This tour will bring you past some of the sites that shaped the history of the greatest band in the world ever!
1. Windmill Lane Studios/U2 wall: This is where the music began. The first three U2 albums were recorded here in their entirety. The band continued to use the studios throughout the 1980s. The outer walls of the studio building are something to behold. Fans from around the world have recorded their own tributes to U2 in paint, marker, and chalk. The "Windmill Studios" are no longer located at this Windmill Lane location, but have moved to Ringsend Road in Dublin. (see #3 below)
2. Hanover Quay Studios: This studio is U2 recording headquarters. Much of the work on recent albums was done here, in an unassuming building overlooking the River Liffey. These studio is closed down in 2005 and demolished as part of the city's plans for docklands revitalization. U2 will move into a new, yet-to-be-built studio down the road a bit to the east.
Address: Hanover Quay, Dublin 4.
3. Ringsend Road (Windmill) Studios: In the late 1980s, the Windmill Lane Studios moved to this new location and became the Ringsend Road Studios.
Address: 20 Ringsend Road, Dublin 4.
4. The Factory: Rehearsal and recording studio. The band always seems to do at least part of the work on its albums here, as well as some pre-tour rehearsals.
Address: 35A Barrow Street, Dublin 4.
5. STS Studios: Another studio that U2 usually uses at some point to work on any given album. As of January, 1999, STS was closed.
Address: 2 Cecilia Street, just off Dame Street in Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Near the Project Arts Centre.
6. The Project Arts Centre: This is where Paul McGuinness saw U2 perform for the first time, back in 1978. It's a small, multidisciplinary arts center with performances and exhibitions that lean toward the experimental.
Address: 39 Essex Street East, Dublin 2. It is in the middle of Temple Bar.
7. The Point Depot Theatre: Once a Victorian railroad terminal, it's now Ireland's top live music theatre, seating 7,500. U2 recorded some of the studio portions of Rattle & Hum here, and the makeshift recording facility is prominent featured in the movie during "Desire." After becoming a concert hall, U2 played their now-famous Christmas 1989, New Year's 1990 shows here.
Address: East Link Bridge, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1. North bank of the river, downstream from the city center. DART to Connolly Station or bus 53A.
8. Slane Castle: Owned by Lord Henry Mount Charles, U2 used this castle for the first-half of the studio sessions which led to The Unforgettable Fire album. The band also performed an unprecedented two summer concerts there in 2001. A fire caused severe damage to the interior of the castle on November 20, 1991 -- the day after Achtung Baby was released worldwide.
Situated in the Boyne valley overlooking the River Boyne just a few miles upstream from the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne, Slane Castle in its existing form was reconstructed under the direction of William Burton Conyngham, together with his nephew the first Marquess Conyngham. The reconstruction dates back to 1785 and is principally the work of James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston. Francis Johnston, one of Ireland's most distinguished architects, is responsible for the dramatic gothic gates on the Mill Hill.
The Conynghams are originally a noble Scottish family, and first settled in Ireland in 1611 in County Donegal. There has been an active association between the Conynghams and the Slane Estate dating back over 300 years, ever since the property was purchased by the family following the Williamite Confiscations in 1701. The present head of the Conyngham family is the seventh Marquess Conyngham. Slane Castle is currently occupied by his eldest son, the Earl of Mount Charles.
In 1991, a disastrous fire in the Castle caused extensive damage to the building and completely gutted the Eastern section facing the River Boyne. With the completion of the 10-year restoration program in 2001, Slane Castle has once again opened its doors.
The resident of Slane Castle, and heir to the title Marquess Conyngham, Henry Mountcharles (who had changed his name from Henry Coyningham to Henry Mountcharles because of name recognition and his migh media profile, ran a credible campaign for a difficult seat in Louth on behalf of Fine Gael in the 1992 Irish general election. Though on the basis of his support in his first electoral outing the party believed that he could win a Dáil seat on a later attempt, he declined to remain active in politics and instead devoted his time to raising funds to rebuild the fire-damaged castle.
Each August the grounds of Slane castle are used to host an annual rock concert. The natural amphitheatre has a 100,000-seat capacity and has in the past hosted sell-out concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Robbie Williams, U2, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bryan Adams, and the Foo Fighters amongst others.
Address: Slane, about 45 minutes north of Dublin city. Take the N2 north.
9. Moydrum Castle: This is the castle
which is seen on the front cover of The Unforgettable Fire album.
It's a haunted ruin. The castle is on private land, and there is barbed
wire fencing around the perimeter. The land is a working pedigree
farm, so be careful and mind your own business. Moydrum Castle info
10. East Link Bridge/Loughs on Grand Canal Docks: The East Link Bridge is featured in the first "Pride" video, directed by Donald Cammell. The Loughs on the Grand Canal Docks are where the cover picture of October was shot.
The East-Link is a toll bridge in Dublin, Ireland, on the River Liffey, operated by NTR plc. It was built and opened to vehicular traffic in 1984. The city centre is west of the bridge, which links routes on the eastern side of Dublin city. The Dublin port tunnel will terminate near the Eastlink, in the Docklands on the north bank of the Liffey. Most of Dublin's docklands are east of the bridge, but it is raised on average three times per day to allow river traffic to pass. Currently 22,000 vehicles per day cross the East-Link bridge.
11. SFX Centre: This is where interiors of the first "Pride" video were filmed. It's now used for live shows, exhibitions, discos, etc.The SFX CITY THEATRE is situated in Sherrard Street, near to Mountjoy Square and Dorset Street and in the heart of Dublin’s historic inner city.
