U2 History Part 1
In 1976, Larry Mullen Junior posted an advertisement on the notice board at Mount Temple High School for people who were interested in forming a rock band. Out of the group came Bono (Paul Hewson), Adam Clayton and the Evans brothers David (christened by Bono as "The Edge") and Dik. Although the group could not play very well, they nonetheless declared themselves a band. And so Feedback was born. However, the name was not kept very long and they were soon known as "The Hype"
In autumn of 1977, the band performed at a talent contest at Mount Temple high school where they were well received. However, after the performance, Dik Evans left the band to join the Virgin Prunes, and the band's name was changed to "the Hype". Dik left citing a difference of opinions in the way the band was heading between him and the members - "They became very intense about it and I wasn't, it was almost a generation gap type of gulf between us. I just didn't fit in, the attitude more than anything".U2 History Part 2
U2 entered the 1980's in low spirits contributed by their poor showing in the UK charts and acts and the termination of the contract with CBS Sony. Not all was bad news however, as U2 still won major categories in the Hot Press reader’s poll. Despite their initial setbacks in their performances and recordings, U2 managed to sign up an international four label recording deal with Island Records with the help of Rob Partridge, an influential fan working in the company. This saw the release of Island record's first U2 single "11 O’clock Tick Tock", U2's reaction towards the lack of depth contributed by the London club scene when people dress up to gain acceptance from others. This scored U2 another Irish hit.
In October 1980, U2 released their first LP "Boy" after touring Britain. "Boy" concentrated on the theme of moving on from boyhood and departs significantly from U2's earlier punk roots towards a more alternative form of rock and roll. Bono would later say about "Boy" - "Boy" was a retrospective of U2 over two years - the end of our adolescence. It wasn't a question of making the music sound a certain way.”U2 History Part 3
After a hectic and successful tour, U2 settled down to record music for their second album "October". One of their songs "Fire" was already completed during a rest period they had while performing in America. The song was recorded in a studio in the Bahamas used by artists signed up by Island records.
Just when things appeared to go smoothly, Bono realized that he had lost his notes for the songs and the briefcase that stored them while on tour in America. Either his case was stolen by two girls who had entered the studio, or Bono had simply misplaced it, no one really knows. Nevertheless, U2 were sent into a tailspin and the making of their new record became a constant struggle against time and commitment for the band and the producer Steve Lillywhite.U2 had a three week deadline to meet for the new record, which did not allow for much time to write the songs. For each recording session, U2 and the producer were under immense pressure to deliver the results. Bono - "I had a choice, panic or meet the situation. Maybe that's how I should work; every time I put pen to paper my head gets in the way anyhow. The pressure was enormous. Lillywhite himself has said it was the hardest record he has ever worked on in his life. I'd come in and he'd quietly say, "Sing?” I'd say, "no, it's not right today." The pressure was so ridiculous that one day our manager asked Lillywhite if he'd dealt with another band that worked like us. Lillywhite put his head on his hands and sighed". The song "Gloria" tended to reflect this situation, where Bono asks God to help him sing - "I try to speak up/ But only in you I'm complete".U2 History Part 4
U2 celebrated the beginning of 1982 with a successful tour of London and Dublin, where they performed in front of a crowd of 5000 at the Dublin RDS in January, before leaving for America. Once again, U2 have reaffirmed their position as one of the best live acts in this time.
In March 1982, U2 released their new single "A Celebration". Their single successfully entered the UK charts, reaching the top 50. "A Celebration" follows on from "October" of the human spirit, but in a more defiant form - "by the powers that be". The B-side, "Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl" - a song written by Bono about Adam - seemed totally removed from this, but instead showed U2's spontaneity in writing songs - the song was recorded in two hours. Unlike the other singles, this one was released without a corresponding album.U2 History Part 5
U2 continued on with their new found success by showcasing some of their new songs on "War" in Europe, using their strength in live performances to promote their album. Their hard work paid dividends, with "New Years Day" going to number 10 in the UK while earning a top 60 position in the US charts, and their new album going to number 1 in the UK.
