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Uncovering U2's origins

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK Published: May 14, 2012
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The Stranglers' preset equipment took up most of the stage, leaving U2 only one claustrophobic corner. Brocklebank recalled that fans, reflecting the punk crudities of the day, spat and tossed lit cigarettes at them throughout their set. Afterward, he said, Bono confronted The Stranglers in their dressing room about the shoddy treatment.

Barely a week later, Brocklebank took an iconic photo of U2 after another gig: the four boys posing backstage, two with fake guns in hand. Later that night, he took the first known photo of the band with their brand-new manager, McGuinness, over pints at Dublin's long-closed Granary Bar.

The band's humble beginnings take pride of place in that photo. Mullen, the drummer who founded the band by posting a recruitment ad on his high school's bulletin board, can be seen holding up U2's first award: First place in a talent competition in Limerick the previous St. Patrick's Day, grand prize 500 Irish pounds — sufficient finance for the band to cut its first demo tape.

Brocklebank also shot publicity photos in February 1979 before U2's first tour of Britain. A sequence of 12 images shows the band donning a range of poses — messing with fire extinguishers, pretending to be interviewed, climbing atop air vents — inside Trinity College Dublin.

Formed in 1976, the band first performed under the name Feedback, then The Hype, before settling on U2 in March 1978. Since 1980 the band has recorded 12 albums, sold more than 150 million records, won 22 Grammys and become one of the highest-grossing live acts in history.