Members: Bono (Paul David Hewson), The Edge (David Howell Evans), Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Genre: Rock / Alternative Rock / Post Punk / Pop
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Awards: 22 Grammy Awards
Albums: Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can't Leave Behind, No Line on the Horizon
Hits: "Where the Streets Have No Name," "One," "Beautiful Day"
Few people have not heard of Bono or are unfamiliar with U2's melodic sound and strong, emotive vocals. This Irish rock band was formed in 1976 in Dublin when its members were still teenagers. Decades later, their skills honed and their style streamlined, U2 still wows fans around the world while also contributing to the relief of poverty, disease and social injustice.
U2 was formed when percussionist Larry Mullen Jr. gathered a group of students from his secondary school who responded to a recruitment notice he posted at the school. Originally called “Feedback,” the band also called themselves “The Hype” for a brief period before settling on “U2” in 1978. This was the same year that the band won a talent competition in Limerick, which won them £500 and a record demo, an important step for the young band.
In 1980, U2 signed with Island Records and released their first international single, “11 O'Clock Tick Tock.” They soon followed this with the release of their first album, Boy, which they promoted with a tour of Europe and the United States.
The band broke up for a short period in 1981 over spiritual conflicts among members. U2's second album, October, was largely devoted to spiritual themes, and these conflicts surfaced during the recording of this album. However, by 1983 the band was back together and had released a third album focused on pacifism. This album, called War, included the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” which is still played on radio stations around the world today.
Over the course of the next few years, U2 continued to build their fan base and find their sound with the albums Under a Blood Red Sky, The Unforgettable Fire, Wide Awake in America, and The Joshua Tree. The Joshua Tree proved to be an important record for the band, elevating them to superstar status. During this time, the band also began contributing to aid work around the developing world, including through the Live Aid concert for Ethiopian famine relief and Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope tour.
The 1990 release of the album Achtung Baby marked a dramatic stylistic change for the band, who had recently been criticized for the documentary Rattle and Hum that was made from footage of the band's Joshua Tree tour. The band was not in agreement, however, over the direction this change should go, and the recording of this album proved to be a time of tumult within the band.
Over the course of the decade, U2 continued to experiment with new sounds and musical styles. In 2000, they released All That You Can't Leave Behind, which was received positively by fans and critics alike, and debuted in the No. 1 spot in 22 countries. U2's popular acclaim has continued to grow over the years, winning the band almost two dozen Grammy Awards and a 2005 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
U2's 2009 tour, called the 360° Tour, features the music of their 12th album, No Line on the Horizon. The album, released in February 2009, was recorded between June 2007 and December 2008, and is the band's first release since 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. The tour planned for this album will encompass stops at stadiums worldwide. The European leg of the tour will start at the end of June and take the band through Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Poland, Croatia and the United Kingdom. The North American leg will start in Chicago in September and will make 21 stops before wrapping up in late October. It is rumored that the band will schedule a South American leg of the tour for 2010.
The sounds of No Line on the Horizon are partially inspired by a two-week trip U2 took to Morocco, which led them to use more experimental sounds than they have used in previous albums. A collaboration with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois also contributed to the sounds of this album.
The 360° Tour is so called because the band will play in stadiums rather than indoor arenas, meaning that the viewing configuration will be 360 degrees. The 360-degree design affords unobstructed views for the stadium spectators and increases venue capacity by 15 to 20 percent, as there are no longer any sections "behind" the stage. This the first time a band has toured with such a stage design, and U2 is excited about trying out this new design.