Achtung, Grandpa! Ten Glorious, Strange, and Shameful Moments in U2's Very Long Career

According to the Emerald Isle's Central Statistics Office, the average Irish male can expect to prowl around Planet Earth for about 76 years, 9 months, and 18 days.

Do you know what that means? It means that U2, as a band, is totally middle aged. (Formed in 1976, the bombastic arena rock quartet turned 35 this year.) And as individuals, the situation is even bleaker.

Bono's already 51! Ditto Adam "Bass Boy" Clayton! Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. hits the big five-oh next Halloween! And the Edge isn't so edgy at 49!

Obviously, though, U2 ain't dead yet. And if we do a few rough calculations, it wouldn't be wacko to expect Bono and crew to crap out another couple of semi-conscious decades, six more mediocre albums, and an equal number of never-ending, galaxy-spanning, multimillion-dollar megatours.

So yes, it's too early for a post-mortem. But why not get started just for fun? Here are ten glorious, strange, and shameful moments in the very long career of U2.

Paul David Hewson (AKA Bono Vox) as a baby.
Paul David Hewson (AKA Bono Vox) as a baby.
Courtesy of the Hewson Family

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10. Becoming Bono

On May 10, 1960, a chubby little baby boy named Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin. His mother was an Anglican. His father was a Catholic. And later, as a teenager, little Paulie joined a surrealist street gang. Who joins a fucking surrealist street gang? Well, apparently, the same kind of arty dorks who give themselves cutesy Latin nicknames. Hence, Bono Vox (translation: Nice Voice), which he eventually shortened to just Bono.

Achtung, Grandpa! Ten Glorious, Strange, and Shameful Moments in U2's Very Long Career

9. A Band Is Born

These days, a band begins with a Facebook message. But three and a half decades ago, you had to handwrite a note, tack it to a corkboard, and wait a few days for somebody to respond via telephone or actual face-to-face conversation. That's how 14-year-old Larry Mullen Jr. put together the best-selling rock outfit in human history. They called themselves the Larry Mullen Band and then Feedback, the Hype, and finally U2.

8. "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

Following the lukewarm success of the band's debut, 1980's Boy, and a weird sophomore detour into pseudo-Christian rock 'n' roll on the next year's October, U2 finally got its shtick together with War. It was a big, ambitious, politicized pop rock album. It was a direct response to violent conflict in places like Northern Ireland and Poland. And it was a stiff middle finger to sucky New Wave fluff.

Bono rocking the grandma mullet.
Bono rocking the grandma mullet.
Photo by Helge Øverås via Wikimedia Commons

7. Bad Hair Decade

Undoubtedly, the 1980s was a pretty good decade for U2's musical output. But man, those were some shitty, shameful years for Bono's hair. He generally rocked a 'do known as the grandma mullet -- fuzzy on top, longish in back, ugly all over. Thankfully, though, as a new decade dawned, Bono started sporting the sleek, slicked-back look. Unfortunately, that was also the moment when he became fond of wearing cowboy hats, trading the bad hair '80s for the bad headwear '90s.

6. Rich and Bored

After totally killing it with 1987's The Joshua Tree, making a kazillion bucks, circumnavigating the globe, scoring the cover of Time, and basically cementing a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, U2 got bored with itself. So the band had an identity crisis, got deep into so-called alternative rock, and came up with 1991's Achtung Baby. Meanwhile, Bono became obsessed with a pair of oversized, wrap-around sunglasses and adopted a ridiculous alter ego named "The Fly." The result: Totally killing it, making a kazillion bucks, circumnavigating the globe, etc.



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