Indisputably one of the most popular rock acts in the world, Irish unit U2 began their musical career at school in Dublin back in 1977.
Bono (b. Paul David Hewson, 10 May 1960, Dublin, Ireland; vocals), The Edge (b. David Evans, 8 August 1961, Barking, Essex, England; guitar), Adam Clayton (b. 13 March 1960, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England; bass) and Larry Mullen Jr. (b. Laurence Mullen, 31 October 1961, Dublin, Eire; drums) initially played Rolling Stones and Beach Boys cover versions in an outfit named Feedback.
They then changed their name to the Hype before finally settling on U2 in 1978. After winning a talent contest in Limerick that year, they came under the wing of manager Paul McGuinness and were subsequently signed to CBS Records Ireland.
Their debut EP U2:3 featured "Out Of Control" (1979), which propelled them to number 1 in the Irish charts. They repeated that feat with "Another Day" (1980), but having been passed by CBS UK, they were free to sign a deal outside of Ireland with Island Records.
Their UK debut "11 O'Clock Tick Tock", produced by Martin Hannett, was well received but failed to chart.
Two further singles, "A Day Without Me" and "I Will Follow", passed with little sales while the group prepared their first album, produced by Steve Lillywhite.
Boy, a moving and inspired document of adolescence, received critical approbation, which was reinforced by the live shows that U2 were undertaking throughout the country.
Bono's impassioned vocals and the band's rhythmic tightness revealed them as the most promising live unit of 1981. After touring America, the band returned to Britain where "Fire" was bubbling under the Top 30. Another minor hit with the impassioned "Gloria" was followed by the strident October.
The album had a thrust reinforced by a religious verve that was almost evangelical in its force. In February 1983 the band reached the UK Top 10 with "New Year's Day", a song of hope inspired by the Polish Solidarity Movement.
War followed soon afterwards to critical plaudits. The album's theme covered both religious and political conflicts, especially in the key track "Sunday Bloody Sunday", which had already emerged as one of the group's most startling and moving live songs.
Given their power in concert, it was inevitable that U2 would attempt to capture their essence on a live album. Under A Blood Red Sky did not disappoint and, as well as climbing to number 2 in the UK, it brought them their first significant chart placing in the USA at number 28.
By the summer of 1984, U2 were about to enter the vanguard of the rock elite. Bono duetted with Bob Dylan at the latter's concert at Slane Castle and U2 established it’s own company, Mother Records, with the intention of unearthing fresh musical talent in Eire.