A little bit of history… Discograpy For U2′s Early History and Their Rise to Stardom.
U2 started as the “Larry Mullen Band” in the band’s humble beginnings back in 1976 in Dublin. A fourteen year old Larry Mullen Jr. posted a notice on his secondary school’s (Mount Temple Comprehensive School) notice board seeking musicians for a new band. Started off as a band of seven which included Dik Evans (Edge’s Brother) and 2 friends of Mullen- Peter Martin and Ivan McCormick. It soon became clear to other band members that Bono (Paul Hewson) didn’t really know how to play guitar or could sing great, but the other band members decided to stick with him because of the obvious energy he brought.
Within a few weeks Martin and McCormick left. U2 then called themselves “Feedback” playing covers with an obvious influence of Post Punk Rock. By 1978 the band was known as “The Hype”, and with the band favouring a 4 piece set, Dik Evans left the band on good terms. With The Edge (Dave Evans) on guitar, Bono (Paul Hewson) on vocals, Larry Mullen Jr. on drums and Adam Clayton on Bass, U2 was officially Born.
On Saint Patrick’s day in 1978 U2 won a talent show in Limerick, Ireland in which they played original material and won £500 and a chance to record a demo. Hot Press journalist Bill Graham introduced Paul McGuiness to the band and was asked and agreed to be the band’s manager. They released the EP, “Three”, which was an Ireland-only release, and shot up the charts on the strength of “Out of Control”. They released the single “Another Day”, through the CBS label, but again it was an Ireland-only release. In 1979 they performed for the first time outside of Ireland, in London but failed to get much attention. In 1980 U2 received their first big breakthrough, being signed up by Island Records on a four record deal. They released the album “Boy” soon after, which featured the single “I Will Follow”.
Although the majority view was that the band was still raw, unpolished and unfocused, their potential, energy and passion were obvious in the overriding theme of adolescent angst in their debut album. “October” was released the following year and the band began experimenting with different themes, which transformed from angst to spirituality. Subsequently the album did not sell well and received mixed reviews, but did manage to showcase bono’s ability to songwrite on deep level. Their energetic live performances during European tours gave them the reputation of being a great live band and they moved quickly to record their breakthrough albulm, “War”.
In 1983, with the release of their first single “New Year’s Day”, the band received their first top 10 UK hit. The album “War” was released soon after, which received wide acclaimed and became an instant success reaching number 1 in the UK, and sold out shows in both Europe and America. Rolling Stone rated the album 4.5/5, in an album that was the band’s first overtly political album, conversing from the spiritual themes of “October”. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was a crowd favourite and was performed at Live Aid in 1985. In addition to war the live album “Under A Blood Red Sky”, which contained live performance from Denver, Boston and Germany.
In 1984, with four albums under their belt U2 successfully negotiated a new deal with Island Records, which gave them a lucrative extension and artistic freedom, while gaining copyright on their songs. They released “The Unforgettable Fire”, which again signalled a new change in direction, enlisting the help producer Brian Eno. U2 were already willing to experiment and instead of staying with the same political themes of “War”, the album was lyrically abstract and had an atmospheric feel. Although the album was not as warmly received by music critics as “War”, it reached number 1 in both America and Australia, mostly on the strength of singles, “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Bad”. With only half of the decade through, U2 was proclaimed “Band of the 80’s” by Rolling Stone Magazine.
U2 released the EP, “Wide Awake in America” in 1985, which contained 2 live tracks and 2 “Unforgettable Fire” outtakes. In 1986 they recorded “The Joshua Tree”, which was released in March 1987. The album was a massive success, reaching number 1 in America and the UK, while the singles, “With or Without You” and “I still haven’t Found What I’m Looking for” reaching number 1, “Where the Streets have No Name” was also a top ten hit.
The “Joshua Tree” with its American blues and gospel influence was a spiritual awakening for U2, which realised for the first time, that they ‘did not have any history’. This completed the cycle from adolescence to manhood for the band which had now reached full maturity. Looking from the outside however, U2 not only became the biggest band in the world, but for most, ‘the only band that matters.’