With its textured guitars, U2's sound was undeniably indebted to post-punk, so it's slightly ironic that the band formed in 1976, before punk had reached their hometown of Dublin, Ireland. Larry Mullen Jr. (born October 31, 1961; drums) posted a notice on a high-school bulletin board asking for fellow musicians to form a band. Bono (born Paul Hewson, May 10, 1960; vocals, guitar), the Edge (born David Evans, August 8, 1961; guitar, keyboards, vocals), Adam Clayton (born March 13, 1960; bass), and Dick Evans responded to the ad, and the group formed as a Beatles and Stones cover band called the Feedback, before changing their name to the Hype in 1977. Shortly afterward, Dick Evans left the band to form the Virgin Prunes. Following his departure, the group changed its name to U2.
U2's first big break arrived in 1978, when they won a talent contest sponsored by Guinness; the band were in their final year of high school at the time. By the end of the year, the Stranglers' manager, Paul McGuinness, saw the band play and offered to manage them. Even with a powerful manager in their corner, the band had trouble making much headway -- they failed an audition with CBS Records at the end of the year. In the fall of 1979, U2 released their debut EP, U2 Three. The EP was available only in Ireland, and it topped the national charts. Shortly afterward, they began to play in England, but they failed to gain much attention.
U2 had one other chart-topping single, "Another Day," in early 1980 before Island Records offered the group a contract. Later that year, the band's debut, Boy, was released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the record's sweeping, atmospheric but edgy sound was unlike most of its post-punk contemporaries, and the band earned further attention for its public embrace of Christianity; only Clayton was not a practicing Christian. Through constant touring, including opening gigs for Talking Heads and wet T-shirt contests, U2 were able to take Boy into the American Top 70 in early 1981. October, also produced by Lillywhite, followed in the fall, and it became their British breakthrough, reaching number 11 on the charts. By early 1983, Boy's "I Will Follow" and October's "Gloria" had become staples on MTV, which, along with their touring, gave the group a formidable cult following in the U.S.