U2 Overview

U2 are a rock rock music band from Dublin, Ireland. The group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion).

The band formed at Mount Temple secondary school in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed to Island Records and released their debut album Boy Boy (album) . By the mid-1980s, they had become a top international act. They were more successful as a live act than they were at selling records, until their 1987 album The Joshua Tree, which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band's stature "from heroes to superstars".

Their 1991 album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour were a musical and thematic reinvention for the band. Reacting to their own sense of musical stagnation and a late-1980s critical backlash, U2 incorporated dance music Electronic dance music and alternative rock into their sound and performances, replacing their earnest image with a more ironic tone. Similar experimentation continued for the remainder of the 1990s. Since 2000, U2 have pursued a more conventional sound, while maintaining influences from their previous musical explorations.

U2 have released 12 studio albums and are among the most critically and commercially successful List of best-selling music artists groups in po***r music. They have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, and they have sold more than 145 million records. In 2005, the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone magazine listed U2 at #22 in its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes, including Amnesty International, the ONE Campaign, Product Red, and Bono's DATA campaign.


Formation and early years (1976–79)

The band formed in Dublin on 25 September 1976.
The Unforgettable Fire was released in 1984. Ambient Ambient music and abstract, it was at the time the band's most marked change in direction.
Motivated by friendships with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Keith Richards, the band looked back to the roots of rock music, and Bono focused on his skills as a song and lyric writer. Realising "that U2 had no tradition", the band explored American blues, folk folk music , and gospel music. For their fifth album, The Joshua Tree, the band wanted to build on The Unforgettable Fire s atmospherics, but instead of its out-of-focus tracks, they sought a harder-hitting sound within the strict discipline of conventional song structures. U2 interrupted their 1986 album sessions to serve as a headline act on Amnesty International's Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope tour. Rather than being a distraction, the tour added extra intensity and power to their new music. In 1986, Bono travelled to San Salvador and Nicaragua and saw first-hand the distress of peasants bullied in internal conflicts that were subject to American political intervention. The experience became a central influence on the new music.

album sleeve. Adam Clayton said "The desert was immensely inspirational to us as a mental image for this record".
The Joshua Tree was released in March 1987. The album juxtaposes antipathy towards America against the band's deep fascination with the country, its open spaces, freedom, and what it stands for. The band wanted music with a sense of location and a "cinematic" quality, and the album's music and lyrics draw on imagery created by American writers whose works the band had been reading.
The Joshua Tree became the fastest-selling album in British chart history, and was number one for nine weeks in the United States. The album's first two singles, "With or Without You" which declared U2 "Rock's Hottest Ticket". The album won U2 their first two Grammy Awards, and it brought the band a new level of success. Many publications, including Rolling Stone, have cited it as one of rock's greatest. The Joshua Tree Tour was the first tour on which the band played shows in stadiums, alongside smaller arena shows.

The documentary Rattle and Hum featured footage recorded from The Joshua Tree Tour, and the accompanying double album of the same name included nine studio tracks and six live U2 performances. Released in October 1988, the album and film were intended as a tribute to American music, and included recordings at Sun Studios Sun Records in Memphis Memphis, Tennessee and performances with Bob Dylan and B. B. King. Rattle and Hum performed modestly at the box office and received mixed reviews from both film and music critics; one Rolling Stone editor spoke of the album's "excitement", another described it as "bombastic and misguided". The film's director, Phil Joanou, described it as "an overly pretentious look at U2". Most of the album's new material was played on 1989's Lovetown Tour, which visited Australia, Japan and Europe, because the band wanted to avoid the American backlash. In addition, they had grown dissatisfied with their live performances; Mullen recalled that "We were the biggest, but we weren't the best". With a sense of musical stagnation, Bono said to fans on one of the last dates of the tour that it was "the end of something for U2" and that they had to "go away and just dream it all up again".