An area rich in historical associations,it was for many years the heart of working class Dublin.Sean O’Casey was born in Dorset Street, and Brendan Behan was born just down the road and both writers drew extensively on the district and its vibrant past in such plays as Juno and the Paycock and The Hostage. More recently, the quarter has become associated with the richly varied cultures of the “new communities”,many of whom have settled here.
There has been a Theatre/Community Centre on the site since the middle of the 19th Century. The SFX (St Francis Xavier Hall) existed originally to help combat poverty and social abuse in the northern inner city (then one of the most deprived in Europe) and, in the last century became identified with a wide range of socially driven works.
In the 1950s,it became the home of the RTE Symphony Orchestra(Shostakovitch conducted here),while the 60s,70s and 80s saw the SFX hosting concerts and gigs from some of the greatest bands and names in rock.
building has been a theatre,studio and rehearsal space since 1999 and remains
unique in Dublin for its ambience, flexibility and versatility.
Address: 23 Upper Sherrard Street, Dublin 1.
12. Kilmainham Gaol (Jail): This is where U2 filmed the video for "A Celebration." The jail was built in 1789, closed in 1924, and restored in the 1960s. In its time, this jail housed many of those involved in the fight for Irish independence. It was used for the filming of the movie In The Name Of The Father, and tours are offered year-round. Go here for more than the U2 experience.
Kilmainham gaol has played an important part in Irish history, as many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the jail. The jail has also been used as a set for several films.
When it was first built in 1796 it was called the "New Gaol" to distinguish it from the old jail it was intended to replace - a noisome dungeon, just a few hundred metres from the present site. Over the 140 years it served as a prison it held in its cells many of the most famous people involved in the campaign for Irish independence. The leaders of the Easter Rising, 1916 were held and executed here. The last prisoner held in the jail was Eamon de Valera. It was abandoned as a jail in 1924 by the government of the new Irish Free State. Following lengthy restoration it now houses a museum on the history of Irish nationalism and offers guided tours of the building.
Children were sometimes arrested for petty theft. Some of the prisioners were deported to Australia. The youngest to be a seven year-old boy.
Films that have been filmed at the jail
Among its many famous prisoners were:-
- Henry Joy McCracken, 1796
- Robert Emmet, 1803
- Anne Devlin, 1803
- Michael Dwyer, 1803
- William Smith O'Brien, 1848
- Thomas Francis Meagher, 1848
- Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, 1867
- Charles Stewart Parnell, 1881
- Michael Davitt
- Padraig Pearse, 1916
- James Connolly, 1916
- Countess Markievicz, 1916
- Eamon de Valera, 1916
- Michael Collins, 1916
- Joeseph Mary Plunkett, 1916
Address: Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8.
13. Bono's House: The only reason to go here, other than trying to see yer man in the flesh, is to gawk at his gates. They're a tourist attraction in their own right, with artwork, poetry, tributes to his mum and writings from the ancient Greeks. This is the only reason I include it here. Need proof? Here's a portion of what the gates say. DISCLAIMER: This is the man's home. If you go, be quiet and respectful, don't deface anything, don't hang around longer than you have to and don't trespass! Remember, there's a small security camera to your right as you gawk and you're on your own if you overstep the bounds.
14. Edge's House: If you find Bono's house, you might as well take a gander at the home of his neighborly guitarist. During my visit in June, 1996, there was a plainly visible John Mellencamp influence. DISCLAIMER: see above.
15. 10 Cedarwood Road house: Where Bono and his family lived when he was growing up. Please be courteous, and do not disturb the current residents.
Address: 10 Cedarwood Road, of course. North side of town. From O'Connell Street Bridge, drive north past the GPO and hospital. Turn right onto Dorset Street lower, then left onto North Circular Road. Make a right turn at Prospect Road, and then a left onto Finglas Road. Turn right onto Mellowes/Seamus Ennis Road, and a left onto Jamestown Road. Then a right onto Sycamore Road, and a left onto Cedarwood Road.
16. 60 Rosemount Avenue: Larry Mullen's boyhood home. This is where those who answered that bulletin board note had their first meeting. Where it all began. Again, be courteous and do not disturb the current residents.
Address: 60 Rosemount Avenue, where else? Northside Dublin. From Mt. Temple (see #17 below), go north on Malahide Road. At the roundabout, go right onto Brookwood Avenue, then make a left onto Brookwood Gr. Rosemount will be the first right turn after that.
17. Mount Temple Comprehensive School: Where Larry put up that now-famous note asking for band members. All four band members went to secondary school here (with varying degrees of success). The school is a private property, so you really have no business walking or driving down the driveway.
Address: Malahide Road. North side of town. From the Point Depot (see #7 above), go north on East Wall Road. Go past Fairview Park, and turn right on Annesley Br. Turn left onto Malahide Road, and the school is a half-kilometre up the road on your right, just past Copeland.
18. The Ballymun Flats: A large housing project less than a mile from Bono's childhood home. It's what Bono was referring to in "Running To Stand Still" -- "I see seven towers/But I only see one way out." Ballymun is a very run-down suburb of Dublin, and not what you would call a good part of town. Be careful, and only go during the day, preferably in a taxicab. Trust us. In March, 1997, the Irish government announced plans to tear down the Ballymun Flats and replace them with more than 2,500 residential homes.
Address: Ballymun is in the extreme northern edge of town, near the airport, Dublin 9.
19. Bonavox hearing aid store: Provided the inspiration for the teenage Paul Hewson's new name. Storefront was renovated in 1999 with a new sign that is pictured below.
