An aspiring drummer, fourteen-year-old Larry Mullen Jr. places an ad on the notice board of Dublin’s non-denominational Mount Temple school. looking for a band. Ofthe like-minded souls who set up in his kitchen, only he and Dave Evans (later to be The Edge) could be said to have any musical ability. Paul (Bono) Hewson is advised to shelve plans of being the group’s lead guitarist. Dave’s brother Dick. who can play, drops out ofthe line-up, later emerging in The Virgin Prunes.
The band‘s first gig at Mount Temple. The show includes songs by Peter Frampton, The Beach Boys and The Bay City Rollers. Bono: ‘It would be two years before we played another like it.‘
The band record three tracks which are to be issued on a CBS Ireland
5 single. DJ Dave Fanning plays them
on his show and asks listeners to choose which should be the A-side. ‘Out OfControl'. limited to 1000 copies. becomes the fastest-selling 12in single in Ireland.
Island Records have taken the plunge and signed the band. The first single is ‘ 11 O‘Clock Tick Tock‘. produced by Martin Hannet (selected by U2 for his work on Joy
Division‘s Unknown Pleasures). who 7
takes an unusual approach to a band who are still searching for their sound.
The first album. Boy, is greeted as a brave and original work, and much of the album‘s success can be put down to the choice of Steve Lillywhite as a creative and sympathetic producer. Word oftheir ecstatic live shows is starting to get around.
Fault lines appear in the ranks. Bono, The Edge and Larry become involved with a Christian sect called
i Shalom. and are riven with doubt as to whether they should continue in the dirty world of rock. Adam Clayton. the agnostic of the group, is increasingly isolated and the future of the band is in doubt. Their confusion shows in the messy and largely unappealing October.
Bono marries Alison Stewart. His choice of Adam Clayton as best man signifies that the rift in the band is heahng.
U2’s first annus mirabilis. An angry and militant U2 surfaces on their third LP, War. As Bono sings ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and waves white ﬂags. he starts to earn a reputation for pomposity. Nevertheless, the single ‘New Year’s Day’. inspired by the struggle of Solidarity in Poland, becomes their first bona fide hit. A film ofthe band live at Red Rocks, Colorado, is shown on The Midsummer Night’s Tube and suddenly everyone is talking about this breathtaking live band. Bono‘s stage antics become more and more extreme until, one night in May. he goes walkies on the canopy six stories above a San Bernardino audience and feels it rip
beneath his feet. He is persuaded by the rest of the crew to tone down.
i September 1984
The release of ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)‘, the first fruits of their work with ambient soundscape artist and former Roxy Music electronics wizard Brian Eno. With Eno‘s gentle guidance, the band return to the textured sound they do best. The resulting album, The Unforgettable Fire, however, is anything but Boy 2.
: January 1985
Adam knocks down a policeman and drags him 45 yards behind his car after telling him to ‘stop messing about and fuck off‘, according to the Irish Evening News. He is disqualified from driving fOr two years. (A few years later, he has another brush with the law, this time
in close proximity to a large quantity of ganja; to ensure that Ireland’s greatest export can play around the world unencumbered, Clayton is treated leniently, his record unsullied by a drug conviction.)
U2 play Live Aid, and despite Queen’s legendary set, they make a powerful impact. Bono’s spontaneous act of pulling an audience member on stage and embracing her sums up the spirit of the event to many, but the band return to Dublin depressed, feeling they’ve blown it.
Bono gets down with Keith Richards and Ron Wood and gets his first taste of ‘real blues’. Overcome, he returns to his room and writes ‘Silver And Gold’ the same night. The song is rushed, without a credit on the sleeve, onto the Sun City protest album, and the band start to pursue the grail of The Song rather than The Sound.
U2 join Peter Gabriel, Sting, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, Bryan Adams, The Neville Brothers and Jackson Browne in the Conspiracy Of Hope tour in aid of Amnesty International. For the first time, they play cover versions before an audience: ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Help’ and ‘Maggie‘s Farm’.
Bono and his wife Ali undertake seven weeks relief work in Ethiopia and find themselves caught in an air raid in El Salvador. Bono returns to the band and in his usual understated way instructs The Edge to ‘put El
Salvador through the speakers’. The show-stopping ‘Bullet The Blue Sky‘ results.
: Annus mirabilis Mark II. Theloshua
Tree is a whopper. U2 take over the world, and become the first band to appear on the cover of Time since The Who in 1970. Their mammoth tour is dogged by the movie cameras
ofdirector Phil Joannou, who is immortalising it for the forthcoming movie Rattle And Hum. The band use the movie and its accompanying album to pay tribute to the founding heroes of blues and rock’n‘roll. So deeply do they get into it that they seek out BB King to play with and record several tracks in the historic surroundings ofSun Studios in Memphis. The band mark the appearance of Eamonn Dunphy‘s biography, Unforgettable Fire, originally written with their full co-operation, by dissociating themselves from it.
Comments made by Sinead O’Connor in an interview are splashed all over the NME. creating an almighty ruckus. ‘There isn’t a band in Dublin who could get anywhere if they aren‘t in some way associated with U2‘ is one comment which is received bitterly by the band.
‘Can U2 mind their own business?‘ asks Q magazine in an article which dredges up the tangled history of their Dublin-based label. Mother Records. Accusations ﬂy of mismanagement and the band acting like ‘feudal lords’. By this stage, Larry Mullen Jr is the only band member still actively involved with the label.
‘The Fly' had been the warning shot across the boughs. and the album from whence it came. Achtung Baby (recorded in a former Nazi ballroom in Berlin). empties two barrels of ambiguity and weirdness in the face of a record-buying public who thought they knew all they needed to
; know about U2. Bonojabbers 3 excitedly about Kraftwerk as a great
: least significant. er. member ofthe
white soul band and Adam Clayton proudly scotches all talk that he‘s the
i In the USA. the Zoo TV tour kicks ‘ off. a multi-media experience as far
from the conventional rock show as has ever been done in an arena. Banks ofTV screens and suspended
I. Trabant cars surround the stage. ,
Bono gleefully parodies the
rock-star look with shades. leather and lame and during one show. in a genuine showbiz first. phones out for '
a pizza. J
“r List 5‘— l8June W927