//Discography - Lyrics
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In his book "Stories for Boys", Dave Thomas wrote : "There have been few success stories quite as pure and simple as that of U2." The U2 story began in the mid-1970s at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, Ireland. Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on one of the schools notice boards asking a response for anyone who was interested in starting a band. Dave Evans (The Edge) was the first to respond. He and his brother Dick showed with his friend Adam Clayton, for the first band's meeting (September 25th, 1975) in Larry's home kitchen. Also present, was Bono (Paul D. Hewson), allegedly wanting to go for the part of lead guitarist, but that quickly changed.
With the help of music teacher, Albert Bradshaw, the Larry, Adam, Edge and Bono rehearsed during lunchtime in a class room, and decided to call themselves "Feedback". Soon thereafter, they changed their name to "The Hype". Near the end of the school fall term of 1976, the band made their live debut in the school gymnasium, playing the Peter Frampton song "Show me the way". Bono later admitted that the gig was "one of the best concerts of our lives".
U2 in Dublin, 1979
After formerly changing their name to U2, the band released its first record in September 1979, a three track EP titled U2-3. It was a single available in both 7 inch and 12 inch formats and was only available in Ireland. The 12 in version was limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies -- the numbering had been done by Jackie Hayden, the marketing director of CBS Records in Ireland. The tracks included were: "Out of Control", "Stories for Boys" and "Boy-Girl". They had been chosen by fans, who voted via the Dave Fanning RTE radio program. Dave Fanning, is the premier Irish DJ who was the first radio DJ in Ireland to play U2 music. Over the years, Fanning has done many interviews with U2, the most notorious one taking place on June 25th, 1987 when the members of U2 stripped off their clothes while being interviewed.
U2's first album BOY was released in October 1980. Around this time Paul McGuinness became the official manager of the band. It was McGuinness who helped the band get the record deal they wanted with Island Records in March 1980. The band began recording in August 1980 at Dublin's Windmill Lane Studios alongside producer Steve Lillywhite. Although the album was not a commercial success, it led to U2's first appearance on BBC TV's "Top Of The Pops" while at the same time helped to promote their next single "Fire". The BOY Tour soon followed on the spring of 1981. It began at the General Woolfe in Coventry in September 6th, 1980 before covering the rest of England. Although U2 went to the USA in December 1980 for their first ever visit, it was not to promote BOY, but rather the band themselves.
In 1981, Bono, Edge and Larry got involved with a Dublin charismatic Christian Group called "Shalom". Adam was not to fond of this involvement. The other three began questioning themselves as to whether they could be Christians and play rock 'n' roll at the same time. All this prompted U2 to release what has been called "U2's Christian Album", OCTOBER. It was originally titled "Scarlet" and many U2 fans have cited it as their least favorite U2 album. But songs like "Gloria" and "October" should not be ignored and are musical highlights from the band's playlist. Once again Steve Lillywhite produced the album that reached number 11 in the UK album charts, selling more than 250,000 copies and giving U2 their first silver disc. During the tour to promote the OCTOBER album, the band performed in England, Germany and the USA.
About their next album WAR, also produced by Steve Lillywhite, Bono commented at the time: "War seemed to be a motif for 1982 -- from the Falklands to the Middle East and South Africa there was war. By calling the album WAR, we're giving people a slap in the face and at the same time getting away from the cozy image a lot of people have of U2". The album was recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin and was released worldwide on February 28, 1983. For this album, the band had more time to rehearse the tracks before recording them. They even did a "pre-WAR" tour of Britain, Europe and Ireland in December 1982 to try out some of the tracks in a live situation before the final mixing took place. The most memorable moments of the WAR tour took place in June 5th, 1983 when U2 played the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado. A Live EP and VHS video of most of the performance were later released. The Live EP only contained two tracks from the concert ("Gloria" and "Party Girl") and most of the setlist came from the performance at the Lorelei Festival show in Germany on August 20th, 1983.
The title for their next album, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE, was inspired by a special exhibition of paintings and drawings made by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombings. The exhibition was loaned to the Chicago Peace Museum in 1983. The band were performing in town and had decided to see the exhibition. Two songs on the album were influenced by this visit: "A Sort of Homecoming" and "The Unforgettable Fire". Two others were influenced by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. : "Pride (In the name of Love)" and "MLK". The album was released in October 1st, 1984 and reached number 1 in the charts in several countries including the UK. Producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois brought a new musical direction and created a more laid back, European sound, with some American influences. The album was recorded in part at Windmill Lane Studios and in part at the ballroom at Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland (not to be confused with the castle on the cover of the album, which is Moydrum Castle near Athlone, Ireland). Album's highlights include "Pride" and "Bad"--both which were destined to become live concert favorites. The tour to promote the album in Europe was cancelled in its entirety because the band felt they needed to get used to playing the new songs live. Many of the shows from this tour are remembered for the constant "crowd problems" (people leaving their seats to be closer to the stage), with fights resulting at times.
