Like many big rock bands, U2 didn’t come out fully formed and ready for stardom. The band’s very first meeting, September 25, 1976, was relaxed at best – and wouldn’t have happened at all without the exhortation of drummer Larry Mullen Jr.’s father.
As the story goes, the elder Mullen saw how passionate his 14-year-old son was about music – Mullen Jr. had taken drums lessons and was eager to form a rock band – and supported that dream. .
“We didn’t always agree, but through it all he was always watching my back,” Mullen Jr. said in the book. U2 by U2. “He was like, ‘OK, the kid wants to play the drums. How can I help him survive and deal with this, because he’s never going to be a brain surgeon.'”
Mullen Sr.’s solution was simple: place a “musicians wanted” ad at the school, the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, Ireland. “I think the wording sounded like something like, ‘The drummer is looking for musicians to form a band,'” Mullen Jr. recalls. “I just thought it was a little fun. It was never anything else. . No big ideas, no expectations. “
Still, the notice succeeded in attracting the right people. At Mullen Jr.’s infamous first kitchen reunion, U2’s future core members were in attendance: vocalist Paul Hewson (aka Bono), guitarist David Evans (The Edge) and bassist Adam Clayton. Edge’s older brother Dick Evans was also in attendance as a guitarist, as were Peter Martin – whose teenagers had borrowed the equipment – and guitarist Ivan McCormick.
The future members of U2 knew each other at least before they played music together. Edge had attended a previous school with Clayton, while Bono’s reputation preceded him: Edge recalls seeing the teenager during lunch break “trying to impress some girls” by playing Beatles songs.
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Whether he succeeded is lost in time, although this scene made an impression on the aspiring guitarist. “I couldn’t help but notice that I was a better player, and yet he was more popular,” said Edge in U2 by U2. “I mentally noted that maybe how you wore your guitar was as important as how you played it.”
This confidence and charm was displayed at the very first meeting of the group. “It was ‘The Larry Mullen Band’ for about ten minutes, so as not to hurt me,” admitted Mullen Jr. “It was also my kitchen. Then Bono walked in and that was the end. He missed all my chances to be in charge.
McCormick and Martin ended up leaving the group quite quickly; Edge’s brother is also missing from the photo. However, the remaining four cores chose the name Feedback and began to work on improving themselves.
The musicians draw on various influences. Although all four members agree on T. Rex and David Bowie, Edge loved Rory Gallagher, Bono preferred the Beach Boys and early rock ‘n’ roll, and Mullen Jr. loved the Eagles thanks to his sister.
According to U2gigs.com, the group’s first gig under the name Feedback was held later in 1976 at Mount Temple, in a talent competition at the end of a semester.
The young group performed a series of 10 minute covers including “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton, “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)” popularized by the Bay City Rollers and a mix of Beach Boys songs.
“I think the truth is they were the only songs we could play all along,” Edge confessed years later.
The paid work for Feedback did not come until April 1977, when they played another highly covered concert at St Fintan’s School in Dublin. However, by then the band was on the move and success followed sooner than anyone had dreamed of.
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U2 does not inspire weak reactions in people. There are passionate U2 fans, and passionate U2 enemies, and very few in between.