U2 (formed in 1976) is a highly-successful Irish rock band, formed of Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton, hailing from Dublin, Ireland.
Formed in 1976 after Larry Mullen, Jr. posted an advertisement on the bulletin board at Dublin’s Mount Temple Comprehensive, the band soon began practicing regularly and exploring their musical interests. Initially performing under the moniker The Hype before switching to the name of an American spy plane, the band’s popularity grew in Ireland through a string of independent releases.
The band signed to Isalnd Records and released their debut full-length “Boy” in 1980, followed the year after with the LP “October”. Thanks to American radio play and notoriously impressive live shows, U2 soon made name for themselves a procured a swelling fan base. U2’s subsequent release “War” in 1983 highlighted and cemented the band’s political conscious approach, documenting the unrest in Northern Ireland. The album which debuted at No. 1 on the British chart, spawned the politically-apt singles “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day”. Following another whirlwind worldwide tour in 1983 U2 released the live EP “Under a Blood Red Sky” recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, U.S.
U2 went on to release “The Unforgettable Fire” in 1984, the fruit of a collaboration with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, despite Island Records’ reluctance. Again the band supported the release with historic arena performances including Live Aid and were even named Rolling Stone’s “Band of the ‘80s”.
By the mid-1980s U2 had become highly revered musicians, however did not become rock superstars until their 1987 album “The Joshua Tree”. It became the band’s first No. 1 U.S. hit and their third consecutive UK album to reach the top spot, certified platinum within 28 hours. The album’s success was due in part to the smash hits “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Following the release the band explored their fascination with American roots music including blues, soul and folk and delivered the album “Rattle & Hum” in 1988.
The ‘90s brought a novel-sounding U2 and a collection of albums to boot including 1990’s “Achtung Baby”, the Bowie inspired dance and electronic album, “Zooropa” the 1993 techno dance influenced album, and the collaborative album “Original Soundtracks, Vol. 1” with Brian Eno in 1995. The same year U2 renewed their contract with Island Records for an estimated $170 million.
Fan disgruntlement at U2’s new self-conscious, postmodern and dance approach did little to alter the outcome of their subsequent album “Pop”, and ultimately became fan’s least favourite album. With such criticism the band teamed up again with Eno and Lanois in 2000 to record and release “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”. The album was a rock effort and considered one of their best, led by the singles “Beautiful Day” and “Walk On”.
The band followed the release up with the No. 1 album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” in 2004, which led to the second highest grossing tour ever with $389 million. U2’s twelfth studio album “No Line on the Horizon” arrived in 2009, followed by "Songs of Innocence" in 2014, downloaded automatically to users of apple products.
U2 have sold more than 150 million records worldwide, have been awarded 22 Grammy Awards, have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility and are ranked by Rolling Stone 22nd on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.