Achtung Baby, Zoo TV, and Zooropa (1990–93)

Stung by the criticism of Rattle and Hum, the band made a calculated change in musical and thematic direction for their seventh studio album, Achtung Baby; the change was one of their most dramatic since The Unforgettable Fire. They began work on Achtung Baby in East Berlin in October 1990 with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, seeking inspiration on the eve of German reunification. The sessions instead proved to be difficult, as conflict arose within the group over their musical direction and the quality of their material. While Clayton and Mullen preferred a sound similar to U2's previous work, Bono and Edge were inspired by alternative rock and European dance music electronic dance music and advocated a change. Weeks of slow progress, arguments, and tension subsided when the band rallied around a chord progression The Edge had composed to improvise the song "One One (U2 song) ". They completed the album in 1991 in Dublin.

In November 1991, U2 released Achtung Baby. Sonically, the album incorporated alternative rock, dance, and industrial industrial music influences of the time, and the band referred to the album as the sound of "four men chopping down the Joshua Tree". Thematically, it was a more inward-looking and personal record; it was darker, yet at times more flippant, than the band's previous work. Commercially and critically, it has been one of the band's most successful albums. It produced the hit singles "The Fly The Fly (U2 song) ", "Mysterious Ways Mysterious Ways (song) ", and "One", and it was a crucial part of the band's early 1990s reinvention. Like The Joshua Tree, many publications have cited the record as one of rock's greatest. Prank phone calls were made to President Bush George H. W. Bush , the United Nations, and others. Live satellite uplinks to war-torn Sarajevo caused controversy.

Quickly recorded during a break in the Zoo TV tour in mid-1993, the Zooropa album continued many of the themes from Achtung Baby and the Zoo TV Tour. Initially intended as an EP Extended play , the band expanded Zooropa into a full-length LP album. It was an even greater departure from the style of their earlier recordings, incorporating techno influences and other electronic effects. Johnny Cash sang the vocal on the "The Wanderer The Wanderer (U2 song) ". Most of the songs were played at least once during the 1993 leg of the tour, which extended through Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan; half the album's tracks became fixtures in the setlist.

Passengers, Pop, and PopMart (1994–99)

In 1995, U2 released an experimental experimental music album called Original Soundtracks 1. Brian Eno, producer of three previous U2 albums, contributed as a full partner, including writing and performing. For this reason and due to the record's highly experimental nature, the band chose to release it under the moniker "Passengers" to distinguish it from U2's conventional albums. Mullen said of the album, "There's a thin line between interesting music and self-indulgence. We crossed it on the Passengers record." It was commercially unnoticed by U2 standards and it received generally poor reviews. However, the single "Miss Sarajevo" featuring Luciano Pavarotti, which Bono cites as one of his favourite U2 songs, was successful.


On 1997's Pop Pop (album) , U2 continued experimenting; tape loops, programming programming (music) , rhythm sequencing, and sampling Sampling (music) provided much of the album with heavy, funky dance rhythms. Released in March, the album debuted at number one in 35 countries and drew mainly positive reviews. Rolling Stone, for example, stated that U2 had "defied the odds and made some of the greatest music of their lives". Others felt that the album was a major disappointment and sales were poor compared to previous U2 releases. The band was hurried into completing the album in time for the impending pre-booked tour, and Bono admitted that the album "didn't communicate the way it was intended to".

The subsequent tour, PopMart PopMart Tour , commenced in April 1997. Like Zoo TV, it poked fun at pop culture and was intended to send a sarcastic message to those accusing U2 of commercialism. The stage included a tall golden yellow arch (reminiscent of the McDonald's logo), a long video screen, and a tall mirrorball lemon. U2's "big shtick" failed, however, to satisfy many who were seemingly confused by the band's new kitsch image and elaborate sets. The delay of Pop s release date in order to complete the album meant rehearsal time for the tour was severely reduced, and performances in early shows suffered. A highlight of the tour was a concert in Sarajevo 1997 U2 concert in Sarajevo where U2 were the first major group to perform there following the Bosnian War. Mullen described the concert as "an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life, and if I had to spend 20 years in the band just to play that show, and have done that, I think it would have been worthwhile." One month following the conclusion of the PopMart Tour, U2 appeared on the 200th episode of The Simpsons, "Trash of the Titans", in which Homer Simpson disrupted the band on stage during a PopMart concert.

"Reapplying for the job of the best band in the world" (2000–06)

Halftime Show, 3 February 2002
Following the comparatively poor reception of Pop, U2 declared they were "reapplying for the job ... [of] the best band in the world", and they have since pursued a more conventional rock sound mixed with the influences of their 1990s musical explorations. All That You Can't Leave Behind was released in October 2000 and was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. For many of those not won over by the band's 1990s music, it was considered a return to grace; Rolling Stone called it U2's "third masterpiece" alongside The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. The album debuted at number one in 22 countries and its worldwide hit single, "Beautiful Day" earned three Grammy Awards. The album's other three singles also won Grammy Awards.

For the Elevation Tour, U2 performed in a scaled-down setting, returning to arenas after nearly a decade of stadium productions. A heart-shaped stage and ramp permitted greater proximity to the audience. Following the 11 September attacks, the new album gained added resonance, and in October, U2 performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Bono and the Edge later said these New York City shows were among their most memorable and emotional performances. In early 2002, U2 performed during halftime of Super Bowl ***VI, which SI.com ranked as the best halftime show in Super Bowl history.

The band's next studio album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, was released in November 2004. The band were looking for a harder-hitting rock sound than All That You Can't Leave Behind. Thematically, Bono stated that "A lot of the songs are paeans to naiveté, a rejection of knowingness." The first single, "Vertigo Vertigo (U2 song) ", was featured on a widely-aired television commercial for the Apple Apple Inc. iPod, and a U2 iPod and an iTunes U2 box set The Complete U2 were also released as part of a promotion with Apple. The album debuted at number one in the US, where first week sales doubled that of All That You Can't Leave Behind and set a record for the band. Claiming it as a contender as one of U2's three best albums, Bono said, "There are no weak songs. But as an album, the whole isn't greater than the sum of its parts, and it *** annoys me." The album and its singles won Grammy Awards in all eight categories in which U2 were nominated. In 2005, Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A 3-D 3-D film concert film, U2 3D, filmed at nine concerts during the South America leg of the Vertigo Tour was released on 23 January 2008.

In August 2006, the band incorporated its publishing business in The Netherlands following the capping of Irish artists' tax exemption at €250,000. The Edge stated that businesses often seek to minimise their tax burdens. The band said the criticism was unfair, stating that approximately 95% of their business took place outside of Ireland, that they were taxed globally because of this, and that they were all "personal investors and employers in the country".

No Line on the Horizon and U2 360° Tour (2007–present)

The band began work on their twelfth album No Line on the Horizon in 2006, originally writing and recording with producer Rick Rubin, but the material was shelved. The band subsequently chose to begin writing and recording for the album with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno in June 2007. A two-week trip to Fez, Morocco where the six recorded led to the band experimenting with North African sounds and indicating the album would be more experimental than their previous efforts. During the album sessions, on 31 March 2008, it was confirmed that U2 signed a 12 year deal with Live Nation worth an estimated $100 million (£50 million), which includes Live Nation controlling the band's merchandise, sponsoring, and their official website.

The band completed No Line on the Horizon in December 2008, and it was released on 27 February 2009. The album received generally positive reviews, but critics noted the end result was not as experimental as expected. The U2 360° Tour began on 30 June 2009 and featured European and North American stadium dates in 2009, with additional shows in both Europe and North America in 2010. The shows feature a 360-degree staging/audience configuration, in which the fans surround the stage from all sides. On 25 June 2010 the band will headline the Glastonbury Festival Glastonbury Festival 2010 .

In 2009, Rolling Stone named U2 one of eight "Artists of the Decade". The group's tours ranked them second in total concert grosses for the decade, after The Rolling Stones.Since their inception, U2 have developed and maintained a distinctly recognisable sound, with emphasis on melodic instrumentals and expressive, larger-than-life vocals. This approach is rooted partly in the early influence of record producer Steve Lillywhite at a time when the band was not known for musical proficiency. The Edge has consistently used a rhythmic echo and a signature delay delay (audio effect) to craft his guitar work, coupled with an Irish-influenced drone drone (music) played against his syncopated melodies that ultimately yields a well-defined ambient, chiming sound. Bono has nurtured his falsetto operatic voice and has exhibited a notable lyrical bent towards social, political, and personal subject matter while maintaining a grandiose scale in his songwriting. In addition, The Edge has described U2 as a fundamentally live band. U2's sound began with post-punk roots and minimalistic and uncomplicated instrumentals heard on Boy and October, but evolved through War to include aspects of rock anthem, funk, and dance rhythms to become more versatile and aggressive. Boy and War were labelled "muscular and assertive" by Rolling Stone, Zooropa, and Pop. The 2000s had U2 returning to a stripped-down sound, with less obvious use of synthesisers and effects and a more traditional rhythm.