As predicted, "War" provided a slightly different sound from both "October" and "Boy", showing U2's determination in making a different kind of music while trying to discover their musical roots. Since their formation, they have developed their own rock style, with the Edge being the pioneer. At the making of their new album, the time had come for them to look at other styles and perhaps use them at any opportunity. This became clearly apparent with "Seconds" where the Edge used an acoustic guitar. But in "New Years Day" and "Two hearts beat as one", the bass and much of the rhythm section dominated the first producing an awe-inspiring number while the other producing an obvious rhythmic sound.U2 History Part 6
U2 by now have already achieved substantial success in their "War" tour, with some shows selling out. Throughout their campaign, the white flag was used frequently by Bono at performances to symbolize peace. And at the US festival in California (which also featured David Bowie, The Pretenders, Steve Nicks and John Cougar) where U2 performed in front of a crowd of 300,000 Bono once again catches the audience's attention with his stage antics where he climbed to the top of the stage to get the attention of the people at the back and placed a white flag for all to see. Bono later commented on this event saying - "People are quite aware that there's no stage big enough for me - I like to stretch the stage and I've often found myself singing from the back of the hall rather than the front".
Such was their success on tour and the advent of MTV and music videos the manager of U2, Paul McGuiness, felt the time was right to record a live performance of U2.U2 History Part 7
When U2 began the progress of making their new album, they knew that a big change needed to be made if their creative spark were to continue. Although "War" had been successful commercially, they knew that following the style of music on the album would lead to eventual failure. To continue on with something like "War" would make their creative spirit dependent on the expectations of their peers - that U2 could change the world with hard-hitting, "slap in the face" music. In addition, U2 wanted to make something with individuality which they could identify themselves with and that gave them a reason why they formed in a band in the first place - "..."Boy" is a sexual record of sorts. "October" is a spiritual record. "War" I don't know what. It was as if U2 were learning how to be U2. Now we want to find out what U2 can do". Because of this, they chose Brian Eno as their new producer to replace Steve Lillywhite who also followed U2's philosophy in making original music.
Initially, Eno didn't find their past music inspiring. However, he made up his mind to become the producer as soon as he met U2. Eno on Bono and U2 - "He talked about how they worked as a band, not in terms of playing and so forth, but in terms of contribution, what contributed to the identity of the band as a whole". So intrigued was Eno on Bono's comments and beliefs that Eno couldn't resist the temptation and decided to help them out, choosing Slane Castle as the location to produce their new music in May 1984 before returning back to Windmill Lane in June.U2 History Part 8
U2 began their tour in August before the release of their new album. Unlike their past tours, U2 were now performing in front of large audiences. Despite this, their shows still sold out, an example being the April 1 1985 Madison Square Garden show, New York, in which all 20,000 seats were sold in 1 hour. However U2 were also not without their dramas, where in January 1985, the Radio City Music Hall show in New York was stopped 18 times by fans running on to the stage. At one point, a security guard even pulled a gun on Bono. In addition, U2 toured Australia and New Zealand for the first time, despite their hectic schedule in finishing their album.
However the most memorable performance came during Live Aid at the Wembley Stadium on July 1985. U2 were headlined with 22 other acts and had to perform in a 15 minute time slot at 5 in the afternoon. But Bono got carried away, not only did he run over the fifteen minute time slot, he also went out to the crowd and hugged a woman. After this, Bono felt that he had failed himself and the band as a whole. So Bono spent days driving out by himself wondering why he had been so foolish during the performance that was meant to help raise money to save lives in Ethiopia.U2 History Part 9
U2 continued their humanitarian stand by appearing on the "Artists against Apartheid" album "Sun City" with their single "Silver and Gold" in August 1985. Other artists included Steve Van Zandt, Clarence Clemens, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Jimmy Cliff, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone and Bobby Womack.
On the subject of the song Bono commented - "It's a song about sanctions and it takes the idea originally going to South Africa for the silver and gold. A lot of world crises are economic issues. They are disguised by religious or politician fronts, but the root of them is often economic, and the song is getting at that, really."