Happy 47 Years U2!

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-09-24)

Forty-seven years ago on September 25, 1976, a group of school kids got together in a kitchen in a house on the Northside of Dublin. Songs played are not confirmed, but the group did play that day. Mostly songs they were all familiar with and personal favourites. Of course that group would go on to be The Hype, later Feedback, and finally U2.

Happiest of anniversary wishes to our band! Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Our Show Archive starts with that September 25, 1976 date, and includes quotes from the band and others about the day. That entry is below.

The first meeting of the group that would become U2 took place at 60 Rosemount Avenue, in the kitchen of Larry Mullen’s childhood home. It was a Saturday afternoon in Dublin, on September 25, 1976, the date confirmed by an entry in Ivan McCormick’s diary. A few weeks earlier at the urging of his father, Larry Mullen had posted a note to the school bulletin board in the mall at Mount Temple Comprehensive school. The note had been simple, “Drummer seeks musicians to form band” and he held auditions for “The Larry Mullen Band” at his home in Artane.

In attendance at the first meeting were Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton, David “The Edge” Evans, and Paul “Bono” Hewson who would become U2. Also in attendance was Edge’s brother Dick, who would stay with the band for years before leaving to join The Virgin Prunes. Ivan McCormick was the youngest to show up that day. Also mentioned in some accounts is Peter Martin, who McCormick does not recall being at that initial meeting, if he was, it was for a short time, and Peter would only work with the band this one day, and is not mentioned after this point. It was, however, Martin, that mentioned the note to Ivan, “I never saw the note myself. Our mutual friend, Peter Martin, mentioned it to me and told me I had to go to the audition, he reckoned I’d be a shoe in because I had a decent instrument.” The Edge had also not seen the note, and had been told about it by one of the music teachers at Mount Temple.

Bono was driven to the rehearsal by his good friend Reggie Manuel on the back of his Yamaha bike. It was Reggie who talked Bono into turning up for the rehearsal at all. (Manuel was known as “Reggie the Dog” or “Bad Dog” in Lypton Village, and would later oversee the Kitchen Recordings label for U2). In Berlin on September 25, 2015, Bono shared, “I saw that notice and I wanted to be in a band but I didn’t think I could be but a friend of mine, Reggie Manuel, the Cocker Spaniel, talked me into it and took me to Larry Mullen’s house on his motorbike.” During the show Bono also thanked Larry for “making that great invitation to us, thirty nine years ago”.

The Edge and his brother Dick got to the rehearsal by bus. They weren’t the only ones to arrive on that bus. Adam Clayton remembers also arriving by bus, and indeed remembers seeing the Evans brothers when he got on the bus. He joined them on the way to rehearsal. McCormick was dropped off at the house by his father, along with his guitar.

According to Eamon Dunphy’s The Unforgettable Fire the group played some Rolling Stones covers at this first gathering, mentioning “Brown Sugar” and “Satisfaction.” (The book has numerous errors, including identifying Ivan’s brother Neil as the person attending this first meeting, so the accuracy of this information is not known.)

Ivan remembered the rehearsal for Hot Press in 2016, “We didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. I remember Larry’s red drum kit took up most of the space in the kitchen. They were bandying around names like Led Zeppelin and that, but these bands hadn’t yet clocked yet on my register. There were some good songs that we – or at least some of us – knew. We might even have tried ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin’. And there was an Eagles song.” In 2021 he shared with U2Songs.com, “My guitar was better than any other there so that helped my status, a sunburst Strat copy made by a Japanese company called Teisco I’m not entirely sure what we played, probably ‘Johnny B Goode’, maybe ‘Jumping Jack Flash’, T-Rex possibly, ‘Smoke on the Water’ is a likely contender. We were in Larry’s kitchen, it was very cramped, I think his drums were red…the scene in Killing Bono does it justice apart from the bit about playing Dire Straits who didn’t even exist in 1976.” In U2 by U2 The Edge mentions, “Everybody liked T-Rex and Bowie but I might have been playing some Rory Gallagher badly and that didn’t seem to impress Larry. Somebody else might have been playing the Eagles because that was very big at the time.”

The boys in the kitchen weren’t the only students appearing on Rosemount Avenue that weekend. A group of girls also took note of Larry’s note and showed up that day. In his memoir, Surrender Bono shares, “Soon I noticed another noise, an exterior one, the somewhat high-pitched sound of girls giggling and shouting outside the window. Larry already had a fan club, and over the next hour he would offer us a lesson in the mystique of the rock star. He turned the garden hose on them.” (In the telling of the tale, Bono claims that Martin was at the rehearsal briefly, loaning Bono his white Telecaster for the day, “he was happy enough to lend it to me, but was probably not so happy about my fingers bleeding all over it.”) Adam Clayton in U2 by U2 also remembers, “I remember Larry’s mum and dad and sister Cecilia were there, and his drum kit was set up in the kitchen. I didn’t know whether it was Larry or his parents who were auditioning us.”

Larry shares in U2 by U2, “It was the Larry Mullen Band for ten minutes, so as to not hurt my feelings. It was also my kitchen. Then Bono came in and that was the end of that. He blew any chance I had of being in charge. We set up in the kitchen, the fireplace had been removed during renovations. This gave us some extra space. We folded the kitchen table down, piled the chairs on top and pushed it against the wall; I could just about fit the drums into a corner. Everybody else squeezed in around me, about seven people. There was very little playing, just an awful lot of tuning up, I think we may have attempted to play one song that nobody knew. It was basically a jam that went all afternoon.”

For the full show details, including set list, please check the following show listing:

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