We know U2 as one of the most successful rock bands of the past 40 years, but the four guys who became famous as U2 weren’t the same four guys who showed up for the first rehearsal on September 25, 1976.
Larry Mullen Jr. was a 14-year old drummer who wanted some people to make music with, so he posted a note on the school bulletin board looking for musicians to join him. On that September afternoon, he was joined by Paul “Bono” Hewson, David “Edge” Evans, Dave’s brother Dik Evans, Adam Clayton, and Ivan McCormick. They figured they would do cover versions of the punk music that was so popular in Ireland and the UK at the time. Although they admittedly had limited music talent, songs by The Jam, The Clash, and Sex Pistols seemed so simple that the boys were convinced that they didn’t need to be great musicians to be successful. They called their new band “Feedback” because, well, it was one of the only musical terms they knew… and it was a sound they accidentally made quite often in those early days.
Ivan McCormick didn’t last long. He was gone inside of the first year. And as the band began to develop a following, they changed their name to “The Hype” But Dik Evans didn’t feel the hype. He was a few years older than the other guys and was going off to college, and he just seemed like the odd man out. “It was almost a generation gap type of gulf between us,” Dik told author John Jobling for his book U2: The Definitive Biography, “I just didn’t fit in.”
Shortly before the band was asked to demo for CBS Records in March of 1978, Dik Evans played his last show with The Hype and voluntarily left the band with no hard feelings. It wasn’t long after that the band changed their name to U2 and would very quickly go on to worldwide fame with the four members we know today.
Around that same time, two guys named Steve were starting a computer company in California. Apple was founded in April of 1976, a few months before the guys from U2 started playing together in Dublin, Ireland. The timeline of Apple’s rise and U2’s fame match-up almost perfectly, as does the inclusion of the odd man out. For U2 it was Dik Evans. For Apple, that man was Ronald Wayne.
Ronald had worked with Steve Jobs at Atari and was considered the “adult” on the young Apple team. While Jobs and Steve Wozniak were both in their early 20s and prone to the tendencies of their age, Wayne was a 42-year old who brought maturity and experience. While with Apple he wrote the partnership agreement, designed the first company logo, and wrote the instruction manual for the Apple 1, the first product the company created. But only two weeks after Apple was officially founded, Wayne asked to be bought out and relinquished his equity for $800. A year later, while Apple was still struggling to get off the ground, Wayne accepted a $1500 one-time payment to forfeit any future claims against the company. His initial 10% share, had he held onto it, would be worth $35 billion today.
These days Ronald isn’t angry or vindictive. “I honestly don’t regret walking away at all,” he told The Daily Mail in 2013. “I made a decision that allowed me to pursue my interests. Who could have anticipated it would be what it is today?”
Dik Evans went on to form other bands and remained active in the Dublin music scene. Ronald Wayne, despite offers to work with Apple again, ran a stamp shop in a remote town in Nevada before retiring. Neither of them achieved the fame or fortune that their early collaborators did.
Great businesses – and great bands – are simply teams, and teams take time to come together. Teams are complicated and sometimes messy, but when they perform they get incredible things done. When they don’t, it all falls apart. Finding the right people to be on your team is critical, as is the quest to get and keep the team performing at their optimum level.