On this day in 1961, David Evans, now known as "the Edge," was born in East London. A year later, his family moved to Dublin, Ireland, where he was raised loving to play the piano and guitar. In 1976, the seeds of U2 came together, under the name Feedback, after drummer Larry Mullen Jr. placed a note on a Mount Temple High School bulletin board recruiting rock musicians. Evans, his brother Dick, singer Paul Hewson (later known as Bono) and bassist Adam Clayton answered the ad and gathered in Mullen's kitchen. The band soon changed its name to the Hype and, after Dick Evans left to form the Virgin Prunes, changed it again to U2.
In 1978, U2 won a talent contest in Limerick, Ireland, that led to an audition with CBS Ireland, which eventually signed them. In 1979, U2 released the Ireland-only EP U2:3 (featuring "Out of Control"), which topped the national chart. The following year, U2 were signed by Island Records in the U.K. and released the single "11 O'Clock Tick Tock."
In October 1980, Island released "I Will Follow" in the U.K. and the U.S., preceding the band's first American dates in East Coast clubs. In November, they issued their debut album, Boy, which showcased the band's anthemic rock and the Edge's ringing guitar style. Though the band's presence on American radio increased in the ensuing years, it wasn't until 1983's War that U2 was recognized as a major musical force in the States.
That album's "New Year's Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" received heavy airplay on U.S. rock radio. The Unforgettable Fire (1984) yielded the signature tune "(Pride) In The Name of Love." These albums paved the way for the group's mega-hit The Joshua Tree (1987), which established it as the biggest rock band in the world.
In the next few years, U2's sell-out world tours, including the one documented on 1988's Rattle and Hum (a reference to the Edge's echoing guitars) cemented their reputation with critics and fans. On the Rattle and Hum live/studio album the Edge sang and wrote "Van Diemen's Land."
U2 returned in 1991 with Achtung Baby, their biggest critical favorite yet, and another smash hit album. Featuring the singles "The Fly" and "Mysterious Ways," Achtung built on U2's signature majestic sound by delving into electronica. Two years later, Zooropa (to which the Edge contributed the lyrics to "Numb") continued in this ambient vein, but sold far less than its predecessor. In 1997, the band released the much-hyped Pop, which was rumored to be a full electronica album, but actually contained some traditional U2 pop/rock in numbers such as "Staring At The Sun." The band's accompanying world tour, "Popmart," failed to achieve the success of its predecessors and the group played to less-than-capacity crowds at a number of stadiums.
Bono, who has said the Edge got his name because of his sharp mind, had this to say in 1993 about his guitarist's talents: "Edge's guitar solo in 'Love is Blindness' is a more eloquent prayer than anything I could write."
Earlier this year, the Edge and Bono attended a peace rally in Northern Ireland, during which the two performed a few songs, including their biggest hit from Achtung Baby, "One."
Other birthdays: John "Jay" David (Dr. Hook), 56; Ali Score (A Flock Of Seagulls), 42; Dennis Drew (10,000 Maniacs), 41; Chris Foreman (Madness), 40; Rikki Rockett (Poison), 37; and Joe Tex, 1933-1982.