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Old 01-21-2006, 01:22 AM   #1
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U2 touring US for the first time

i was just watching a u2 concert from 1981, laughing at how young the lads look, comparing their ages and band success to my age (24) and lack of my band's success (so far).

so my question is this....how the heck did they get to tour another country (USA) at such an early age and with only one album under their belts? did they put up alot of money (i dont think they had alot back then), did they record company have INCREDIBLE faith in them to break Stateside? or was the game just different back then and a unproven european band touring America wasn't that odd?

i can't even imagine being able to tour across my OWN country at this age, let alone travel across the ocean to play!
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Old 01-21-2006, 02:37 AM   #2
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A promoter (don't remember his name off the top of my head) said that U2 would be huge in America. This promoter had a history of being right with these things. He was right.
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Old 01-21-2006, 02:37 AM   #3
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frank barcelona, maybe?
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Old 01-21-2006, 05:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by marik
frank barcelona, maybe?
could be. i believe they definitely did some work with frank barcelona in the very early US years.
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Old 01-21-2006, 05:29 PM   #5
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i still cant believe that with just a promotor's whim, that much money was invested in them
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Old 01-21-2006, 05:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by marik
frank barcelona, maybe?
Yes I believe so. I think Paul McGuinness pointed them in the right direction and hooked them up with that guy.

Another point is, and I don't mean to be cynical, they realised that the Christian aspect to their music would be a selling point in the US.
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Old 01-21-2006, 05:30 PM   #7
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i still cant believe that with just a promotor's whim, that much money was invested in them
They met a number of people at the right time and pursued good contacts.
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Old 01-21-2006, 05:47 PM   #8
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Also, keep in mind that quite a few of their early US dates weren't necessarily in extraordinary venues. Playing a few clubs for a band that has a radio-friendly song (i.e., I Will Follow) and an album on a label that pretty much has U2 and Bob Marley..isn't terrrribly inconceivable...

Marik, for a decent look at the contacts they made & the work they put into getting off the ground, "The Unforgettable Fire" by Eamon Dunphy is a decent read. What he basically points out is that--like financeguy said--they happened to make the right connections. They also worked like dogs. Adam graduated high school early and did nothing but promote the band. Bono, once he left school, became the key contact-maker & did it with a bit more fervor. Quite a few people he'd met have commented on how it was hard to turn down this kid with such fire in his eyes! They also put effort into learning about how things worked-----they wanted to find out how American radio worked, how things were done here, etc., and sucked up all the info like sponges.

I also marvel at their age in those early years. Seeing as how I'm 25 and these guys were mostly 25 when they played to a worldwide audience at LiveAid (!!!!!!!!), that's freaking insane. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here picking away at chords and a few notes on my guitar. I think it's just that these guys decided that the band was going to be it--that this was what their lives were going to be about (hence why they foiled Edge's college plans.. )...instead of a band that they want to go far, but they're not quite ready to truly give all 100% of their lives to it.

They wanted to be the biggest band in the world from the very start!
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Old 01-21-2006, 08:04 PM   #9
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I remember a 5 page spread in the NME around about 1982 when the NME followed U2 all over the States. U2 initially cracked America because of the Irish thing and because they spent at least 5 months per year in the States from 81 - 83.

Echo & the Bunnymen stayed in the UK.
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Old 01-21-2006, 11:19 PM   #10
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do any european bands get that kind of finanical committment from record companies now adays? ( that young and unproven)

do north american bands ge that kind of support to go over to Europe? i know the killers, based on the back on a single album toured Europe extensivly, but they made have already been a popular household name by then, i'm not sure
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Old 01-24-2006, 12:54 AM   #11
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You're exactly right, Utoo, about them not playing in the best of venues. When U2 came through Dallas back in October, the newspaper had a special pullout section that recapped all of their previous concerts in Big D. The first one, they said, back in 1981 was at some sports club or something and they were second-billed behind a wet t-shirt contest. Oh, and also, the concert was sponsored by radio station Q102, so it only cost $1.02 to get in, and like 10 people showed up. So I guess the sign outside said, "Wet T-shirt Contest and U2," although I guess that isn't quite as bad as, "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap." I just hope U2 got a bigger dressing room than the boobies.

