Artists // U2 // Biography
U2 - Picture
U2 - Picture
U2 - Picture

U2 was formed in the summer of 1978 while its members were still students at Dublin's Mount Temple School. Bono (vocals), the Edge (guitars, piano), Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums) and Adam Clayton (bass) played small venues in their native Dublin and the following year released their first record, a one-off three-track EP titled U23. By January 1980, U2 had built up a loyal following and the Hot Press (Ireland's leading rock magazine) Reader's Poll placed them at the top of five categories. In April 1980, U2 signed to Island Records and one month later released their first single, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock."

U2 began to work with Steve Lillywhite on their first album in August 1980. The single, "A Day Without Me," was released in the same month and by October the group was ready for its first European shows. The Boy album was released in October, along with a third single, "I Will Follow."

During November 1980, U2 travelled to the United States to play their first shows there. Back in Dublin in January 1981, U2 collected nine firsts in the Hot Press Reader's Poll. One month later, at the final sold-out show of the British tour, 700 people had to be turned away from London's 3,000 capacity Lyceum Ballroom. U2 spent the next three months touring the United States.

In June 1981, the first single off their second album, October was released. "Fire" was recorded at Compass Point Studios during a break in the U.S. tour. October entered the U.K. album charts at No. 11 after one week of release, the second single from the album, Gloria, also made the U.K. chart. European and American tours followed, culminating in the 5,000 capacity show at Dublin's RDS in January 1982.

The release of War in March 1983 marked a turning point in the band's career: the single "New Year's Day" was a U.K. Top 10 hit and the album entered the U.K. charts at No.1 and went to the Top 10 in the United States.

Recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado during their U.S. tour, Under a Blood Red Sky was U2's first live album. Upon its release in November 1983, it topped the chart in the U.K. and reached platinum status by January 1984. Rolling Stone magazine's writer's poll voted U2 "Band of the Year" for 1983.

In December 1983, U2 undertook their first tour of Japan and it was during this trip that the group visited the Unforgettable Fire -- an exhibition of photographs of the bombing of Hiroshima - the impact of which was felt in their next album release.

U2 started work in May 1984 on their fourth studio album, The Unforgettable Fire, with new producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois at Slane Castle outside Dublin. The album was released in October and entered the U.K. charts at No.1 Further touring in 1984 and 1985 saw landmark shows at London's Wembley Arena, New York's Madison Square Garden and Dublin's Croke Park.

In July 1985, U2 performed at the charity benefit Live Aid and then returned to Dublin to begin work on their next album. They interrupted rehearsals in June 1986 to play on a six-date American tour, titled "A Conspiracy of Hope," to benefit Amnesty International. The tour also featured Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Bryan Adams, the Neville Brothers, Joan Baez and the Police.

In May 1985, a specially priced EP, Wide Awake in America, was released only in America. It featured live recordings of "Bad" and "A Sort of Homecoming."

The Joshua Tree, released in March 1987, established U2's stellar status. The album went straight to No. 1 on the U.K. charts and reached the same position in the U.S. by April. When the Joshua Tree tour kicked off in Arizona that same month, Time magazine placed the band on its cover, proclaiming U2 "Rock's Hottest Ticket." In eight months, U2 had played more than 100 shows, The Joshua Tree had sold in excess of 14 million copies and topped the charts in 22 countries.

In spring 1988 collected two Grammy Awards, for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance. The following October, U2 released the double album, Rattle and Hum, produced by Jimmy Iovine. The album earned the group two more Grammy Awards, this time for Best Rock Performance and Best Video.

For 1991's Achtung Baby, U2 re-enlisted the production talents of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. The album was recorded in various locations, including Berlin and Dublin and contained the hit singles "One," "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Mysterious Ways."

Early in 1992, U2 launched an elaborate tour called "Zoo TV." During the tour, Bono adopted an alter-ego image, which he dubbed "the Fly," a signal of his disillusionment with his mega-pop stardom. The outrageous tour was followed up by the 10-track CD, Zooropa.

After an extended hiatus, U2 returned in 1997 with the electronica-influenced album Pop. The album spawned the hits "Staring at the Sun" and "Discotheque" and sent the group back on the road on one of the most expensive arena tours ever staged. The international PopMart tour featured the world's largest video screen (150 feet x 50 feet), a 35-foot Mirrorball Lemon, a 12-foot wide Stuffed Olive (on a 100-foot toothpick) and a single 100-foot high Golden Arch.

In October 2000, U2 released their first album in 3 years, All That You Can't Leave Behind. "Beautiful Day," the first single (and accompanying video) from the album, was released in late summer the same year. It marked a triumphant return for the band and its rock n’ roll roots, and it led to the band dominating the Grammy Awards two years in a row. 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 wasn’t eligible until 2002 when U2 took home four Grammys, including Record of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Performance and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or a Group.

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