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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 had released three singles in the six months from May to October that year 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. It might all go pear shaped but you’d never knew unless you gave it a try, 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. I’ve rarely seen a band work so hard at cracking the UK. The previous December they had done, I think six London shows in ten days

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. It was a catch 22 situation, 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. 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? Too 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 genuinely 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. Now we were really starting to get others to believe in them. At this point we were starting to think, just maybe…..


September 4, 2012 - Posted in News By:

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Jon Kirkman 11 years ago

I remember when they were first on Radio City on the Phil Easton show and they told some great stories about them touring America supporting Ted Nugent. I saw them at Bradys(The old Erics Club) and was knocked out by them and as I was the singles buyer at HMV in Liverpool at the time I got a lot of stuff from the Island records rep. Didn’t sell too many then but slowly but surely they all went once the buzz about the band kicked in. I remember meeting them after their gig at the Royal Court to suppoort October in 1981. Really nice guys and knocked out to be playing a venue the size of the Royal Court on their own. Great story though Tony 🙂


tonym 11 years ago

Yes Jon I was at both those shows, Phil interviewed them a couple of times and at the Royal Court show I brought Mark Radcliffe over to interview them for Piccadilly Radio. Mark was my lodger at the time too! I still I have that interview somewhere. I know I have the one I did with them in 1984 for a New Years Eve special just after The Unforgettable Fire.


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