Address: Earl Street North, just off O'Connell Street. Easy to find.
20. Principle Management Offices: Headquarters. If you've got time to kill, hang out -- you might spot one of the band, or Paul McGuinness, or any one of several other recognizable folks. If you're courageous enough to go in, look for Bono's artwork on the walls.
Address: Dublin, in plain view of the Point Depot. Look it up in the White Pages if you're desperate.
21. The Clarence Hotel and The Kitchen: The hotel isowned by Bono, Edge, and a business partner of theirs. The Clarence is a place they used to hang around when they were just beginning, and they've since bought it. This is where the band taped the BBC Top of the Pops version of "Beautiful Day" in September, 2000. The Kitchen nightclub was in the hotel's basement, but closed in May, 2002. The Octagon, the hotel's newest bar, opened in 1996. Dress nice, but don't look like you're "trying." Very nice, very modern.
Address: 6/8 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2. In the artsy, trendy Temple Bar area. It's near the Ha' Penny bridge, facing the River Liffey.
22. Tosca: A now-closed Italian restaurant which was run by Bono's brother Norman. Tosca closed in August, 2000, as Norman announced plans to sell it while he focuses on his successful "Nude" cafe. The Tosca location is now a cafe called Cafe Twenty-Four.
Address: 20 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2, near Trinity College. Next to the site formerly occupied by Mr. Pussy's Cafe Deluxe. From O'Connell St. Bridge, walk south on Westmoreland St., then onto College Street, and finally turn right onto Suffolk Street.
23. Nude: Norman Hewson's 1999 addition to the luncheon opportunities in Dublin, this small café is located immediately adjacent to his Tosca restaurant in the site of what used to be Mr. Pussy's Cafe De Luxe (see #29 below). Food is very good, crowds are very big.
Address: see above
24. Dockers Pub: A pub where band members are/were often seen. Look for the gold U2 discs hanging on the wall.
Address: Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 4. Just around the corner from Windmill Lane Studios.
25. POD: The latest in dance music in a former winery. This is where Bono gave the "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" single its first public airing.
Address: 35 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, south of St. Stephen's Green.
26. The Blue Light: Site of one of the darker moments in U2 history. Watering hole outside which Adam Clayton was busted for drug possession in August, 1989, and coughed up 25,000 pounds to a Dublin rape crisis centre as an act of redemption.
Address: Kitternan, Co. Dublin, tucked away in the mountains.
27. Dandelion Market: One of the places where U2 played live a lot during the early days. It is now the location of the St. Stephen's Green Shopping Complex, which bears no resemblance to the old car-park-turned-concert-stage U2 made famous in its early days. Look for the "Rock n Stroll" plaque commemorating the Dandelion Market at the TGI Friday's restaurant.
Address: Located at St. Stephen's Green (top of Grafton St.), Dublin 2.
28. The Baggot Inn: Another of the places the band played a lot in the early days. It closed down temporarily in the mid-90s, then was purchased by a consortium including Jack Charlton. It's now called Big Jack's Baggot Inn.
UPDATE: September, 2002 - a reader tells us the Baggot is closed again!
Address: 143 Lower Baggot St., just east of St. Stephen's Green.
29. Mr. Pussy's Cafe De Luxe: This was a cabaret/cafe owned by Bono, Gavin Friday, and director Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot), and located next to Tosca, Norman Hewson's old Italian restaurant (see #22 above). Mr. Pussy is a drag queen who was the host. It had lounge-lizard atmosphere and music. This spot is now an eaterie called "Nude" - see #23 above.
Address: Was located on Suffolk Street
30. Cyberia: One of Dublin's cyber cafes, this one stands out in a crowd because it's owned by Sebastian Clayton, Adam's brother.
Address: Temple Bar Lane South, Dublin 2, in the heart of Temple Bar.
31. Hot Press Irish Music Hall of Fame: Opened in 1999, this facility was a tribute to Ireland's contributions to rock and roll over the years. The building was sold in 2001 and is now a nightclub called Spirit, "a club with a spiritual ethos encapsulating Mind, Body and Soul (the names of the 3 areas in the building)." The man behind Spirit is Robbie Wootton, the owner of U2's rehearsal space at The Factory.
Address: 57 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1.
U2 are an Irish rock band featuring Bono (Paul David Hewson) on vocals, guitar and harmonica, The Edge (David Howell Evans) on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, and Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums.
Founded in 1976, U2 have maintained a high level of popularity since the late 1980s. The band has sold approximately 50.5 million albums in the U.S. according to the RIAA, and over 120 million worldwide, had six #1 albums in the US and nine #1 albums in the UK and is one of the most successful groups of all time. Since the release of their album The Joshua Tree they have been frequently referred to as the biggest rock band in the world by fans and critics alike. The band has won 22 Grammy awards, second only to Stevie Wonder among popular music artists.
The band is also very politically active in human rights causes, such as the Make Poverty History campaign as well as Live Aid, Live 8, and the campaign spearheaded by Bono, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa).
The band was formed in Dublin on Saturday, September 25, 1976. Fourteen-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a notice on his secondary school bulletin board (Mount Temple Comprehensive School) seeking musicians for a new band. The response that followed that note resulted in seven boys attending the initial practice in Larry's kitchen. Known for about a day as "The Larry Mullen Band," the group featured Mullen on drums, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, Paul Hewson (Bono) on vocals, Dave Evans (The Edge) on guitar, his brother Dik Evans on guitar, and Mullen's friends Ivan McCormick and Peter Martin . Soon after, the group settled on the name Feedback. Martin only came to the first practice, and McCormick was out of the core group within a few weeks, being dismissed by Adam Clayton with the excuse that he was too young to play at the bars in which U2 would be booked.