On a serious note, I think with the band there were some mysterious forces at work (not to sound to existential or whatever), because they did seem to unfailingly hook up with the right people at the right time, and I do think Frank Barsalona is the person the other posters are talking about. The history I know of the band from reading the books and such, it just seems like DESTINY that they were going to be the biggest band in the world. But , that is only if you believe in the idea of destiny.
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Old 01-24-2006, 01:05 AM   #12
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Re: U2 touring US for the first time

Quote:
Originally posted by marik

so my question is this....how the heck did they get to tour another country (USA) at such an early age and with only one album under their belts? did they put up alot of money (i dont think they had alot back then), did they record company have INCREDIBLE faith in them to break Stateside? or was the game just different back then and a unproven european band touring America wasn't that odd?
Many good points made in this thread, and I'd also like to recommend the Dunphy book for insight as to how the band went from meeting in Larry's kitchen, to breaking in the US.

Aside from the dedication and determination of the band, Paul McGuiness also had a unique long-term plan for them, one that was virtually unheard of at the time. Had he simply followed the methods that other bands/management did at the time, chances are they would have had a few Irish/UK hits, and then floundered. McGuiness is a brilliant man who deserves a lot of credit.

As well, you have to recognize that the music business was radically different in 1980 than it is now. Now, acts are expected to produce returns on investments immediately. Back then, artists were given the opportunity to develop, and investors were much more patient in expecting a return, than they are now. As Bono said in his HOF speech, if a current band made an "October" as a follow-up to a "Boy," they wouldn't have had the chance for a third album.
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Old 01-24-2006, 03:32 AM   #13
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Yeah very interesting stuff

And you also have to remember that many of their early European gigs were extremely low key as well.

There's a good boot of a gig at a bar in Germany where the crowd barely clap. I've heard a better audience for karaoke.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:22 PM   #14
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I have seen video of a performance in some kind of club/eatery. Nobody was standing, they were all sitting at tables. Its very strange to see.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by kennerado
I have seen video of a performance in some kind of club/eatery. Nobody was standing, they were all sitting at tables. Its very strange to see.
I think that might be from a Swedish TV show.
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:00 PM   #16
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Originally posted by kennerado
I have seen video of a performance in some kind of club/eatery. Nobody was standing, they were all sitting at tables. Its very strange to see.
did they play 11 o clock tick tock or I will follow by chance?
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by marik
do any european bands get that kind of finanical committment from record companies now adays? ( that young and unproven)

do north american bands ge that kind of support to go over to Europe? i know the killers, based on the back on a single album toured Europe extensivly, but they made have already been a popular household name by then, i'm not sure
It does not take a major financial committment to come to the United States and tour a few clubs in a few east coast cities. Of course, the nationwide tour they did in the Spring of 1981 would definitely take some more funds, but it is possible for a band to come and do it on a budget. Your not going to make any money though.

The Police came to the United Sates in late October 1978 with NO record deal or money from a record company. Sting, Stewart and Andy all bought their own plane tickets with their own money as well as bringing their gear. They rented a van and had one roadie to help with the gear. They played about 20 shows primarily in the North East of the United States as well as a couple of show in Canada. But they drove themselves from place to place and sometimes would even sleep in the same bed at the hotel because they would only get one room. The money they made at shows was used to help pay for the cost of the trip.

When Sting arrived back in London in late November, he handed his wife 10 US Dollars. That was essentially the total monetary profit of the tour. But, at several of the shows they played, Radio DJ's came to the show and added their record to their play list after seeing the band play. Word spread and people began buying up imported copies of the first album on the East Coast. The Police only had a record deal for A&M UK/Ireland at the time, but the success of the late 1978 tour forced A&M to release the album in the United Sates in February 1979 on the Police's terms.

A friend I have played in a country/folk/western cover band that would every few years go over to Scotland and tour on their own. So, its financially possible to do it on your own, just as its financially possible to do a nice lengthy low budget vacation of Europe and some other places.

U2 obviously needed funding for the 3 month coast to coast tour they did of the United States, but it was not something that broke the bank for the record company. Again, playing at a tiny college bar in Pittsburgh or a wet t-shirt contest in Dallas with little or no promotion at all is not going to break the bank. The length of this tour and the miles travelled is where the record company funding came in.

An interesting note is that after October dropped off the US chart after only 15 weeks on the chart, the record company pulled the rug out from U2 and cancelled their funding for the rest of the tour. Thats when U2 jumped on the J. Giels Band "Freeze Frame Tour" and opened up for them at some large basketball arena's.

I'm not sure what U2 would have done if the War album had tanked early like October. They may have tried to jump on one of the big 1983 tours by David Bowie, or the Police.
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:32 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Celticfc


I think that might be from a Swedish TV show.
I just checked and you are right:

11 O'Clock Tick Tock (Mandagsborsen - Feb. 9, 1981 - Swedish TV)

I Will Follow (Mandagsborsen - Feb. 9, 1981 - Swedish TV)
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