U2 are in every sense of the word a truly super group. They are a great recording group and a great stadium group. Their names have instant recognition throughout the world, sometimes for their political stances but unquestionably through their music, for this is a rock group that has been plying its trade from early days in their native Dublin since 1976.
The members of U2 are Bono who plays guitar and does the lead vocals, the Edge who backs up the vocals and plays guitar and keyboards, Adam Clayton on bass guitar and Larry Mullen on drums and percussion. From humble beginnings at school they went on not only to make records but to break records. They have to date sold more than 170 million records globally including thirteen studio albums. No band has won more Grammy awards than U2 – they have 22 – and they rank 22 in Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest Artists of all Time. Another record was made by their 2009-2011 360° Tour for the number of people who attended the various gigs and the highest grossing proceeds.
So what are the characteristics that makes U2 such a special star in the giddy constellation that is rock music? One reason is their sheer longevity – they have been around a long time and kept the same personnel which is rare for rock bands where personal differences and the tensions brought about by constant touring so often leads to arguments, dissensions and walk-outs.
U2 are also a band that has a presence and an awareness of the world around them. Many people who attended Live Aid felt that U2 were one of the few bands who really had a sense of the occasion and made a connection with the diverse crowd, where other groups and artists just didn’t seem to be with what was going on. This interface with the audience was manifested twenty years later when Bono thanked the crowd in the arena for coming and for all the money that they had spent over the years.
Bono and the entire group have been very involved in worldwide humanitarian campaigns. Bono employs hundreds of people plus many many more as volunteers to work for issues such as the improvement of the environment, the eradication of poverty and the reduction and the eventual elimination of AIDS. This is a long term involvement of his which harks back to the campaign at the start of the century for affluent nations to write off third world debt.
All this is a long way from the hedonistic life styles of so many people in the music and entertainment business and it comes from a band who have made an indelible mark on the history of modern popular music.
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