After 18 months of rehearsals, Feedback changed their name to The Hype. The band performed with their new name at a talent show in Limerick, Ireland on 17 March 1978. One of the judges for the show happened to be CBS Records' Jackie Hayden; they won the contest, earning a £500 prize. Hayden was impressed enough with the band that he gave them studio time to record their first demo.
The Dublin punk rock guru Steve Averill (better known as Steve Rapid of The Radiators From Space) suggested that "The Hype stinks, at least as a name." Someone offered, "What about U2? It's the name of a spyplane and a submarine, and it's got an endearing inclusivity about it." 
Some suggest the meaning of the name "U2" is based on their philosophy. They believe that the audience is part of their music and the concert and that "you too" (U2) are participating in the music. However, in an interview with Larry King, Bono is quoted as saying "I don't actually like the name U2," and "I honestly never thought of it as 'you too'." Others feel that U2 derived its name from the Irish Unemployment form (in the same way as UB40 in the UK).
Dik Evans announced his departure in March 1978. The Hype performed a farewell show for Dik at the Community Centre in Howth. Dik walked offstage halfway through the set and later joined the Virgin Prunes, a fellow Dublin band. In May, Paul McGuinness became U2's manager.
Now a four-piece with a local fan base in place, U2 released their first single in September of 1979, U2-3. It topped the Irish charts. In December of that year, U2 travelled to London for its first shows outside of Ireland, but failed to get much attention from foreign audiences and critics. U2 made their first appearance on US television on Tomorrow hosted by Tom Snyder. It aired on June 4, 1981. They performed "I Will Follow" and "Twilight" and engaged in an interview.
Island Records signed the band in March of 1980. U2 released Boy the following October. It was met with critical praise and is considered by some as one of the better debuts in rock history. Despite Bono’s unfocused, seemingly improvised lyrics, Boy has a definite theme – an examination of adolescence touching on fear over sex, identity confusion, death and uncontrollable mood swings. The final track on the album, "Shadows and Tall Trees," gives a nod to William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, which was an inspiration for the album. Lord of the Flies also inspired the famous album art which featured photographs of a dishevelled boy (Peter Rowen, younger brother of Bono's friend Guggi), naked from the waist up, sometimes wearing war paint or an army helmet. The Rowen pictures were eventually replaced by distorted headshots of the band to avoid controversy. (The same boy, three years older, would be employed for artwork on U2's War album. He can also be seen as a would-be band member in the Alan Parker feature "The Committments"). The album gave the band their first hit single, "I Will Follow," which remains a fan favorite to this day. Boy's release was followed by U2's first tour beyond Ireland and the United Kingdom. Despite criticisms of their live shows as predictable and Bono using "too much echo" , these early live shows nevertheless helped demonstrate U2's potential, as critics noted that Bono was a very "charismatic" and "passionate" showman.
The band's second album, October, was released in 1981 . Fans and music critics quickly made note of the band's spiritual lyrics. Bono, The Edge and Larry were committed Christians and made little effort to hide that fact. The three band members joined a religious group in Dublin called "Shalom," which led all three to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle. After nearly throwing in the towel on U2, they decided it was possible to reconcile the two by continuing to make music without compromising their personal beliefs. While the Bible has remained a major source of inspiration for Bono’s lyric writing, October is U2’s only overt Christian rock album and is generally held to be among their least successful work. (In recent years a book of sermons based on U2 songs has been published: "Get Up Off Your Knees" ed. Whiteley & Maynard, ISBN 1561012238)
October was the start of U2's vision of the music video as an integral part of the bands creative work, as it was released during a time that MTV was first becoming as popular as radio. The video for "Gloria" was directed by Meiert Avis and shot in the Canal Basin in Dublin.
In 1983, U2 returned with apparently a newfound sense of direction and the release of their third album, War. The album included the song "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which dealt with the troubles in Northern Ireland using religious imagery and what many considered as forceful and almost rebellious lyrics. The ability to use a range of powerful images, taking a song initially about sectarian anger, and turn it into a call for Christians to unite and claim victory over death and evil, proved to many that band was capable of deep and meaningful songwriting. When some Irish-Americans tried to misrepresent the song as a rallying call for the Provisional IRA Bono responded with what became one of his most recognizable phrases, notably the performance on the live EP Under a Blood Red Sky - "this song is not a rebel song. This song is Sunday Bloody Sunday." Furthermore, as captured in the concert film U2: Rattle and Hum, during the performance of the song on November 8, 1987, the day after the IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, in which 11 people were killed during a Remembrance Day service, Bono denounced the violence in Ireland and the Irish expatriates who supported it. Unlike the style and emotions conveyed by other musicians in the early 1980's, many saw in Bono anger and passion that were palpable, especially as demonstrated by his blunt assertion "Fuck the 'revolution'!"
The album's first single, "New Year's Day", was U2's first international hit single, reaching the #10 position on the UK charts and nearly cracking the Top 50 on the US charts. MTV put the "New Year's Day" video, directed by Meiert Avis, into heavy rotation, which immediately launched U2 to the mass American audience. For the first time, the band began performing to sold-out concerts in mainland Europe and the U.S. on their subsequent War Tour. U2 recorded the Under a Blood Red Sky EP on this tour and a live video was also released, both of which received radio and MTV play and helped expand the band's audience.
