Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by U2.

U2's career began in the year 1976 in Dublin, Ireland. First called Feedback, and later The Hype, the group settled on the name U2 in 1978. Although the name has various meanings, such as a type of Amerian spy plane used for surveillence on Russia and other countries, their intention was to inspire fans to get involved: "you too." The four original members are lead vocalist Bono, born Paul Hewson (1960), The Edge (Dave Evans, 1961) on guitar, Larry Mullen Jr. (1961) on drums, and Adam Clayton (1960), on bass.

U2 started off as a post-punk rock band often promoting Christian values, which a contentious matter in Ireland at that time, and their early music combined political lyrics reminiscent of 1960s protest songs with the high-energy, hard driving sound of punk. The band found its style With the release of their third album War, in 1983. They have since inspired many late 1980s and 1990s, including alternative bands such as Radiohead.

One of the cuts on the album War, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" described the violence in war-torn Northern Ireland, and immediately painted the band as political. The image of Bono raising a white flag while performing the song live became the band's trademark, and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" became their anthem. After MTV aired U2's live performance or the album at Red Rocks amphitheater, near Denver Colorado in 1983, U2's success began to skyrocket.

By 1987, they had released The Joshua Tree, which is considered to be their masterwork. Containing tracks such as "With or Without You", the album pays homage to many of their musical influences from early American Rock and Roll, as well as their fascination with American pop culture. In the same year they were hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as the most important band of the 1980s.

The 90s, however, saw a new U2 as they evolved into a more experimental band stressing techno, dance and heavy pop influences. With political and social idealism out the window, U2 experimented with new sounds and applied this experimentation to their multi-million dollar live productions and what many perceived as Bono's ego. As often happens in the world of music, these changes caused the group to lose many of their old fans, who felt betrayed. But it seems that they gained as many new ones who liked the new style.

There was an elaborate tour in 1992, called Zoo TV, which included a blend of electronics and multimedia. The stage was full of televisions, suspended cars and they added cellular phones and hand held video cameras to the usual delivery of the songs. During this tour, Bono's alter-ego, the Fly, appeared. It was hard to tell whether the Fly symbolized the success singer or was a parody of rock stardom.

In 1993, they did a tour called Zooropa, with an even heavier techno and dance influence. During this tour, the Fly became MacPhisto, another Bono alter-ego. This was followed by the Pop tour in 1997.

In late 2000, they produced their first album in 3 years, All That You Can't Leave Behind. The album marked a return to U2's rock roots, which made them the predominant band at the Grammy Awards for the next two years. In 2001, the single, "Beautiful Day" won Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or a Group. The album itself wasn't eligible until the next year when the band won home four Grammys, including Record of the Year, best Rock Album, Best Rock Performance and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or a Group.

After those successes, the band went on to produce How to Desmantle an Atomic Bomb with lyrics addressing life, death, love, war, faith, and family, which reached number one in 30 countries. The albums No line on the Horizon was released in 2009 and after tours, promotions and a long production process Songs of Innocence came out in 2014 as an Apple release, with a follow up in 2016, Songs of Experience. A complete discography is found on AllMusic

Page author: A.E. & C.F.