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U2 performing on 17 May 2005. From left to right: The Edge, Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton.
U2, Vertigo Tour, 2005.

U2 are a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The band consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). U2 have been one of the most popular acts in the world since the mid-1980s. The band has sold upwards of 170 million albums worldwide, and they have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other rock band.

U2 formed in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. By the mid-1980s, however, the band had become a top international act, noted for its anthemic sound, Bono's impassioned vocals, and The Edge's textural guitar playing. Their success as a live act was greater than as a record-selling act until their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, brought them mega-stardom. Their alternative rock/dance-infused 1991 album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour were part of a significant reinvention for the band; it was a response to their own sense of musical stagnation, the dance and alternative music revolutions, and criticism of their image. This experimentation continued for the rest of the 1990s.

In the early years of the 21st century, U2 have pursued a more traditional sound while maintaining influences from their previous musical explorations. They continue to enjoy the highest level of commercial and critical success. The band is active in human rights, international development, and social justice causes, such as Amnesty International, Make Poverty History, the ONE Campaign, Live Aid, Live 8, Bono's DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa) campaign, and Music Rising.


Selected article

The families of Detenidos Desaparecidos join U2 on stage during a performance in Santiago, Chile on the PopMart Tour in 1998.
"Mothers of the Disappeared" is a song by rock band U2. It is the eleventh and final track on their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. The song was inspired by lead singer Bono's experiences in Nicaragua and El Salvador in July 1986, following U2's involvement on Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope tour. He learned of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, a group of women whose children had been "disappeared" by the Argentine and Chilean dictatorships. While in Central America, he met members of COMADRES, a similar organization whose children had been disappeared by the government in El Salvador. Bono sympathized with the Madres and COMADRES and wanted to pay tribute to their cause.

The song was written on a Spanish guitar, and the melody lifted from a piece Bono composed in Ethiopia in 1985 to help teach children basic forms of hygiene. The lyrics contain an implicit criticism of the Reagan Administration, which backed two South American regimes that seized power during coup d'états and which provided financial support for the military regime in El Salvador. Thematically it has been interpreted as an examination of failures and contradictions in US foreign policy.

"Mothers of the Disappeared" was played seven times on the 1987 Joshua Tree Tour. It was revived for four concerts on the 1998 PopMart Tour in South America, and for two of them, the Madres joined the band onstage for the performance. The song was played a further three times on the U2 360° Tour; one performance was dedicated to Fehmi Tosun, an ethnic Kurd who was forcibly disappeared in Turkey in 1995. Bono re-recorded the song a cappella in 1998 for the album ¡Ni Un Paso Atras!.


Selected picture

Adam Clayton playing the bass guitar on stage in a stadium
Credit: Giacomo DV
Adam Clayton performing with U2 at the Olympic Stadium in Turin, 6 August 2010.

Did you know...

  • ... that The Edge and Adam Clayton switch instruments on the song "40" due to the fact that Clayton was not present for the studio recording?
  • ... that the U2 song "Magnificent" was originally titled "French Disco"?
  • ... that Brian Eno described Kaddish, an album that reflects on the Holocaust, as "the most frightening record I have ever heard"?


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Selected biography

Bono at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Paul David Hewson KBE (born 10 May 1960), known by his stage name Bono (/ˈbɒn/, is an Irish singer, musician, venture capitalist, businessman and activist. He is best recognized as the frontman, primary vocalist and lyricist of the Dublin-based rock band U2. Bono was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his future wife, Alison Stewart, and the future members of U2. Bono writes almost all U2 lyrics, frequently using religious and social, and occasional political themes. During their early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to U2's rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with members of U2.

Outside the band, he has collaborated and recorded with numerous artists, is managing director and a managing partner of Elevation Partners, and has refurbished and owns The Clarence Hotel in Dublin with The Edge. Bono is also widely known for his activism concerning Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign and Product Red. He has organised and played in several benefit concerts and has met with influential politicians. Bono has been praised and criticised for his activism and involvement with U2.

He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and, with Bill and Melinda Gates, was named Time Person of the Year in 2005, among other awards and nominations. On 17 July 2013, the BBC announced that Bono had been made a Commandeur of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters).



  • "I don't know, I don't know which side I'm on. / I don't know my right from left or my right from wrong. / They say I'm a fool, they say I'm nothing / But if I'm a fool for you oh, that's something." —"Two Hearts Beat as One" (U2), War (1983)
  • "Rock N Roll Stops The Traffic" —Bono, spray-painted onto the Vaillancourt Fountain during a free concert in San Francisco (11 November 1987)
  • "“Zoo Station” is four minutes of a television that's not tuned into any station, but giving you interference and shash and almost a TV picture. “The Fly” is information meltdown—text, sayings, truisms, untruisms, oxymorons, soothsayings, etc., all blasted at high speed, just fast enough so it's impossible to actually read what's being said. “Even Better Than the Real Thing” is whatever happens to be flying around the stratosphere on that night. Satellite TV pictures, the weather, shopping channel, cubic zirconium diamond rings, religious channels, soap operas..." —The Edge, in an interview conducted by BP Fallon for Zoo Radio describing the visual material that accompanied the first three songs of the show (27 November 1992)
  • "Great ideas and great melodies have a lot in common" —Bono, transcript from Larry King Weekend's interview (2002)


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