The band began their fourth studio album with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. The The Unforgettable Fire (named after a series of paintings made by survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) followed in 1984. The videos for "Unforgettable Fire" directed by Meiert Avis, Barry Devlin and Donald Cammel, were in constant heavy rotation on MTV. The album featured the tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., "Pride (In the Name of Love)." "Pride" became the first single from the album, cracking the U.K. Top 5 and the US Top 40.
The album represented a turning point in the band's career, as many critics and fans alike found Bono's lyrics to be more subtle and poetic, while the Edge's guitar became more effects-driven and his sound more delicate, and the rhythm section sounding looser and funkier. However, the material, although less overtly so, remained political. Songs include "Indian Summer Sky," a social commentary on the prison-like atmosphere of city living in a world of natural forces, and "MLK," another song honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. The album's release coincided with a photo exhibit at the Chicago Peace Museum featuring images of the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings; Bono would later contribute a poem entitled "Dreams in a Box" to the museum's archives.
One of the most popular tracks, and arguably the centrepiece of the album, was six-minute long "Bad". Although never released as a single, "Bad" provided one of the album's defining moments: a cathartic exploration on the theme of heroin dependency - a problem particularly prevalent in Dublin during the mid-1980s. During the Unforgettable Fire Tour to support the new album, Bono took to wrapping his microphone cable around his arm in imitation of a junkie looking for a vein.
The associated Unforgettable Fire tour had U2 extensively playing indoor arenas for the first time. Aside from the tour, U2 participated in the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium for Ethiopian famine relief in July 1985, which was seen by more than a billion people worldwide. U2 were not expected to be one of the main draws for the event, but the band provided the show with one of its most memorable moments, a relentless 13-minute version of "Bad" in which Bono hurdled off the stage to dance with a fan. The other band members were upset with Bono for spending the time they had planned for playing "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and Bono was convinced he had squandered a chance for promoting the band to a greater audience. Larry Mullen Jr. admitted that the rest of the band had considered leaving the stage as he was performing. After the concert, the other band members demanded he leave U2; Bono instead took a few weeks off to think about his role in the band, and was welcomed back with open arms. Somewhat ironically, the Live Aid version of "Bad" has become something of a legend in rock circles, and was an indication of the personal connection that Bono could make with audiences.
In 1985 Rolling Stone magazine called U2 the "Band of the 80s," saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters."
U2 went on to a headlining spot on 1986's A Conspiracy of Hope Tour for Amnesty International. This 6-show tour across the U.S. performed to sold-out arenas and stadiums, and helped Amnesty International triple its membership in the process.
In 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree. The album debuted at #1 in the U.K., quickly reached #1 in the U.S., and would go on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and second Grammy for the video "Where the Streets Have no Name". The singles "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" also quickly went to #1 in the U.S., with "Where the Streets Have No Name" being another heavily played track. U2 was the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time magazine (following The Beatles, The Band, and The Who), who declared that U2 was "Rock's Hottest Ticket". The Joshua Tree Tour sold out stadiums around the world, the first time the band had consistently played venues of that size.
The Joshua Tree videos: "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name", directed by Meiert Avis, and "I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For", directed by Barry Devlin, saturated MTV and thus made the band much more visible to both casual music listeners and fans.
Bono and the rest of U2 were still able to seize the moment. At Wembley Stadium in London, in 1987, U2 performed a version of The Beatles' "Help!" - dedicating it to those in the audience who were dreading another five years of the recently re-elected Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The band also covered The Beatles' "Helter Skelter", declaring "This song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealin' it back."
The band began to film and record various shows from the tour for the documentary and double album Rattle and Hum in 1988 and released it on video in 1989. That album became a tribute to American music, which the band recorded in part at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis (along with The Point Depot, Dublin, Ireland), performed with Bob Dylan and B.B. King, and sang about blues great Billie Holiday. Amongst the songs performed live that made it to the album were Helter Skelter (see above), and a cover version of Bob Dylan's famous song All Along The Watchtower.
Despite a positive reception from fans, Rattle and Hum received mixed-to-negative reviews from both film and music critics. U2 went on the Lovetown Tour (with special guest B.B. King), which visited Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, but avoided the US and most of Europe. Perhaps feeling that U2 was somewhat stagnating, Bono announced during a December 30, 1989 concert in Dublin that it was time "to go away and dream it all up again."
After taking some time off, the band met in East Berlin in autumn of 1990 to begin work on their next studio album, again with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. The session did not go well, but following the inspirational completion of the hit song 'One,' (voted in April 2006 as having Britain's number one lyric-- "One life, with each other, sisters, brothers"-- by a VH1 poll of 13,000 people) the band eventually emerged from subseqent recording studio sessions with renewed energy and a new album. In November of 1991, U2 released the heavily experimental and distorted Achtung Baby. The album was enthusiastically received by fans and critics alike, with Rolling Stone magazine declaring that U2 had "proven that the same penchant for epic musical and verbal gestures that leads many artists to self-parody can, in more inspired hands, fuel the unforgettable fire that defines great rock & roll." What was often said at the time was that Achtung Baby introduced a legion of new U2 fans, people who had heard the group for many years but never really liked them or bought their records before. The group's fanbase was therefore expanded significantly by this release. New fans were perhaps drawn in by the hit song "Mysterious Ways", with its closer resemblance both lyrically and sonically to conventional pop music of the time.
