Written by Rae
The following is a somewhat brief musical history of U2. I tried my best at the research thing, and all my sources are credited in the "site/credit" section. Please forgive, and correct me if you happen to see any errors of any kind.
In 1976, a 14 year old drummer, Larry Mullen Jr., posted a note on the bulletin board of his Dublin high school, requesting anyone interested in forming a band, show up at his home after school. Seven hopefuls showed up that day, and by the end of the shuffle, 5 were left.
Adam Clayton, who's poofy blonde hair and afghan coat immediatly appealed to Mullen as the epitome of "cool," played the bass guitar, Dik and Dave Evans had built a guitar and both could play a little, and Paul Hewson, who claimed to play guitar and sing, but really couldn't do either very well, were the remaining 5 players.
Paul's leadership skills came into play right at the beginning, and with the only position remaining being vocals, Paul became the band's lead singer. They called themselves "Feedback," and then, later changed it to "The Hype." In 1978, Dik Evans decided he wanted to leave the band, and was given a farewell show. At the suggestion of a friend, Steve Averill, and after a majority vote from their audience, the band changed their name to "U2."
Also going with the name changing theme, Paul Hewson was nicknamed "Bono Vox," by his childhood friend, Derek Rowan, who is better known to fans as "Guggi." Eventually the name was shortened to simply Bono. Dave Evans was also given a nickname. He became known as The Edge, or just Edge, though the reasons for the nickname are not certain. It's been said that Bono named him that because of the straight edge look of his face, and also because he was always just a step ahead of everyone else.
The band spent the remainder of the 70s opening for local bands and playing television shows, and in March of 1980, U2 signed a 4 year recording contract with Island Records. The contract required them to release 4 albums within 4 years, giving Island the option to extend the contract once the initial agreement was met. U2's first official album, Boy, was released in the UK in October of 1980, peaking at #52 in the music charts. It is release 5 months later in the US, and peaked at #63.
U2's second album, October, was released in October of 1981, and managed to creep into the Top 20 in the UK, and the US Top 40. It wasn't until the release of their third album, War, in 1983, that U2 managed to break into the musical mainstream. Their first single of the album was New Year's Day. The single reached number 10 in the UK charts, and the video was picked up by two year old music channel, MTV.
In June of 1983, during the War tour, U2 played a scheduled show at Red Rocks ampitheatre. The show is sold out with all 9,000 tickets, but horrendous weather conditions made stage set up nearly impossible. This show was to be the first documentary video released by the band, and despite the constant down pour of rain, they insisted that the show must go on. Fears of audience turn out being poor were wiped away when 9,000 adoring fans showed up. The video and mini album, both titled Under a Blood Red Sky, became best sellers.
1984's release of The Unforgettable Fire marked U2's first studio collaboration with producers Brian Eno and Danial Lanois. The album peaked at #12 on album charts and #1 in Australia and the UK, and featured one of the band's most popular songs to date, Pride (In the Name of Love), which was written about the late Martin Luther King Jr. The song became U2's first hit to make it into the American Top 40. The band released The Unforgettable Fire Video Collection shortly after, in 1985, and then their second EP, Wide Awake in America, just a few months later. The album featured live versions of Bad and A Sort of Homecoming, along with 2 previously unreleased tracks.
With the release of The Joshua Tree in 1987, U2's popularity sky-rocketed. The album is considered to be the band's first masterpiece. Debuting at #7, 3 weeks later, it was the band's first album to reach #1 in American music charts, and also hit #1 in the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Australia. It became Rolling Stone's #2 album of the year, and earned U2 two Grammy awards, for best rock performance by a group or duo, as well as the coveted Album of the Year. The Joshua Tree was certified Diamond, the highest certification give by the RIAA, and is U2's biggest selling album to date.
U2 toured with The Joshua Tree from 1987 through 1988, documenting footage for the soon to be released Rattle and Hum album and documentary video. The album was released in 1988 and reached #1 in the US and UK. It was certified multi-platinum and earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Group Performance.
In 1988, U2 ended The Joshua Tree Tour, with Bono telling the audience that they needed to "go away and dream it all up again." With that, the band disappeared from the spotlight, retreated to Hansa Studios in Berlin.
In 1991, U2 re-emerged and released an album that was a complete departure from all of their previous music to date. Achtung Baby is widely regarded as the band's second masterpiece. It went multi platinum in the US and was certified gold and 5 times platinum in Switzerland and Australia, respectively. U2 won their second Grammy award for Best Rock Album by a Duo or Group, and producers, Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno picked up Grammy's for producer's of the year. Achtung Baby was also named Rolling Stone's album of the year.
In 1992, One was released as the third single off Achtung Baby. The song was written, by Bono, about the band being "One" and, in a sense, unified. All royalties from the single went to AIDS research, and it has been performed at several live benefits and charity events since.
From the beginning of 1992 through to the end of 1993, almost 2 years, U2 went on tour. The tour was called ZOOTV, and was U2's largest, most grand tour yet. It featured dozen's of tv screens, and satellite link ups all over the world. During stage performances, Bono would channel surf. One of the most memorable moments throughout the tour was in Detroit in March of 1992. While flipping channels on the large movie screen tv, Bono came upon a commercial for "Speedy's Pizza." Turning to the audience, he asked "You want some pizza?" He proceeded to call the pizza place, placing an order of 10,000 pizzas for Detroit. By the end of the show, 3 delivery men turned up on stage, wheeling a cart of over a hundred pizzas, which were tossed out to the "pizza" chanting audience.