Lyrics and themes

Social and political commentary, often embellished with Christian religious and spiritual imagery, are a major aspect of U2's lyrical content. Songs such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday Sunday Bloody Sunday (song) ", "Silver and Gold", and "Mothers of the Disappeared" were motivated by current events of the time. The former was written about the troubles The Troubles in Northern Ireland, while the latter concerns the struggle of mothers Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo whose children were kidnapped and killed under Argentina's military dictatorship that began in 1976.

Bono's personal conflicts and turmoil inspired family colour songs like "Mofo Mofo (song) ", "Tomorrow Tomorrow (U2 song) " and "Kite Kite (song) ". An emotional yearning or pleading frequently appears as a lyrical theme, "Peace on Earth Peace on Earth (U2 song) ", and "Please Please (U2 song) ". Much of U2's songwriting and music is also motivated by contemplations of loss and anguish, coupled with hopefulness and resiliency, themes that are central to The Joshua Tree.


The band cites The Who, The Clash, Ramones, The Beatles, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Presley, and Patti Smith as influences. Van Morrison has been cited by Bono as an influence and his influence on U2 is pointed out by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other musicians and bands such as Snow Patrol, The Fray, OneRepublic, Coldplay, This Allure, The Academy Is..., The Killers, Your Vegas, and Angels & Airwaves have in turn been influenced by the work of U2. U2 have also worked and/or had influential relationships with artists including Johnny Cash, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Wim Wenders, R.E.M., Salman Rushdie, and Anton Corbijn.Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil

Since the early 1980s, the members of U2—as a band and individually—have collaborated with other musicians, artists, celebrities, and politicians to address issues concerning poverty, disease, and social injustice.

In 1984, Bono and Adam Clayton participated in Band Aid Band Aid (band) to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief. The initiative produced the hit charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which would be the first among several collaborations between U2 and Bob Geldof. In July 1985, U2 played Live Aid, a follow-up to Band Aid's efforts. Bono and his wife Ali, invited by World Vision, later visited Ethiopia where they witnessed the famine first hand. Bono would later say this laid the groundwork for his Africa campaigning and some of his songwriting.

In 1986, U2 participated in the A Conspiracy of Hope tour in support of Amnesty International and in Self Aid for unemployment in Ireland. The same year, Bono and Ali Hewson also visited Nicaragua and El Salvador at the invitation of the Sanctuary movement, and saw the effects of the El Salvador Civil War Salvadoran Civil War . These 1986 events greatly influenced The Joshua Tree album, which was being recorded at the time.

In 1992, the band participated in the "Stop Sellafield" concert with Greenpeace during their Zoo TV tour. Events in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war War in Bosnia and Herzegovina inspired the song "Miss Sarajevo", which premiered at a September 1995 Pavarotti Luciano Pavarotti and Friends show, and which Bono and the Edge performed at War Child War Child (charity) . A promise made in 1993 was kept when the band played in Sarajevo as part of 1997's PopMart Tour. In 1998, they performed in Belfast days prior to the vote on the Good Friday Agreement Belfast Agreement , bringing Northern Irish Northern Ireland political leaders David Trimble David Trimble, Baron Trimble and John Hume on stage to promote the agreement. Later that year, all proceeds from the release of the "Sweetest Thing" single went towards supporting the Chernobyl Children's Project Chernobyl Children's Project International .

In 2001, the band dedicated "Walk On Walk On (song) " to Burma's Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In late 2003, Bono and the Edge participated in the South Africa HIV/AIDS awareness 46664 46664 (concerts) series of concerts hosted by Nelson Mandela. The band played 2005's Live 8 concert in London. The band and manager Paul McGuinness were awarded Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for their work in promoting human rights.