The year 1985 was a great one for U2. First, the band released (only in America) a second Live EP, WIDE AWAKE IN AMERICA. The mini- album included two outtakes from the Unforgettable Fire LP ("Love Comes Tumbling" and "The Three Sunrises") and live versions of "Bad" and "A Sort of Homecoming". The title of the EP came from a lyric line from the song "Bad". Second, and most memorable, U2 participated in the LIVE AID concert on July 13th, 1985. U2 were one of twenty two groups and artists which agreed to play at London's Wembley Stadium. U2 were introduced by Jack Nicholson from the stage in Philadelphia via satellite as they took the stage at 5:20 PM London time. Bono said the words "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and the band started their set. As The Edge was playing the guitar solo, Bono pulled the stage cameraman towards him and pointed him to the crowd as he jumped down to the photographer's platform. Bono did the same during the song "Bad", dancing with a girl from the audience (a moment that will later be remembered as "The Leap of Faith"). The song "Pride" had to be dropped from the set because Bono's "reaching out to the audience" moment had taken most of their time allowed on stage. At the time Bono thought he had overstepped and spoilt the impression that U2 could have made at Live Aid. Weeks later, recalled Bono, after meeting a sculptor who was creating a statue called "The Leap" about the singer's plunge into the audience, he was convinced that it had been right.
U2 in Los Angeles, 1987
U2's next album has been one of their biggest selling albums (over 16 million copies) ever. THE JOSHUA TREE was released worldwide on March 9th, 1987. Prior to the release of the album, U2 was involved in some live performances, one at the Self Aid concert in Croke Park, Dublin and another in The Conspiracy of Hope tour in aid of Amnesty International. Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois once again produced the album. THE JOSHUA TREE was done in memory of Greg Carroll (Bono's former personal assistant) who had been killed in a motorcycle accident after the band returned from the Amnesty Tour. The song "One Tree Hill" became an eulogy for Carroll. The gatefold sleevecover and memorable pictures from the California desert were taken by long time U2 photographer Anton Corbijn. U2's "American Album" became the fastest selling album in British history, entering the album charts at number 1 and achieving platinum status after only two days. The album elevated U2 to the premier league of rock groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In 1988, the album won many awards including Album of the Year in Rolling Stone Magazine and a Grammy Award for best album. THE JOSHUA TREE Tour had U2 playing smaller arenas as well as large stadiums such as London's Wembley Stadium. The tour finished on December 20th, 1987 at the Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, Arizona. This show was officially recorded and appeared on the album and movie RATTLE AND HUM, directed by Phil Joanou.
The idea for the movie came from manager Paul McGuinness. He thought it was time to show the live evolution of the band. Although Paramount Pictures contributed with some of the costs, the band members and McGuinness used their own money so that artistic control could be guaranteed. RATTLE AND HUM was a sort of documentary of U2's Joshua Tree Tour of America, a celebration that included Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and BB King. After all the hype that proceeded the film, many critics saw it as U2 trying to set themselves up as equals to these rock 'n' roll heroes. The film premiered in Dublin on October 27, 1988.
In 1989, U2 went on the LOVETOWN TOUR. This was U2's first tour in nearly two years since the end of the Joshua Tree Tour. Because U2 were playing at the same venue several nights and as many fans had bought tickets to more than one show, U2 had a selection of 35 songs that they would chose from, playing around 20 each show. The tour included performances with BB King. It is also remembered by their performance at the Point Depot (Dublin) on December 31st, 1989 and by Bono's speech that ended : " We just have to go back and dream it all up again." The words soon brought rumors about the band possibly breaking up. Turns out they just needed a break.