In early 1992, U2 began its first American tour in more than four years. The multimedia event known as the Zoo TV Tour purposely confused audiences with hundreds of video screens, upside-down flying Trabant cars, mock transmission towers, satellite TV links, subliminal text messages, and over-the-top stage characters such as "The Fly", "Mirror-ball Man" and "(Mister) MacPhisto". The tour was, among other things, U2's attempt at mocking the excesses of rock and roll by appearing to embrace greed and decadence - at times, even away from the stage. Some missed the point of the tour and thought that U2 had "lost it," and that Bono had become an egomaniac. European leg link-ups to war-torn Sarajevo and live prank phone calls to President Bush caused further controversy. Following the same theme, U2 went back into the studio to record their next release during a break in the Zoo TV Tour. The album was intended as an additional EP to Achtung Baby, but soon Zooropa expanded into a full-fledged LP and was released in July of 1993. Zooropa was an even greater departure from the style of their earlier recordings, incorporating techno style and other electronic effects. The Zooropa album was, like Achtung Baby before it, popular among people who had never been fans of U2, further expanding the fanbase and increasing the band's ability to remain popular into the 1990's and beyond. In particular, the tracks "Zooropa", "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" and "The Wanderer", featuring special guest country and rock musician Johnny Cash on lead vocal, helped U2 win the admiration of new fans.
After some time off—and a few side projects (the Batman Forever and Mission: Impossible soundtracks)—the band returned in 1995 with Brian Eno under the moniker "Passengers", and released an experimental album called Original Soundtracks No. 1. The album, including a collaboration with Luciano Pavarotti, "Miss Sarajevo", was largely unnoticed in the industry, and received little attention from the critics and public alike after the band lost the battle with the record company to release it with the U2 name.
In early 1996, U2 began work on their next record. The recording of this album was fraught with difficulty. U2 were once again attempting to change their musical direction, this time the band were experimenting with heavy post production of their music, utilizing tape loops, programming and sampling. This gave the album a techno/disco feel. Pop was released in March of 1997. The album debuted at #1 in 28 countries, and earned U2 mainly positive reviews. Rolling Stone even went so far as claiming U2 had "defied the odds and made some of the greatest music of their lives." However, American audiences and fans felt that the music industry had exceeded the limits of tolerance in promoting Pop, and the album was seen as something of a disappointment by many die-hard U2 fans.
One of the main problems the band had when recording the album was the time constraint placed upon them by their impending tour. The band has admitted they were hurried into completing the album and say that a number of tracks on the album were not finished as well as they would have liked. It is not surprising that the tracks from Pop picked for U2's second greatest hits album – "Gone", "Discothèque", and "Staring at the Sun" – were all remixed for inclusion on that album.
With the Popmart Tour, U2, once again continued the Zoo TV theme of decadence. The show hit the road in April, 1997; the set included a 100-foot tall golden yellow arch, a large 150 foot long video screen, and a 40 foot tall mirrorball lemon. It was to be U2's most colorful show to date. One of the stops was in Sarajevo, where they were the first major group to perform after the war there. The Popmart Tour was the second-highest grossing tour of 1997 (behind the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon Tour) with revenues of just under $80 million, but it cost more than $100 million to produce. On September 20th 1997, they set the new European Record for attendance at a concert for a single performer. 150,000 Italians went to the "Campovolo" in Reggio Emilia to see their show. This record has been defeated by Italian rocker Luciano Ligabue who on September 10th 2005, in the same venue (Campovolo) played in front of 180,000 persons.
Both the Popmart Tour and the Zoo TV Tour were intended to send a sarcastic message to all those accusing U2 of commercialism. The shows were also intended to be shining a mirror back onto the world, taking all the subtle advertising and messages we are exposed to every day and blowing them up so they were visible to the world, best shown in the famous picture of Bono (dressed as The Fly) with the message "WATCH MORE TV" written next to it.
The band played a brief concert in Belfast in May of 1998, three days before the public voted in favour of the Northern Ireland Peace Accord. Also that year, U2 performed on an Irish TV fundraiser for victims of the Omagh, Northern Ireland bombing which killed 28 and injured hundreds earlier in the year. In late 1998, U2 released its first compilation, The Best of 1980-1990.
U2 went back into the studio in early 1999, yet again with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. After the extravagance of the Popmart Tour, critics and music industry insiders felt that U2 was trying to return to the days of The Joshua Tree in order to keep its audience of loyal fans. During these sessions, the band collaborated with author Salman Rushdie, who wrote the lyrics to a song called "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," taken from his book of the same name. The song eventually appeared on the soundtrack to The Million Dollar Hotel, a movie based on a story written by Bono, and directed by Wim Wenders.
All That You Can't Leave Behind, released in late October of 2000, was received widely as U2's return to grace, and was considered by many to be U2's "third masterpiece," following The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. It debuted at No. 1 in 22 countries and spawned a world-wide hit single, "Beautiful Day," which also earned three Grammy Awards. U2 followed that release with a major tour in the spring of 2001, the Elevation Tour.
The Elevation Tour saw the band performing in a scaled-down setting, returning to arenas after nearly a decade of stadium productions, with a heart-shaped stage and ramp permitting greater proximity to the audience. The terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 nearly led U2 to cancel the last third of the tour but they decided to continue nonetheless; the new album's "Walk On" gained added resonance. The tour ended up as the top concert draw in North America in 2001. Following such an accomplished album, and a hugely successful tour, many fans felt that U2 had been successful in "re-applying for the job of the biggest band in the world," an application Bono had made a year earlier.
After the Elevation Tour ended in late 2001, the culmination of U2's critical resurrection came when the band performed a well-received three-song set in New Orleans, Louisiana during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI. The highlight was a performance of "Where the Streets Have No Name" in which the names of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks were projected onto a pair of backdrops, scrolling up towards the sky. At the end of the song the backdrops were released, descending to the ground in a gentle revisiting of the Twin Towers' fall. Bono then opened his jacket, which he had worn throughout the Elevation Tour, to reveal the American flag printed as the lining, an image that was widely reproduced in the media. All That You Can't Leave Behind went on to receive four more Grammy Awards.
