The Edge: The Music He Loves

Back in 1976, the Edge (then known simply as David Evans) teamed up with a few boys from Dublin to form the Larry Mullen Band. Never heard of them? That's because the name only lasted a few seconds.

They soon re-emerged as Feedback, which spun into the Hype, but it wasn't until the quartet decided on U2 -- a name they agreed they hated least -- that the group solidified and began their meteoric rise to the top of the charts.

Years later, the Edge is a guitarist and songwriter for what is undisputedly one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and one that has gone far beyond the world of rock to make a serious impact on global events.

"For a growing number of rock 'n' roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters," declared Rolling Stone in 1985, when they were already one of the world's most popular acts.

Punk Rock Passion

So what songs and artists does this legend listen to the most? For the Edge, it's a variety, ranging from songs by patriarchs of rock like Bob Dylan and the Beatles, to less mainstream acts like the Rebirth Brass Band. But each one is connected to some time or place in his life.

In 1975, the Edge was just 14 years old. He was a year away from meeting his future band mates and had yet to record such hits as "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With or Without You."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a New Jersey girl named Patti Smith busted the world of punk rock wide open. Her debut album, "Horses," redefined the genre by fusing rock 'n' roll and punk rock with spoken poetry. The album experienced only modest commercial success but its impact on the rock world was tremendous.

More than 30 years later, the opening track, Smith's cover of the Van Morrison song "Gloria," remains on the Edge's playlist -- a song he says was one of U2's earliest muses.

"That changed everything for me at the time because we were starting to play as a band," said the Edge. "The ideas… we're a band who loves to mix it up with the sexual, the spiritual, whatever, the political, and there in that song she did that so incredibly."

Rock 'n' Roll Roots

Within a few years U2 encountered international acclaim. They had become well known for their powerful live performances and in 1983 won the BRIT Award for best live act. But four studio albums had come and gone and the group had yet to have a No.1 record outside of the U.K.

After the release of their fourth album, "The Unforgettable Fire," in 1984, the band began exploring blues, country and gospel music. Their relationships with rock legends such as Van Morrison, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan had inspired them to explore the roots of rock 'n' roll.

During the recording sessions of U2's fifth album, "The Joshua Tree," the Edge found inspiration in the form of another debut record -- the Band's "Music from Big Pink" released in 1968. The album's hit single, "The Weight," made famous by the classic film "Easy Rider," particularly stood out for the Edge.

"We were first exploring American music and hearing their work, really delving into it -- it was mind blowing for me," he said. "And that I will always associate with a particular summer up in the hills in Dublin."

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