Even the biggest bands in the world have to start somewhere - and sometimes getting a break means telling a few white lies. U2 (opens in new tab) are certainly guilty as charged on that score; as guitarist The Edge (opens in new tab) recently told Tom Morello (opens in new tab) on the latter's Maximum Firepower podcast. In 1978 U2 played a Ramones in an audition to play on Irish national television and pretended they wrote it.
"The Ramones were the band that we really first used as an inspiration in terms of playing, because their music was so straight ahead," The Edge explains. "It was chord-based and it was fast and it suited us down to the ground."
Indeed it suited them almost too well…
"Our very first TV appearance," The Edge continues, "somehow, don't ask me how, but some producer from the national broadcast company came to our school looking for youth talent for some new show that they were pulling together. One of our teachers said, 'Well there's somebody who plays the flute in the fourth year, there's kind of an ok ballet dancer in sixth class… oh and there's a rock 'n' roll band that's just started and they're rehearsing on a Saturday and Wednesday. And it happens to be Wednesday so they're probably in rehearsal right now.'
"So somebody came over and said, 'You probably won't be interested but would you want to be on national television?' And we said, 'Of course we would!' So they said, 'Would it be OK if the producer comes over in ten minutes and listens to one of your songs?' So there was a ten minute argument over what we were going to play and we were still in the midst of the argument when everyone walked in the room, so now we're like, no plan, no idea.
"Bono just says, 'The song of ours we should play is Glad To See You Go and he's looking at Larry, me and Adam and we all go, 'OK'. The Ramones song? Cool. So we just played a Ramones song and the guy said, 'So that's one of your tunes?' Yep!"
U2 got on the show (they were called Hype) at the time, as the clip above shows but to their credit, once they got their foot in the door of opportunity they didn't continue the lie. The band performed their own song Street Mission and The Edge even came clean with a Ramone about it all years later.
"In the interim four or five weeks we had time to finish the song that we were about to perform. And one of the great thrills was being able to meet Joey Ramone years later and being able to tell him that story and he rolled around the floor laughing at that one.