Bono continued his campaigns for debt and HIV/AIDS relief throughout the summer of 2002. In late 2002, U2 released part two of its greatest hits collection, The Best of 1990-2000.
Dance artists LMC sampled "With or Without You" for their track "Take Me To The Clouds Above" which also features lyrics from "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston. All four members of U2 had to clear the track, which was released under the title of LMC vs. U2. Adam Clayton said of the track, "It's a good beat and you can dance to it. I especially like the bassline." The single went to the top of the UK singles charts in February 2004 and also went top 5 in Ireland and top ten in Australia.
A rough-cut of the band's follow-up album was stolen in Nice, France, in July 2004  Shortly thereafter, Bono stated that, should the album appear on P2P networks, it would be released immediately via iTunes and be in stores within a month. No such pre-release of the album occurred, however, and the first single from the album, titled "Vertigo", was released for airplay on September 24, 2004. The song received extensive airplay in the first week after its release and became an international hit. The album, titled How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, was released on November 22 in much of the world and November 23 in the United States. The album debuted at #1 in 32 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the band's native Ireland. It sold 840,000 units in the United States in its first week. This was a record for the band, nearly doubling the first-week sales of All That You Can't Leave Behind in the US.
U2 promoted How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb heavily. They made appearances on TV shows like CD:UK and Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in Britain and Saturday Night Live in America. The band also made a video for the second North American single, "All Because Of You", while riding on a flatbed truck through the streets of Manhattan on November 22. They then played a free concert at a park beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, attracting an estimated 5,000 fans who had learned of the show on various U2 fan websites.
In another first, the band entered an extensive cross-promotion campaign with Apple Computer: the band allowed the single "Vertigo" to be used in a widely aired television commercial for the iPod music player -- though the band did not receive any royalties for the use of the song. Due to the commercial, the song was well known even before the release of the album. This move shocked some fans who remember U2's previous staunch refusal to get involved in any product promotion. The band also licensed a special version of the iPod with a U2 design (black faceplate with red click wheel, echoing the color scheme for the new album) and facsimiles of the bandmembers' signatures etched on the back plate. The partnership also led Apple's iTunes Music Store to feature a collection known as The Complete U2. The digital box set features over 400 songs, which includes each U2 album in its entirety, as well as most singles and B-sides ever released, rare live sets, and previously unreleased songs from recording sessions of All That You Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Owners of the U2 Edition iPod were able to purchase this collection at a discount. This limited edition iPod was discontinued due to poor sales and Apple's choice of hardware changes.
In Europe, the next single released from the album - "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" - once again featured a Bono/Pavarotti performance on the B-side. The performance is a Jacknife Lee remix of "Ave Maria" sung by Bono with Luciano Pavarotti. It rose to #1 on the UK singles chart, marking the first time a U2 album spawned two #1 singles in the UK. U2 previously accomplished this in the US with their first two singles from The Joshua Tree, With or Without You, and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. The third single from the album, "City of Blinding Lights", entered the UK singles chart at #2 on June 12.
In April 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed U2 in its 50 "greatest rock & roll artists of all time". On March 14, 2005, U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. They were inducted by their good friend Bruce Springsteen.
The first leg of the Vertigo Tour began in the United States, with the band performing 26 sold-out shows. The first leg started off in March in San Diego, California and finished in May in Boston, Massachusetts. The band performed well-known hits, songs from the current album, and early rarities such as Into The Heart and An Cat Dubh. The second leg was a European stadium tour, which started on June 10 in Brussels and finished on August 14 in Lisbon. They played in a number of venues including Paris, Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Rome, Milan (where they recorded the show for a DVD release in the coming years) and Oslo. The band then returned to the United States and finished up on December 19 in Portland, Oregon. Their featured stop in Chicago, Illinois was filmed over two nights in May, 2005 for the live DVD U2 - Vertigo 2005 // Live From Chicago. The DVD marks their third live film since their 2001 Elevation Tour. U2 have smashed Irish box office records with ticket sales for their 2005 Croke Park, Dublin concerts, after more than 240,000 tickets were sold in record time. In The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Austria the tickets were sold within 60 minutes. They performed alongside Coldplay, Paul McCartney, The Who and Pink Floyd, among others, in the Live 8 concert in London on July 2nd, 2005.
On December 20, Mary J. Blige released her ninth studio album "The Breakthrough". U2 was featured on the album as part of Blige's remake of U2's "One". The song entered the UK chart at #2 on the 9th of April 2006.
On February 8, 2006, U2 won five Grammy Awards, including the prestigious 'Album of the Year' for "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb". They also won 'Song of the Year' for "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own", 'Best Rock Album' for "Atomic Bomb," 'Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group' for "Sometimes..." and 'Best Rock Song' for "City of Blinding Lights." "If you think this is going to go to our head, it's too late," said Bono as he accepted the award for 'Song of the Year.'
During February and March the band performed in Latin America. The concerts took place in Monterrey, Mexico (1 show) ; Mexico City, Mexico (two shows) ; São Paulo, Brazil (two shows, one with a 'live' TV Broadcast on Globo TV) ; Santiago, Chile (one show, with Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet presenting Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience award to the Band in a press conference behind the stage) ; Buenos Aires, Argentina (two shows, where an Imax 3D Movie was filmed with multiple cameras including a "spyder cam" similar to that used in sporting events to move over the field during play without interfering).
