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U2 was formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1976 by drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., under the name "Feedback." It was originally a Beatles and Rolling Stones tribute band that consisted of Mullen, Paul Hewson (Bono), Dave Evans (The Edge), and his older brother Dik Evans. The elder Evans left the band about a half year later when its name had changed to The Hype, which pared the group down to the quartet it is today. Shortly thereafter they changed name one final time to U2. After winning a talent show in Limerick in 1978, the band had enough money to record a demo tape, and by the end of that year they had a manager, Paul McGuiness.
The band released an EP called Three in the fall of 1979. It was a hit in Ireland and, along with a the 1980 Irish chart-topping single "Another Day," won the band a contract with Island Records. Although they had found success at home, it would be some time before U2 would gain as much attention abroad. The process began with the release of their first studio album, Boy, and particularly the single "I Will Follow." According to fan site U2 Gigs, this song has remained a staple of U2 performances, even 30 years after it was released. Throughout the early and mid-1980s, U2 gained a following in the U.K. October, released in 1981, produced hit singles "Fire" and "Gloria," and War was the band's first album to top the chart in any country, doing so in the U.K. All three of the album's singles, "New Year's Day," "Two Hearts Beat as One," and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," were hits in various countries.
U2 finally broke into the mainstream abroad with the 1987 release of The Joshua Tree. The album has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and has been certified diamond in the U.S., and 6x platinum in the UK. The band had another hit with 1991's Achtung Baby, which has sold over 8 million copies just in the U.S. During the '90s, the band was forced to reinvent itself to meet with the changing musical tastes of music listeners. To do so, they incorporated different sounds of different genres, such as dance and industrial, into the album. The band even innovated new ways to entertain fans, adding multimedia and other visual influences during the Zoo TV Tour.
The quartet was able to return to their roots with All That You Can't Leave Behind, including the smash hit "Beautiful Day." In 2004, U2 released How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, including the chart-topper "Vertigo," which was highly publicized in a series of iPod commercials for Apple, Inc. In February 2009, the band released its latest album No Line on the Horizon, which topped the charts and has been certified platinum in multiple countries. Over the course of its formation, U2 has performed or recorded with B.B. King, Paul McCartney, Green Day, and Johnny Cash, along with many others.