Sunday, September 25, 2016

40 Year Itch : The Birth of U2

It was all the drummer's idea. 14 year old Larry Mullen pinned a "Musicians Wanted" ad on the notice board at Dublin's Temple Mount School. It read "Drummer seeks musicians to form band".

'So on Saturday 25th September 1976, ' recalls Larry. 'This odd group of people convened in my kitchen in Artane. And that's where it started.'

The odd group included 16 year old Adam Clayton who bought his first acoustic guitar at thirteen and then convinced his parents to get him a bass.

Clayton wasn't  happy at school and found refuge in music.

 "We would listen to The Who, The Grateful Dead, Kris Kristofferson, Carole King, Neil Young, people that were around at that time, singer- songwriter things and some far-out stuff, Hawkwind, The Edgar Winter Group, Edgar Broughton. And then the prefects at school would listen to Rory Gallagher, The Beatles, The Stones, Eric Clapton, so we'd hear a bit of that, and some American performers like the Doobie Brothers. So I was getting pretty turned on to music and it always seemed to change my mood; it somehow made it bearable to be in that school situation. I remember reading that Clapton hadn't started playing guitar until he was fifteen or sixteen and I thought, 'Well, there's still time for me!'"

15 year old David "The Edge" Evans grew up sharing records with his brother

"Along with our Beatles LP's we got some by Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Yes, Rory Gallagher and Taste. I discovered Derek and the Dominos while staying with my older cousins in Blackpool. It is hard to explain the significance of music for all of the kids in our area. There was nothing else nearly as important in terms of establishing your identity. I would have huge arguments with my friends about who was the best band in the world, or what was the best record ever made. The TV music shows Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test were considered unmissable."

Evans heard about a wild kid called Paul Hewson at a neighboring school.

"He seemed to share our interest in high-explosives: there was some story involving a small fire, and some rivet-gun caps, taken from the building site that was to become our new school. So I heard about Bono a couple of years before I even met him."

16 year old Hewson was already a wild child when his mother died of a brain hemorrhage while attending the funeral of her own father. His musical influences?

 "Before I got to the Who, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and those kinds of things -- I really remember John Lennon's Imagine. I guess I'm twelve; that's one of my first albums. That really set fire to me. It was like he was whispering in your ear -- his ideas of what's possible. Different ways of seeing the world. When I was fourteen and lost my mother, I went back to Plastic Ono Band.

 "Bob Dylan at the same time. Listened to his acoustic albums. Then starting to think about playing those acoustic songs. My brother had a Beatles songbook -- so trying to teach myself guitar, and him sort of helping.

 "And that song -- which is actually such a genius song, now that I think about it, you're embarrassed the day after you learned it—'If I Had a Hammer.' That's a tattoo, that song."

The band briefly had a fifth member. Evans' brother Dick. They decided to call themselves "Feedback". They would play their first gig at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in October, a messy ten minute set beginning with a cover of Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way", followed by the Bay City Rollers "Bye Bye Baby",and ending with a Beach Boys medley. For an encore, they played the Rollers tune a second time.

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