// U2 Biography // The history of U2, Part 4The 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
// The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum (1987 - 1989)
In 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree. The album debuted at #1 in the U.K., quickly reached #1 in the U.S., and would go on to win the Grammy Award for Album on the Year. The singles "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" also quickly went to #1 in the U.S., with "Where the Streets Have No Name" being another heavily played track. U2 was the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time magazine (following The Beatles, The Band, and The Who), who declared that U2 was "Rock's Hottest Ticket".
The Joshua Tree Tour sold out stadiums around the world, the first time the band had consistently played venues of that size . Bono and U2 were still able to seize the moment. At Wembley Stadium in London, in 1987, U2 sang a haunting version of The Beatles' "Help!" - dedicating it to those in the audience who were dreading another five years of the recently re-elected Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
The band began to film and record various shows from the tour for the documentary and album Rattle and Hum in 1988 and released on video in 1989. That album became a tribute to American music, when the band recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, performed with Bob Dylan and B.B. King, and sang about blues great Billie Holiday. The band also covered The Beatles' "Helter Skelter", declaring "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles; we're stealin' it back."
Live footage from Joshua Tree Tour concerts at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona and McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado featured prominently in the film. The McNichols footage, shot in black and white, included performances from the back catalog while color material from Sun Devil mostly comprised (then) current material. Two shows were filmed in Tempe. To ensure a full stadium, tickets were discounted to $5.00 a piece.
Despite a positive reception from fans, Rattle and Hum received mixed-to-negative reviews from both film and music critics. U2 went on the Lovetown Tour (with special guest B.B. King), which visited Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, but avoided the US and most of Europe. Perhaps feeling that U2 was somewhat stagnating, Bono announced during a December 30, 1989 concert in Dublin that it was time "to go away and dream it all up again."
Continue reading the history of U2 in the next part: Achtung Baby, Zoo TV and Zooropa.