006. Get it from, or

Added on February 9, 2006

On February 8, 2006, U2 have won five Grammy Awards for their album
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, including the categories song of the year and album of the year.

Added on November 25, 2004: New from U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Island, November 2004. Get the CD from,, Amazon Canada,,

U2. Photo Copyright Universal Music.

U2. Photo Copyright © Universal Music.

U2 on Tour. Photo Copyright © Universal Music / Kevin Mazur. U2 360° AT THE ROSE BOWL DVD: Order the 2 DVD deluxe edition from, or from - Sheet music by Giuseppe Verdi.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.