Since 2000, Bono's campaigning has included Jubilee 2000 with Bob Geldof, Muhammad Ali, and others to promote the cancellation of third world debt during the Great Jubilee. In January 2002, Bono co-founded the multinational NGO, DATA, with the aim of improving the social, political, and financial state of Africa. He continued his campaigns for debt and HIV/AIDS relief into June 2002 by making high-profile visits to Africa.

Product Red, a 2006 for-profit brand seeking to raise money for the Global Fund The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , was founded, in part, by Bono. The ONE Campaign, the US counterpart of Make Poverty History, has been shaped by his efforts and vision. Bono has also teamed up with Yahoo! to promote the ONE Campaign, which Yahoo! has helped to re-develop.

In late 2005, following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, The Edge helped introduce Music Rising, an initiative to raise funds for musicians who lost their instruments in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast Gulf Coast of the United States . In 2006, U2 collaborated with punk rock band Green Day to record a remake of the song "The Saints Are Coming" by The Skids to benefit Music Rising.

U2 and Bono's social activism have not been without its critics however. Several authors and activists who publish in politically left journals such as CounterPunch have decried Bono's support of political figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, as well as his "essential paternalism". Other news sources have more generally questioned the efficacy of Bono's campaign to relieve debt debt relief and provide assistance to Africa. Tax and development campaigners have also criticised the band's move from Ireland to the Netherlands to reduce its tax bill.The members of U2 have undertaken a number of side projects, sometimes in collaboration with some of their bandmates. In 1985, Bono recorded the song "In a Lifetime" with the Irish band Clannad Clannad (musical group) . The Edge recorded a solo soundtrack album for the film Captive Captive Soundtrack in 1986, which included a vocal performance by Sinéad O'Connor that predates her own debut album by a year. Bono and The Edge wrote the song "She's a Mystery to Me" for Roy Orbison, which was featured on his 1989 album Mystery Girl. In 1990, Bono and The Edge provided the soundtrack to Royal Shakespeare Company London stage version of A Clockwork Orange (only one track ever released, on the B-Side to The Fly The Fly (U2 song) single). Also in 1990 Larry Mullen co-wrote and produced a song for the Irish International soccer team in Italia '90 World Cup 1990 , called "Put 'Em Under Pressure", which topped the Irish charts. Together with The Edge, Bono wrote the song "GoldenEye GoldenEye (song) " for the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, which was performed by Tina Turner. Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. did a rework of the title track of the movie Mission: Impossible Mission: Impossible (film) in 1996. Bono loaned his voice to "Joy" on Mick Jagger's 2001 album Goddess in the Doorway. Bono also recorded a spare, nearly spoken-word version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song) " for the "Tower of Song" compilation in 1995. Additionally, in 1998, Bono collaborated with Kirk Franklin and Crystal Lewis (along with other controversially mainstream artists R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige) for a successful gospel song called "Lean on Me Lean on Me (song) ", an interpretation of the Bill Withers song.

Aside from musical collaborations, U2 have worked with several authors. American author William S. Burroughs had a guest appearance in U2's video for "Last Night on Earth" shortly before he died. His poem "A Thanksgiving Prayer" was used as video footage during the band's Zoo TV Tour. Other collaborators include William Gibson and Allen Ginsberg. In early 2000, the band recorded three songs for the The Million Dollar Hotel movie soundtrack The Million Dollar Hotel: Music from the Motion Picture , including "The Ground Beneath Her Feet The Ground Beneath Her Feet (song) ", which was co-written by Salman Rushdie and motivated by his book of the same name The Ground Beneath Her Feet .

Most recently, Bono appeared and performed The Beatles songs in the movie Across the Universe Across the Universe (film) (2007). Bono and The Edge are also writing the music to the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark Spider-Man in other media#Theatre , expected to open in 2010. Additionally, The Edge created the theme song for Season 1 and 2 of the animated television series The Batman The Batman (TV series) .* Boy Boy (album) (1980)
* October October (album) (1981)
* War War (album) (1983)
* The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
* The Joshua Tree (1987)
* Rattle and Hum (1988)U2 first received Grammy Awards for the The Joshua Tree in 1988, and have won 22 in total since.


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