Bono was also known for making prank phone calls to many politicians during performances. Most notabley to then President George Bush. Though he never actually was put through to the president, Bono did develope a close relationship to Operator #2. He also masqueraded as different characters, such as The Fly, The Mirrorball Man, and the infamous, Macphisto - a costume which had him in a shimmering gold suit, high heeled platform boots, white face make-up, red lips, a pair of devil horns, and topping it all off, a polished british accent.
While touring, U2 was flying back and forth to their studios, recording an album originally meant to be just an EP. Zooropa was released in July of 1993, during the ZOOTV tour. The album was recorded in just 6 weeks and hit #1 in over 15 countries world wide. The band began introducing songs off their new album into the nightly performances. Eventually they released three singles off the album, including a video single for the song Numb, which was written and performed by Edge.
In May of 1994 the video ZOOTV: Live from Sydney was released, and U2 took home a Grammy award for Zooropa as the Best Alternative Album of the Year.
With the conclusion of the ZOOTV tour, U2 again retreated from the spotlight. In 1995, they recorded an album with long time producer, Brian Eno, entitled Passengers 1: Original Soundtrack. The music was quite a departure from U2's sound and, so not to confuse anxious fans, it was released under the Passengers alias. The album peaked at number 5 in Ireland, and reached number 76 on the American Billboard 200.
With the Passengers project completed, U2 eventually returned to the studio. In February of 1997, the band held a press conference in a K-Mart store in Greenwich Village. to annouce the upcoming release of their newest album, Pop, and the world tour which was to follow. The album was completely different from anything they'd done to date, and although it debuted at #1 in US album charts, it had a mixed reception from fans.
The tour was dubbed Pop-mart, and featured a 170x56ft tv screen (the largest in the world), a 100ft high golden arch, a 12 foot high stuffed olive on a 100 foot high toothpick, and what tour would be complete without a gigantic mirrorball lemon. The show cost the band $500,000 per night and saw Bono with his jet black hair shaved off, Edge in a white cowboy ensemble, and Adam sporting a t-shirt saying, simply: "Poptart."
A man of his word, in September of 1997, U2 made good of Bono's 1995 pledge to bring a U2 show to Sarajevo. 45,000 people attended the performance, which began with Bono shouting "Viva Sarajevo" to the crowd, and ended with screen images of a 1993 Beauty Pageant as the band played Miss Sarajevo.
Pop hit #1 in 27 countries, sold 4,900,000 copies in its first four weeks of release, and earned U2 a Grammy nomination for Best Rock/Pop Album. The album was also voted the number 1 album and best album sleeve in the Hot Press reader's poll.
In November of 1998, U2 released a limited edition double cd titled Best of 1980-1990. The first disc featured a decade of the band's greatest hits, and the second disc, which was released in limited amounts, contained a collection of B-sides and rarities recorded throughout the years. The set was issued for a one week release, and then the B-Sides disc was removed from stores as well as from the band's catalog. The single disc of greatest hits was cerified gold in the USA and held the highest grossing sales in its first week for any greatest hits album in the US soundscan era, until the release of The Beatles' One, last year. U2's Best of still holds the record for highest sales in a single week in Ireland, where it topped the charts for 76 weeks. The double cd set went multi platinum in the US and 5 times platinum in Australia.
In March of 2000, with fans anxiously awaiting the release of the next U2 single, a movie entitled The Million Dollar Hotel was released. The film was co-written, and co-produced by Bono and starred Mel Gibson and Milla Jovovich. The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film in the German Film awards, and won the Silver Berlin Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film soundtrack featured two new songs by U2, as well as three new tracks by Bono.
In October of 2000, U2 released the album that has become known as their 3rd masterpiece, All That You Can't Leave Behind. Although many critics and fans remarked that U2 had finally ditched the stage gimics and had gone back to their roots, the band firmly stated that the album is not a return to their past stylings, but rather a rebirth, a soul record, and different from anything they'd ever done before. They worked on the album with the determination of making every song capable of standing on it's own. The first single off the album, Beautiful Day, was released in time to earn 3 Grammy nominations and subsequently, 3 Grammy awards for song of the year, record of the year, and best performance by a rock duo or group.
U2 took All That You Can't Leave Behind on tour, with a stripped down rock show titled The Elevation Tour. The tour began in 2001 in the USA. The first leg wrapped in New Jersey in June 2001 and then continued on to Europe, returning back to the US for a third leg in the fall of 2001.
The band has picked up numerous awards in addition to the three Grammy's scored by Beautiful Day. At the 44th Annual Grammy awards, U2 received eight nominations for All That You Can't Leave Behind, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
Of their eight nominations, U2 picked up four awards, including the coveted Record of the Year for their song Walk On, making it seven total Grammys for the album. They also did something that had not been done in thirty years, they won the Record of the Year award two years in a row.
The band recently made a haul at the Irish Meteor awards as well. There are talks of continuing The Elevation Tour this summer, visiting more cities in Europe, as well as Japan. They have also begun work on their next album.