Behind the band name: U2

Irish rock band U2 are one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll and were originally known for their post-punk appeal. The band’s sound has grown over the nearly 50 years they have existed, but their ability to produce meaningful anthems and ballads remains. The type that fills the stadiums but still touches the individual person.

With U2’s longevity in mind, the band couldn’t have had the same name all these years. And it is not. The band actually had two different names before they came to U2. What were the other band names? How did they choose the name U2? Let’s find out.

The third time is the charm

U2 is fronted by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Bono, and David “the Edge” Evans joins him on guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. Also in the band, Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums. Originally, U2 had two other members in the band, Dick Evans and Ivan McCormick, who left at the very beginning of the band.

The musicians formed the band in 1976 when they were teenagers at the same school in Dublin, Ireland. Larry Mullen had posted an announcement on their school bulletin board as a drummer wishing to form a rock band. Once the ad was answered and the band formed, they practiced in Mullen’s kitchen at Artane, where they had virtually no musical experience.

According to U2’s website, they chose the name “Feedback” because it was one of the few musical terms they knew. The group later switched to the name “The Hype”, but in an interview with the BBC they revealed that The Hype did not sound original.

In the same interview, Bono and Edge discussed the origins of the U2 name. They explained that a friend had prepared a list of names for them and that they had chosen U2 because they disliked it the least. Bono remarked that the name gave off “futuristic” images of “the spy plane” and “the submarine”. He went on to say that “it turned out to imply that kind of acquiescence” but surprisingly he still doesn’t like the name.

The success of U2

Four years later, the band signed with Island Records and released Boy in 1980. Their next album War (1983) would reach number one in the UK album chart. Songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” mark U2 with political and social dedications. Their 1987 album Joshua tree propelled them to international stardom as “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” went to number one in the US

The group has released 14 studio albums in total and won 22 Grammy Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. The group recently released a new single “Your Song Saved My Life” for the Sing 2 movie and went eight years without downloading an album to your phone.

Photo by Anton Corbijn/Chuffmedia

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