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35 Years Ago: U2 Make Their U.S. Television Debut

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U2 is never lacking when it comes to energy or personality, and both those elements were happily on display when the band made their American television debut in June of 1981.

Although Tomorrow, an hour-long talk show hosted by Tom Snyder, was not primarily a music show, it did play host to some of the most interesting acts in music at the time, including the Ramones, the Jam, Adam & the Ants, the Clash, Public Image Ltd. and the Plasmatics.

U2’s debut album, Boy, had just been released stateside in early March, and the band hit the road in the U.S. to promote it. Their stop on Tomorrow proved a memorable one as viewers got their first chance to witness the excitement these guys could deliver at the time.

After a brief introduction, the band tear into the album’s first single, the triumphant “I Will Follow.” During the performance, lead singer Bono goes off-script and wanders up into the audience to engage with the small studio audience. “Was it planned for you to go up the stairs like that? Because usually our camera crew gets very nervous when guys step out of the light,” asked Snyder afterwards.

Snyder then joked with the Edge about his chosen name and asked them what they think of U.S. audiences. “We’ve found there aren’t that many people that actually are the ‘typical American,'” Bono told him. “I like America. There’s a lot of bands who come over here with a very condescending attitude that ‘we’re the greatest gift and we’re coming over to the U.S. and they better like it,” he said, adding, “We’re here ’cause we wanna be here.”

Following the interview, the band delivered a wonderful, if abbreviated, version of “Twilight.”

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