On March 13 in a televised interview with Andrew Denton on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Enough Rope Bono hinted that November is the most likely time for a U2 to return to Australia, and that they will be better than ever.
In mid-2005, a source (Anti-Music) reported that U2 have plans for a new album and are keen to record more. According to Bono there are 24 songs that came out of the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album sessions, of which the band took 11 for their subsequent record. The Vertigo tour kicked off in San Diego on 28 March and has gone well into 2006 with several tour dates rescheduled for late in the year, so no plans to go back to the studio to record are known of currently. However this has not stopped some fans from speculating that a new album may be forthcoming in 2007, possibly even in late 2006. In the January 2006 edition of Q magazine, Bono said that the band were in fact working on a new album for 2006. Releasing a new album so soon after one as major as How to Dismantle... would not be without precedent for U2; in 1993, during a break in the massive Zoo TV Tour, U2 recorded what was to be Zooropa. The album was released only a year and half after their groundbreaking album Achtung Baby.
There has been some speculation that U2 may re-record their 1997 album, Pop for a tenth anniversary release. Considering recent comments from the members of the band, some see this as more likely than completing the How to Dismantle... sessions. Bono has stated that the biggest mistake the band has ever made was letting their manager book the PopMart tour, as it meant they had to rush to finish the Pop album. This implies that they consider Pop at least a partial artistic failure, despite over 7 million in sales, and that U2 may choose to refine that effort.
As far as the individual members of U2, the Edge has admitted that he writes new songs after every show, but only 1 in 10 of these songs on the road will go anywhere, and has expressed a longing to get back into a recording studio.
Songs rumoured to appear on the next album are: 
- "North Star" - a song from the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sessions that includes a guest organ appearance from Michael W. Smith. Smith has described in an interview that it is a tribute to the late Johnny Cash.
- "Lead Me In The Way I Should Go" - a contender for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb first mentioned in the February 2003 issue of Grammy Magazine.
- "You Can't Give Away Your Heart" - a contender for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb that was first mentioned in SPIN magazine.
- "Mercy" - one of the last songs to get cut from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. It was described in Blender magazine as "a six and a half-minute outpouring of U2 at its most uninhibitedly U2-ish"
U2 have worked with other collaborators; the individual members have also worked in smaller groups together and with outsiders. Bono recorded the song "In a Lifetime" with the Irish band Clannad. Edge and Meiert Avis directed the atmospheric video for "in A Lifetime" in Donegal featuring Bono and Marie Brennan in a duet. Together with The Edge, Bono wrote the song "GoldenEye" for the James Bond movie of the same name, which was performed by Tina Turner. The pair also wrote the song "She's A Mystery To Me" for Roy Orbison, which was released on his album Mystery Girl, while Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. did a rework of the title track of the movie Mission: Impossible in 1996.
While working under the pseudonym "Passengers," U2 gave producer Brian Eno creative control and cranked out the album Original Soundtracks No. 1. The work is a compilation of film music for nonexistent movies, and a bit of a step back from the usual style of the band, thus the pseudonym "Passengers". Two of the tracks, "Miss Sarajevo" (which got world airplay after its live duet between Bono and Pavarotti was included in the album Pavarotti And Friends) and "Your Blue Room" (a fan favorite, including a vocal track by the band's bassist, Adam Clayton), even made it to their best-of album for 1990-2000.
U2 also worked together with other artists, including the U.S. author William S. Burroughs, who had a guest appearance in their video of "Last Night on Earth" shortly before he died. His poem "A Thanksgiving Prayer" was used as video footage during the band's Zoo TV Tour.
Many musicians have been influenced by the work of U2. There are several cover versions of U2 songs by Pet Shop Boys, Pearl Jam, Aslan, and The Chimes and musicians such as Cassandra Wilson, Mica Paris and Johnny Cash. U2 have enjoyed reciprocal influential relationships with artists including R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and Anton Corbijn, as well as exerting influences on others, including the Austrian painter Kave Atefie who dedicated two successful art series ("Like a promise in the year of election" and "Outside it's America") to the work of the Irish band.
Since 1982, Anton Corbijn has been photographing U2. He "invented" U2’s public image and is still shaping it. Since their first encounter in February 1982 in New Orleans to their April 2004 Lisbon shooting for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", their longstanding friendship, mutual inspiration, and shared experience of rock history is part of the history of photography.
On several occasions, U2 have collaborated with fellow Irish band The Corrs, with very specific collaborations between the frontman of U2, Bono, and frontwoman of The Corrs, Andrea Corr. The Corr's VH1 Live in Dublin album (2002) featured Bono providing lead vocals with Corrs frontwoman Andrea Corr on "When the Stars Go Blue" (a cover of a song by Ryan Adams) and "Summer Wine", and when Bono and Gavin Friday wrote the song "Time Enough for Tears" for the motion picture In America, Andrea was once again brought in to provide the vocals. Their most recent collaboration was for the title song of the 2005 film "Don't Come Knocking", penned by Bono. Bono also performed with The Corrs at the 2005 Live 8 Edinburgh concert to reprise the duet "When the Stars Go Blue."
U2 are almost as well known for its humanitarian work as it is for its music. Bono is perhaps the best-known advocate for finding a cure for AIDS and helping the impoverished in Africa. Some charity organisations supported by U2 include:
- Amnesty International
- African Well Fund
- Support for Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi
- DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa)
- Chernobyl Children's Project
- Jubilee Debt Campaign
- The ONE Campaign
- Live 8
- Make Poverty History