// U2 Biography // The history of U2, Part 1The story of how U2 became the biggest band in the world. Also read the individual biographies for each band member!
The history of U2 is divided into the following parts:1: Formation and breakthrough
2: Boy, October and War
3: The Unforgettable Fire and Live Aid
4: The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum
5: Achtung Baby, Zoo TV and Zooropa
6: Pop and Popmart
7: All That You Can't Leave Behind and Elevation
8: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and Vertigo
// Formation and breakthrough (1976 - 1980)
The band was formed in Dublin on Saturday, September 25, 1976. Fourteen-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a notice on his secondary school bulletin board (Mount Temple Comprehensive School) seeking musicians for a new band. The response that followed that note resulted in seven boys attending the initial practice in Larry's kitchen. Known for about a day as "The Larry Mullen Band," Larry's group featured Mullen on drums, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, Paul Hewson (Bono) on vocals, Dave Evans (The Edge) on guitar, his brother Dik Evans on guitar, Mullen's friend Ivan McCormick on guitar, and another school friend Peter Martin. Soon after, the group settled on the name Feedback. Although known as an Irish band, two members - The Edge and Adam Clayton - are actually British by birth. Both McCormick and Martin were out of the core group within a few weeks.
Hewson was nicknamed Bono Vox (allegedly meaning 'good voice' in Latin, though a more accurate translation would in fact be vox bona), after a hearing aid company's advertising sign on the corner of Dame Street and South Great Georges Street in Dublin's city centre (a different theory says he was nicknamed after a hearing aid shop by his friend Gavin Friday because he sang so loudly he seemed to be singing for the deaf). The sign has since been changed to read "Bonavox." The Edge got his name from Bono, who thought he was always on the edge of things, assessing what was going on it. Bono also thought that it was an accurate description of his head, as it had a straight edge. There are also other theories on the origins of The Edge's nickname:
- He is named after a hardware shop in Fairview, Dublin, outside of which he used to catch the bus home
- The name is due to the crispness of his playing; the "edges" it has
- Bono once claimed on Irish radio that the name was derived from the shape Edge made when playing guitar
After 18 months of rehearsals, Feedback changed their name to The Hype. The band performed with their new name at a talent show in Limerick, Ireland on 17 March 1978. One of the judges for the show happened to be CBS Records' Jackie Hayden; they won the contest, earning a £500 prize. Hayden was impressed enough with the band that he gave them studio time to record their first demo.
The Dublin punk rock guru Steve Averill (better known as Steve Rapid of the The Radiators From Space) suggested that "The Hype stinks, at least as a name." Someone offered "What about U2? It's the name of a spyplane and a submarine, and it's got an endearing inclusivity about it."
Some suggest the meaning of the name "U2" is based on their philosophy. They believe that the audience is part of their music and the concert and that "you too" (U2) are participating in the music. However, in an interview with Larry King, Bono is quoted as saying "I don't actually like the name U2," and "I honestly never thought of it as 'you too'."
Dik Evans announced his departure in March 1978. Ivan had already been dismissed by Adam Clayton with the excuse that he was too young to play at the bars in which U2 was booked. The Hype performed a farewell show for Dik at the Community Centre in Howth. Dik walked offstage halfway through the set and later joined the Virgin Prunes, a fellow Dublin band. In May, Paul McGuinness became U2's manager.
Now a four-piece with a local fan base in place, U2 released their first single in September of 1979, U2-3. It topped the Irish charts. In December of that year, U2 travelled to London for its first shows outside of Ireland, but failed to get much attention from foreign audiences and critics.
U2 made their first appearance on US television on The Tomorrow Show hosted by Tom Snyder. It aired on June 4, 1981. They performed "I Will Follow" and "Twilight" and engaged in an interview.
Continue reading the history of U2 in the next part: Boy, October and War.