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Stories for boys..U2 Early beginnings

In 1980 I was working with U2, I’d been taking them in and out of radio stations prior to the release of their first single, ‘11 o’ clock tick tock’ and trying to get them in for interviews wherever I could. They released 3 singles in the six months from May to October and we had been working relentlessly driving up and down the motorways to talk to whoever would have us….and then more of the same upfront of the release of their debut album, ‘Boy.’

You hoped all the hard work would pay off and that opportunities would come your way, you’d take some risks, take a chance on something… might go pear shaped but you’d never know if you didn’t give it a go…… It’s the reason you try it in the first place.

If you believe it enough you won’t need convincing and you won’t need to convince others.

November that year was incredible. There were a few of us at Island Records who believed in the band and we were all convinced they could be huge. Rob and Neil in the press department had done an unbelievable job getting journalists along to see them play and were starting to get some really good feedback. All their efforts culminated in an NME (New Musical Express) front cover at the start of the year.

At that time there had still been no significant breakthrough with any national radio or television exposure and we all knew we would struggle to survive on press alone. In order to maintain the great press coverage they (the press) would need to see others pick up on the band……… and to get radio and television interested you needed the press, it was catch 22. We were at the crossroads, something needed to give. We needed to get that break otherwise it would be impossible to keep the momentum going.

I received some amazing news. Tony Hale the Radio One producer who was based in Manchester and therefore a contact of mine, loved the band. Were they available to record a session for the Peter Powell show? WERE THEY AVAILABLE……Damn right they were available! Around the same time, maybe a week or so sooner I got confirmation that Granada TV’s network kids show ‘Get it together’ wanted to book them. I couldn’t believe my luck….all my Christmas’s had come at once. I say luck but in all honesty I had been working hard on the band for most of the year, we all had and felt we deserved this break. This was the most significant result we’d had up until now from national radio and TV in the UK…… we were really starting to get others to believe in them. At this point we were starting to think, just maybe…..



May 24, 2011 - Posted in News By:

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Mike Sullivan 11 years ago

Tony, just so you get the releases correct (I know 33 years ago mind you be a bit foggy).

But their FIRST single release was Out Of Control on the U23 single in September/October of 1979. Not 11 O’Clock tick Tock as you posted.

Another Day was the Second single release on February 26 1980

11 O’clock Tick Tock was their THIRD single released on May 23rd 1980. So just wanted to clarify.

Fourth single was I Will Follow in October of 1980 and then another release of it in March of 1981.



tonym 11 years ago

Hi Mike

Thanks for the note and apologies for the late reply. I think we are both right here. The EP U23 was released on CBS in Ireland but not here in the UK. In the blog I was referring to my time with Island and working with them just after they’d signed in March 1980 slightly after CBS released Another Day. CBS were actually given the opportunity to sign them for the UK but passed….Hmmm I wonder if that guy kept his job!


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