A: The Early Years: Three to Under a Blood Red Sky
- Who started U2 and when? How did they get those wacky nicknames?
- Where does the name U2 come from?
- Which band members were / are in U2?
- Who's the boy on the cover of Boy and War?
- Wait, I don't see a boy on the Boy cover!!
- Why did U2 get in trouble with Stephen Sondheim?
Who started U2 and when? How
did they get those wacky nicknames?
Larry Mullen, Jr., was
born on October 31, 1961, in Dublin. He was two years behind
in high school but both noticed each other. It was Larry who
posted an ad on a bulletin board at school looking for musicians
a band. Paul Hewson (aka Bono) was born on the 10th of May, 1960,
in Dublin. He was a very outgoing person in high school who
to Larry's note saying that he could play guitar and sing. He
really couldn't do either. Adam Clayton was born in Oxfordshire,
England, on March 13, 1960, and moved to Dublin after his father
got a job flying for Aer Lingus. Although he was not a very
student, he was always very polite to everyone. He was the only
bassist to respond to Larry's note. Dave Evans (aka The Edge)
was born on August 8, 1961, in East London. His family moved
to Dublin a year later. He was often known as a loner early
school. He took piano and guitar lessons and often played with
his brother, Dick. Both showed up to "U2's" first little gathering
at Larry's house
(60 Rosemount Avenue in Dublin). They set up in the Mullens'
and played the Rolling Stones "Brown Sugar" and "Satisfaction."
At this point, the entire group of hopefuls for the band included
Larry, Dave and Dick Evans, Adam Clayton, Paul Hewson,
and Ivan McCormick .
Bono, which is a shortened
version of Bono Vox, his original nickname, got the name through
a group of friends who were known as the Lypton Village. The
name, which means "good voice" in Latin, was taken from the
name of a hearing aid shop in Dublin.
Some reports say Edge
was named by Bono because Dave was always on the fringe of things.
Other stories suggest Bono gave him the name because of the sharp
lines and angles of his face when he was a teenager.
Lypton Village they thought it strange that you should go by a
name given to you by your parents, when that name might not really
suit you. The nicknames were often associated with a facial thing
and it would then also apply to the person's character. So The
Edge had this prominent jaw line & was always on the edge
of things: like an observer. Bono's first Village name was: Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbangbang.
(!) Paul McGuinness became known as "The Goose." [SL,
CB, GB, M2]
2. Where does the name
"U2" come from?
In the band's very early
beginnings, circa 1978, Adam Clayton asked Steve Averill (formerly
known as Steve Rapid of the band Radiators From Space) to help
the band come up with a good name. Averill was interviewed by
Hot Press magazine in 2001 and gave this answer when asked
about how he helped U2 choose the band's name:
"When I first met them
they didn't really know what they wanted to do, what type of
band they really wanted to be. But they had qualified for the
final of that band competition in Limerick and they needed to
decide on a name. Adam liked names like XTC, which were short
and crisp and could mean a lot or mean very little. So I made
a list of ten and I put U2 on the bottom. I thought it was strong
graphically and it had a variety of connotations without meaning
something specific. It was short and stood out from the band
names common at the time. After we discussed the list we decided
to go for U2 for all those reasons."
There have also been many stories told about how the band's name
is taken from the U-2 spy plane, and those stories gained favor
with the connection of the famous Francis Gary Powers U-2 incident
which occurred on May 1, 1960, and the fact that Bono was born
just nine days later. These stories seem to be a stretch at best,
and Averill's answer above makes no mention of the spy plane connection.
Averill, it should be noted, didn't stop helping U2 when he helped
choose the name. He was
also asked to manage U2 but declined, opting instead to handle
U2's visual aspects. Averill and his partners at Four 5 One (formerly
Works Associates / ABA) in Dublin also design U2 album covers,
t-shirts, backstage passes, tour programmes, and even the symbols
on Edge's hats during the Zoo TV Tour. [IM, JC, GM, JP,
3. Which band members were
/ are in U2?
This is very boring.
U2 lack the emotion of big bands like Pink Floyd and the Beatles
when it comes to rupture rumors, and gossip. They have always
had the same members, and it's not bound to change in the near
future. The four guys seem to be good friends. [SL]
The band were advised
to dump Larry, in the early days (by a record company). [CB]
4. Who's the boy on the cover
of Boy and War?
His name is Peter Rowen.
He was a kid who lived across the street in front of Bono's
in Dublin. He's the brother of Derek "Guggi" Rowen, and Strongman
- both of which were in the Virgin Prunes. Peter later became
skate-board champion of Ireland, works in a skate-board shop
has also had various acting parts, notably in The Commitments
and The Snapper. In The Commitments, Peter
plays the kid who wants to audition for Jimmy's band, and is carrying
a skateboard in his arms as he yells to Jimmy from the street
below. More recently, Peter was one of the pallbearers at the
funeral of Bono's father, Bob, who died August 21, 2001. (He joined
Bono, Edge, Larry, Guggi, and Bono's brother Norman as pallbearers.)
[SL, Ge, CB, M2, PC]
5. Wait!! I
don't see a boy on the Boy cover!!
That's probably because
you have the U.S. release of the album, which was censored / edited
by Warner Records for fear of paedophilia claims.
The cover was changed in the States because of "a vague worry
at the label that there might be a homosexual impression left
from the boy's waist-up nakedness." (quote from former Principle
Mgmt. director Ellen Darst) [SL, RA, Ge]
6. Why did U2 get in trouble
with Stephen Sondheim?
When U2 first released
Under a Blood Red Sky, the original version of "The Electric
Co." that was on the album included a 27-second snippet of
Bono singing Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns." The band failed
to get permission and pay the appropriate licensing and royalty
fees to include Sondheim's tune on the album. When Sondheim objected,
U2 agreed to pay a $50,000 (US) penalty for the unauthorized use
and to press all future releases with a new version that did not
include the 27-seconds of "Send In The Clowns."
So the original version
of the album has the full "Electric. Co." running 5:18 and the
edited version of the album has the song ending at 4:51. Your
best bet for finding the original release with the unedited version
of "Electric Co." is to track down a vinyl copy of the album.
The original pressing will say 5:18, while future pressings on
vinyl were corrected to say 4:51.
CDs are a different story. Some have the full song, others have
the edited version. There's some thought that European-pressed
CDs will have the full song. What's strange is that you can't
rely on the listed running time to tell which version is on a
CD. Based on conversations
with other fans, it appears that if you had a group of 10 Under
a Blood Red Sky CDs, chances are 6-7 of them would have different
times printed on the CD cover, sleeve notes, and/or the CD itself.
I've yet to hear anyone offer a good explanation for why the record
company people never figured out exactly how long each track was.