Acthung Baby, 1991
In the early 1990's U2 "dreamt it all up again" and reinvented themselves with their new release ACHTUNG BABY. Much of it was recorded at Berlin's Hansa Studios between November 1990 and March 1991, during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Once again Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois produced the album. Halfway through the recording process, demo recordings surfaced as the bootleg recordings known as "Salome: the Acthung Baby Outtakes!". The sessions continued in the spring of 1991 back in Dublin at Dog Town, STS and Windmill Lane Studios. The album was finally released in November 1991. Full of the anguish of broken relationships, perhaps a reflection of The Edge's recent marriage breakdown, the album pointed in a new musical direction for the band. The songs gradually evolved into the Zoo TV Tour set which would go round the world over the next couple of years. ACHTUNG BABY went straight to the number one spot in the USA, following the success of the first single "The Fly". It was kept off the number one spot in the UK by Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" album. The album at one point was going to be called "Adam" after the bass player's full frontal nude picture is one (on the uncensored versions) of the thirty square pictures that adorned the front and back cover. Also featured on the cover was the famous German car the Trabant, which U2 had fallen in love with in Berlin. Not only did the Trabant appear on the album cover and several single covers, but it also made it into the lighting and stage equipment of the Zoo TV Tour. The tour began at the Civic Center in Florida on February 29th, 1992. Because this show was U2's first date in America in five years, press expectations and interest ran very high with extensive media coverage of the event. The irony of it all was that by trying not to take themselves too seriously, after all the Rattle 'n' Hum movie fiasco, instead of avoiding the spotlight on the band, critics and fans alike were drawn to the band's new "mass media" tour. It was a tour that featured Bono performing via different personas: "Mr. MacPhisto" (an aging rock star with gold platform shoes and red devil's horns), "The Fly" (a sleazy, black leather wearing, black sunglasses, Elvis look-alike), and "The Mirrorball Man" (a parody of the TV evangelists).
While still on the Zoo TV tour, U2 released another full length studio album, ZOOROPA. It was originally going to be released as a single, then an EP. Still on a high after the "Outside Broadcast" leg of the Zoo TV tour, U2 managed to lay down enough tracks for a complete album. Although the Zooropa leg of the Zoo TV tour began on May 9th, 1993, it did not stop the band from recording the album. For the early dates of the tour, U2 would do a show, then fly straight back to Dublin to work on the album. The album was finally released on July 5th, 1993 entering at number one in nearly every country it was released. Releasing the album in the middle of the tour meant that the band did not have time to rehearse the songs, so it was not until the show in Rome, Italy on July 7th the first of the album's songs, "Numb" was played live. By the time of the final gig of the Zooropa leg of the Zoo TV Tour in Tokyo, Japan in December 10th, 1993, all the tracks on the album had been played live, except "Same Days Are Better Than Others" and "The Wanderer". The album won a Grammy award in 1994 for the Best Alternative Album category. Although it was recorded faster than one would like, ZOOROPA showed that U2 were still capable of producing the goods under pressure.
U2 (POP era)
For the next album and tour, U2 would go through one of their most experimental periods in their musical career. In their ninth studio album, POP, U2 went to record most of it at the South Beach Studios in Miami, Florida, USA. The eventual release of the album in March 1997 had been another change in musical direction for U2 with emphasis on a heavier production using tape loops, programming and sampling, leading to accusations of U2 having gone "techno" or "jungle". Although the first single "Discotheque" indicated a clear change in direction, the album's overall sound was not all disco oriented. Songs like "Staring at the Sun" and "Wake up Dead Man" show they were open to new musical avenues. Many fans were not convinced about this "experimental" album, sales were not as high as for the earlier albums. POP was first played on Dave Fanning's 2FM radio show on February 20th, 1997. It entered the UK, US and many other charts at number one, though in several countries its time in the charts was limited. The Pop Mart Tour was announced at a special press conference at a K-Mart store in Manhanttan's East Village, New York on February 12th, 1997. The tour lasted eighteen months and would operate on a grander scale than the Zoo TV Tour. It included the world's largest video screen, a 40-foot moving mirrorball lemon, and a choice of wardrobe styles never seen on U2 bandmembers before (i.e. muscle print shirts, cowboy hats and boots, face masks, military fatigues and blue-bubble suits.)
The Pop Mart Tour made the Guinness Book of Records as having the biggest video screen and having the largest ever audience for a tour -- 2.9 million people at 93 shows. In hindsight, the tour seemed to be U2 trying to outdo the excesses of the Zoo TV Tour with perhaps too much emphasis on the visual aspect of the show and not enough on the music. As a result, the next tour, the 2001 Elevation Tour, went back to smaller venues and less gimmicks and focusing much more on the music.
All that you can't leave behind, 2000
In early 1999, U2 headed back to the studio to make a new album. They promised that if this album wouldn't be great it will be their last. ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND was released on October 31st, 2000 (Larry's birthday) to great reviews. It debuted at number 1 in over 34 countries. Recorded in various studios in Dublin , including Windmill Lane, and Hanover Quay and Bono's house in the south of France, it was an attempt by the band to get "back to basics", with more emphasis on the songs than on the effects. According to Bono, the "shock to their system this time would be to keep it simple and just have the four band members playing on a room together". The Edge called it "a very simple record" and several reviewers referred to it as "a stripped down sound" and "the most uninterrupted collection of strong melodies U2 have ever mounted." The album title came from a lyric line in the song "Walk On", one of the album's stand out tracks, along with "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation". Once again Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois produced the album. The cover and inside photos of the album were taken by Anton Corbijn at Charles De Gaulle airport near Paris. Rolling Stone magazine called ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND U2's third masterpiece, since The Joshua Tree and Acthung Baby. On February 2002, U2 won 4 Grammy Awards for the following categories: best album, record of the year, best pop performance by duo or group, and best rock performance.
