U2 is a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion). The band formed at Mount Temple secondary school in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency.
Within four years, they signed to Island Records and released their debut album ''Boy'' in 1980. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the album included the band's first hit single, “I Will Follow” which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
“October” the band’s second LP was again produced by Lillywhite and was released in 1981. The record placed an emphasis on religion and spirituality, particularly in the songs “Gloria,” “With a Shout (Jerusalem)” and “Tomorrow.”
Their third album, “War,” again produced by Lillywhite, was released in 1983 and reached #12 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and became their first gold selling album there. The album has come to be regarded as U2's first overtly political album, in part because of songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year's Day,” as well as the title, which stems from the band's perception of the world at the time. In January 1983, “New Year's Day” was released internationally as the album's lead single and was the first release by the band to reach the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.
U2 employed Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to produce and assist them experiment with a more ambient and abstract sound on their 1984 album, “The Unforgettable Fire.” The album, which would eventually be certified 3x platinum, peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200. “Pride (In the Name of Love)“ was released as the album's lead single in September 1984, and it was at that point the band's biggest hit. It cracked the Hot 100 Top 40, peaking at #33. “The Unforgettable Fire” was released as the second single in April 1985.
“The Joshua Tree,” released in 1987 and produced by Eno and Lanois, was a breakthrough success for U2 and topped the charts in over 20 countries while reaching diamond sales certification. The first two singles, “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,” quickly became the group's first #1 hits on the Hot 100, while “Where the Streets Have No Name” reached #13. At the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988, U2 won their first two Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.
“Rattle and Hum,” U2's sixth album and companion documentary style motion picture were both released in 1988. The album once again topped the Billboard 200 and would be certified 5x platinum by the RIAA.
1991’s “Achtung Baby” was again produced by Eno and Lanois and would go on to peak at #1 on the Billboard 200 and in several other countries. The 8x platinum certified album featured five singles, including U.S. Top 40 hits, “One,” “Mysterious Ways” and “Even Better Than the Real Thing.” The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
“Zooropa” was released in 1993 and was produced by Eno, The Edge and Flood. Despite none of its three singles, “Numb,” “Lemon” and “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” being hits consistently across regions, the record sold well upon release and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and in multiple countries. In 1994, “Zooropa” won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
U2’s ninth studio album, “Pop” was released in 1997. Recording sessions began in 1995 with various record producers, including Nellee Hooper, Flood, Howie B, and Steve Osborne, who were introducing the band to various electronica influences. Although it reached #1 in 35 countries, including the Billboard 200, “Pop's” lifetime sales are among the lowest in U2's catalogue. The lead single, “Discothèque” is notable for being U2's only single since 1991 to crack the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #10. The follow-up single “Staring at the Sun” became a Top 40 success in the U.S., but to a lesser extent, peaking at #26 on the Hot 100. “Last Night on Earth” was released as the third single, but did not crack the Top 40, peaking at #57. “Please,” “If God Will Send His Angels” and “Mofo” were subsequently released as singles, but none reached the Hot 100.
Released in 2000, “All that You Can’t Leave Behind” again featured production from Lanois and Eno and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, while eventually reaching 4x platinum status. The lead single, “Beautiful Day” peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 and won the Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Record of the Year in 2001. “Walk On” won Record of the Year, “Elevation” won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and “Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of” won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at 2002 Grammy Awards. The album also won Best Rock Album that year. “All That You Can't Leave Behind” is the only album ever to have two singles win “Record of the Year” in two consecutive years.
2004’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” was produced by Steve Lillywhite, with others involved in the production including Flood, Jacknife Lee, Nellee Hooper, Chris Thomas, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, and Carl Glanville. The 3x certified platinum album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and in many other countries. It yielded several successful singles in “Vertigo,” “City of Blinding Lights” and “Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own.” The album was awarded nine Grammy Awards overall in 2005 and 2006, winning in all of the categories in which it was nominated. It was awarded the Album of the Year award in 2006. “Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own“ from the album was awarded Song of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. “City of Blinding Lights” was awarded the award for Best Rock Song, and the album was also awarded Best Rock Album. Album producer Steve Lillywhite was also awarded Producer of the Year, Non Classical in 2006. In 2005, the single “Vertigo” from the album won in all three categories in which it was nominated, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and Best Short Form Music Video.
The band released “No Line on the Horizon” in 2009 marking the longest gap between studio albums of U2's career. Familiar producers Eno, Lanois and Lillywhite were once again enlisted. The album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200, the band’s seventh album to reach the top spot. Charting singles included, “Get on Your Boots,” “Magnificent” and “I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight.”
U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2005 and to date have sold more than 150 million records worldwide.