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U2 performing in August 2017, from left to right: Larry Mullen Jr.; The Edge; Bono; Adam Clayton

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), the Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's musical style has evolved throughout their career, yet has maintained an anthemic quality built on Bono's expressive vocals and the Edge's effects-based guitar textures. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal and sociopolitical themes. Popular for their live performances, the group have staged several ambitious and elaborate tours over their career.

The band formed as teenagers while attending Mount Temple Comprehensive School, when they had limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album, Boy (1980). Subsequent work such as their first UK number-one album, War (1983), and the singles "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" helped establish U2's reputation as a politically and socially conscious group. By the mid-1980s, they had become renowned globally for their live act, highlighted by their performance at Live Aid in 1985. The group's fifth album, The Joshua Tree (1987), made them international superstars and was their greatest critical and commercial success. Topping music charts around the world, it produced their only number-one singles in the US, "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".

Selected article

U2's experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo, was their primary inspiration for the music of "Slug".
"Slug" is a song by Passengers, a group composed of rock band U2 and producer Brian Eno. It is the second track on the group's only release, the 1995 album Original Soundtracks 1. The track was given the working title "Seibu" and was almost left off the album before it was rediscovered later during the recording sessions. Though Eno made the majority of creative decisions during the recording sessions, "Slug" was one of the few tracks that the members from U2 tried to craft themselves.

Lyrically, it is a portrait of a "desolate soul"[1] during a time of celebration. As Passengers were writing songs for fictional soundtracks, they tried to create a visual suggestion from the music that was more important than the story within the lyrics. In "Slug", the instrumentation is intended to represent the lights of a city being turned on at dusk. The group primarily drew inspiration for the song from U2's experiences in Tokyo at the conclusion of the Zoo TV Tour. "Slug" was praised as one of the best songs on the album by critics from various publications, and was compared to tracks from U2's previous album, Zooropa.

Selected image

The U2 360° Tour stage surrounded by the crowd
Credit: Rich Niewiroski Jr.
Panoramic photography from the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California on 25 October 2009.

Did you know...

  • ... that Bono used to be known as "Steinvic von Huyseman", "Huyseman", "Houseman", "Bon Murray", "Bono Vox of O'Connell Street", and "Bono Vox"?
  • ... that as a choreographer and dancer, Morleigh Steinberg presented her arms as noodles, but to much of the public she is known for being next to The Edge?


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Selected biography

Clayton playing in Charlottesville, VA on 1 October 2009
Adam Charles Clayton (born 13 March 1960) is a musician best known as the bassist of the Irish rock band U2. He has resided in County Dublin since the time his family moved to Malahide when he was five years old in 1965. Clayton is well known for his bass playing on songs such as "New Year's Day", "Bullet the Blue Sky", "With or Without You", "Mysterious Ways", "Get On Your Boots", and "Magnificent". His work on No Line on the Horizon has been cited as his best bass playing. He has worked on several solo projects throughout his career, such as his work with fellow band member Larry Mullen Jr. on the theme of 1996's Mission: Impossible. Clayton, as a part of U2, has won 22 Grammy awards.

Adam Clayton's most recognizable basslines include "New Year's Day", which evolved out of an attempt to play Visage's song "Fade to Grey", and "With or Without You". His style includes Motown and reggae influences, and cites artists such as Paul Simonon of The Clash as influences on his musical style. When Clayton first joined the fledgling U2, he did not have formal training in the bass, and, in the band's early years, he generally played simple parts in 4/4 time. In 1995, after the Zoo TV Tour and Zooropa album, Clayton headed to New York with bandmate Larry Mullen Jr. to fill the gap and receive formal training in the bass.


  • "Influences, primarily Joy Division, Invisible Girls. A great example of how you can write a song and not know what you're writing about. A song called “Tomorrow” is a detailed account of my mother's funeral. But I had no idea when I was writing it." —Bono, on October (1981), "Bono on the Records" by Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone (3 November 2005)
  • "The wild beauty, cultural richness, spiritual vacancy and ferocious violence of America are explored to compelling effect in virtually every aspect of The Joshua Tree—in the title and the cover art, the blues and country borrowings evident in the music ... Indeed, Bono says that “dismantling the mythology of America” is an important part of The Joshua Tree's artistic objective." —Anthony DeCurtis, summarizing The Joshua Tree's examination of America, Rolling Stone (1994)
  • "People say, “Why don't you do interviews? What do you think about this? What do you think about that?” My job in the band is to play drums, to get up on stage and hold the band together. That's what I do. At the end of the day that's all that's important. Everything else is irrelevant." —Larry Mullen, Jr., U2 at the End of the World by Bill Flanagan (1995)
  • "You put on the leather pants and the pants start telling you what to do." —Bono


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