Bono, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton, The Edge
The Elevation Tour began on March 24th, 2001 at the National Car Rental Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Unlike the previous tours, this became an arena tour instead of a stadium tour with U2 playing to between10-20,000 people a night. Within ten days of the European (2nd Leg) finishing, the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, left the North American (3rd Leg) of the tour in jeopardy. Many fans thought that the whole tour would be cancelled altogether in the light of many people's reluctance to travel by air. But the only change that occurred was that the day of the tickets going on sale was pushed back a week to September 22nd. Almost every venue sold out on the same day showing U2 that their fans in North America still wished to see them. The tour sold more than 2 million tickets for 113 concerts and grossed over $160 million. Of all the Elevation Tour shows, the ones at Slane Castle (after Bono's dad Bob Hewson passed away), Boston (used for the DVD release) and New York (after the 9-11 attacks) stand out.
On February 3rd, 2002, U2 performed at the Half Time Show at the SuperBowl XXXVI taking place that year at the Superdome in New Orleans, Lousiana. U2 performed "Beautiful Day", "MLK" and "Where the streets have no name". During "MLK" and "Streets" a screen on the back of the stage scrolled the names of the victims of the World Trade Center 9-11 attacks, as well as the fire and police departments, and those on the hijacked airplanes. The set was also memorable for Bono's patriotic gesture of revealing the Stars and Stripes flag lining to the inside of his jacket.
On November 2004, U2 released their latest album HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB. "Vertigo", the first single proved to be an instant hint. The use of the band and song on Apple's iPod commercial helped it reach an even larger audience. With the subsequent release of a black and red U2, Special Edition iPod, with signatures of the band members on the back, critics and some fans wondered at first if the band had "sold out", but soon learned that the band was not going to be paid for the iPod commercial. U2 has never been to fond of endorsements. Prior to the release of the album, U2 did various performances on UK and USA TV. Most noticeable were those at the BBC Car Park in London and the one under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City which was preceded with a impromptu performance on a flatbed truck through the streets of New York City. With the reaction of the fans on the street and elsewhere, U2 were still clearly relevant in today's music scene. Without a doubt, they still hold the "Best Band in the World" job.
The Vertigo Tour began on March 28th, 2005 in San Diego, California. The tour start had been postponed due to reports that a family member of the Edge was sick. But once the tour began, many fans were glad to be there, eventhough the ticket sales process via the bands official site, U2.com, had been a disaster. Such was the anger among fans who had paid for a subscription to the site and a chance to purchase the best tickets for the shows, that on the Grammy Awards telecast Larry had to aopologize for the problems, after accepting an award for the song "Vertigo".
In 2005, U2 was also inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The very memorable induction speech was given by Bruce Springsteen. On the same night, "The Boss" also joined U2 onstage for a performance of "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". The Vertigo tour is and will end up being one of the most profitable rock shows ever, grossing over $200 million in revenues. As of October 7th, 2005 U2's mammoth Vertigo tour is a finalist in four categories for the Billboard Touring Awards, the most of any outing this year. HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB has been one of their best selling as well and includes four successful singles : "Vertigo", "All Because of You", "Sometimes you can't make it on your own" and "City of Blinding Lights". On July 2nd, 2005 U2 took part in Live 8, the concert to "Make Poverty History" as proposed by the "One Campaign" an organization created by Bono to help with various issues in Africa. They opened the show in London by performing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. After they finished a 4 song set, they immediately flew to Vienna to perfom a Vertigo show they had scheduled for the same day. U2 are true troopers and they never seem to stop amazing their fans. With U2 the uncertain is always a good sign that the final product will be one well worth waiting for. After 25 years of a great musical career and an outstanding collection of songs, fans around the world hope the magic continues for a while longer. Walk on.
Bono's house in Ireland and Clarence Hotel owned by The Edge and Bono
**Written and compiled by ZoraidaLu1 (Zory) from the entries on the book by Mark Chatterton: "U2: The Ultimate Encyclopedia", Fire Fly Publishing: London, 2004 (Revised Edition), and current U2 news from our Pop Lemon News Archives.