U2...The "Good Guys"
of Rock-n-Roll

Classic Rock Legends > U2

U2 Classic Rock Legends rating = 4.25

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From the beginning, U2 has been a band on a mission. With each album and concert, the Irish quartet has endeavored to create music of lasting worth and substance. At various points in their career U2 have been not only the most popular band in the world but also arguably the most important - although success in their own minds is purely conditional on the caliber of their work.

“We had no interest in being the biggest if we weren’t the best,” guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans told Rolling Stone in 2004. “That’s the only way being the biggest would mean anything.” U2’s best work - which includes War (1983), The Joshua Tree (1987), Achtung Baby (1991) and All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) - stand out as true classics in the rock canon. Bono’s high-profile work for causes like Third World debt relief and U2’s participation in such historic rock-for-charity events as Live Aid and Amnesty International’s Conspiracy of Hope tour have made them something of a beacon for positive change in the world of music. ---Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum---

"I Will Follow" - debut single on 1980 album "Boy" recorded in Dublin Ireland

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The Music Started with a Message

In the fall of 1976, 14-year-old drummer Larry Mullen posted a note on his high school bulletin board in Dublin, seeking musicians to form a new band. From the group of aspiring rock stars that answered, Mullen formed the band “Feedback” with Adam Clayton (bass), Paul Hewson (vocals), Dave Evans and his older brother Dick (both on guitar). The first change came when Dick left the newly formed group to join the Virgin Prunes. Soon after, “Feedback” was renamed the “Hype”.

Name changes extended to three of the four members. Larry Mullen added “Jr.” to the end of his name to distinguish himself from his father, Larry Mullen, Sr. Paul was given the name “Bonoavox” (meaning beautiful voice) by his friend Guggi (later shortened to “Bono”). Bono dubbed Dave Evans with the name “The Edge”. After 18 months of rehearsing, the band was ready for another name change. The Hype became U2 at the suggestion of Steve Averill, a friend who later designed several U2 album covers.

In March of 1978, U2 entered a Guinness sponsored talent show in Limerick, Ireland. They impressed CBS Records judge Jackie Hayden enough to win the contest and the £500 prize along with enough studio time to record their first demo tape. In September of 1979, the band released its first single. U2-3, released in Ireland only, quickly topped the national charts. In March of the following year, a second Irish-only single topped the charts again and prompted Island Records to sign U2 to an International contract. The band’s first album "Boy" was released in October of 1980 and earned impressive reviews in the U.K. press as well as in the Irish media.

Keeping the Perspective

"See, bands get formed by accident, but they don't survive by accident. It takes will, intent, a sense of shared purpose and a tolerance for your friends' fallibilities and they of yours. And that only evens the odds. U2 has not only evened the odds, but they've beaten them." — Bruce Springsteen, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction speech.

Page 2 - U2 The Early Years

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