U2 are a rock band from Dublin, Ireland, featuring Bono (Paul David Hewson) on vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica; The Edge (David Howell Evans) on lead guitar, keyboards and vocals; Adam Clayton on bass guitar; and Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums, percussion and occasional vocals.
Formed in 1976, U2 has consistently remained among the most popular acts in the world since the mid 1980s. The band has sold approximately 50.5 million albums in the U.S., according to the RIAA, and upwards of 170 million worldwide, has had six #1 albums in the US and nine #1 albums in the UK and are one of the most successful bands of the rock era. The band has won 22 Grammy awards, more than any other recording artist.
The band is also politically active in human rights causes, such as the Make Poverty History campaign as well as Live Aid, Live 8, and Bono's DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa) campaign.
U2 have worked with other collaborators; the individual members have also worked in smaller groups together and with outsiders. Bono recorded the song "In a Lifetime" with the Irish band Clannad, with a video co-directed by The Edge. Together with Edge, Bono wrote the song "GoldenEye" for the James Bond movie of the same name, which was performed by Tina Turner. The pair also wrote the song "She's A Mystery To Me" for Roy Orbison, which was released on his album Mystery Girl, while Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. did a rework of the title track of the movie Mission: Impossible in 1996.
Aside from musicians, U2 have worked together with a number of authors, including the U.S. author William S. Burroughs, who had a guest appearance in their video of "Last Night on Earth" shortly before he died. His poem "A Thanksgiving Prayer" was used as video footage during the band's Zoo TV Tour. Other collaborators included William Gibson and Allen Ginsberg. In early 2000, with the release of the film The Million Dollar Hotel, the band recorded two songs for its soundtrack, including "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", co-written by Salman Rushdie and motivated by his book of the same name.
Many musicians have also been influenced by the work of U2. There are several cover versions of U2 songs by bands such as Pet Shop Boys, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins and The Chimes, and musicians such as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Cocker, and Johnny Cash. U2 have enjoyed reciprocal influential relationships with artists including R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and Anton Corbijn, as well as exerting influences on others.
U2 is almost as well known for its humanitarian work as it is for its music. Bono is one if the best-known advocates for the fight against poverty and AIDS in Africa. Some charity organisations supported by U2 include: