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"As a person, as a performer, you're looking for wholeness. On a spiritual level, I think that's God's design for us. And that often amounts to embracing contradictions." — Bono

Larry Mullen Jr. Biography - @U2

Larry Mullen, Jr.
Born: October 31, 1961
Instrument: Drums

Larry concert solo

Lawrence Joseph Mullen was born and raised in Artane, located on the north side of Dublin, at 60 Rosemount Ave.

He had to add the "Junior" to the end of his name to distinguish himself from his father, Larry Mullen Sr. As Larry's career blossomed, so did his tax bills and his father was the unlucky recipient of them in the early 1980s. Before U2, Larry's previous gigs included playing drums for the Post Office Workers Union Band, and, for three weeks, the Artane Boys Band. Some of his earliest gigs included the St. Patrick's Day Parade on O'Connell Street, the bandstand on St. Stephen's Green, and the pier in Dun Laoghaire.

Larry's music career started when he began taking piano lessons when he was 8 years old. He did not fancy the notion of studying the piano scales or learning music theory, so he gave up the piano and began drumming in 1971. He started taking classes with Ireland's best-known drummer, Joe Bonnie. When Bonnie died a year later, his daughter Monica continued teaching Larry. However, Larry has said that his drumming style is "unteachable" and that spirit and instinct are what guides his technique. He has said that he just wanted to "physically hit the thing," so lessons where he couldn't just play the drums were not his cup of tea, so to speak. In the mid-1990s, Larry sought advice from Berklee College of Music’s Percussion Department Chairman Gary Chaffee, taking lessons at his private studio in Boston.  In 2011, Brian Eno told The New Yorker magazine that Larry has millisecond timing with his drumming, better than any computer. He did return to the piano when he played keyboards on "Yahweh" during the Vertigo tour and is known to provide backing vocals on many U2 tracks.

His sister, Cecilia, bought him his first drum-kit in 1973 for 17 pounds. He placed a notice at the infamous Mount Temple Comprehensive School in the fall of 1976, and on Sept. 25, 1976, the band auditions began in his kitchen in Artane. Although everyone knows the band as U2, Larry claims that the band's name is really "The Larry Mullen Band." 

Growing up, Larry considered his life to be "pretty normal for a while." However, Larry's oldest sister, Mary, died in 1973. Five years later, his mother, Maureen, died in a road traffic accident in November 1978. He says in U2 By U2, "In some ways, both events defined the kind of person I've become. My mother's death certainly catapulted me in the band's direction."  

Larry left school in 1978 after passing his Intermediate Certificate exams. Larry said he was offered an opportunity to complete his Leaving Certificate exams but chose not to as the economy was not doing very well at the time and jobs were difficult to find. While the band was still trying to score a record deal in 1978, Larry worked at Seiscom Delta in the purchasing department for a year. Had he stayed at Seiscom, his career path would have been computer programming for Seiscom's geology department.

In the early days of U2, Larry had to miss some gigs and photo shoots because of the job at Seiscom. For the photo sessions he could not make, friend-of-the-band Derek "Guggi" Rowen stepped in because he resembled Larry to a degree. For the gigs, Larry arranged a stand-in named Eugene from a north Dublin rock band called Stryder. When Larry became injured on the job, running over his toe with his motorbike, Eric Briggs filled in for him on the drums. Bono says in U2 By U2 that there was a period of time when the other three band members almost kicked Larry out of the band because they were not sure how serious he was. Ironically, during the band's first recording session, a CBS record executive suggested that Larry needed to be fired because of his inability to keep tempo. 

Also during the early days, Bono spoke to Larry about a local Christian-based fellowship group called Shalom. Prior to that, Larry grew up with a traditional Catholic background, even serving as an altar boy in church. Larry, Bono and Edge attended the Bible studies with some of their friends from Lypton Village and became friendly with members from Shalom. When Larry, Bono and Edge were told that they should give up their rock-and-roll group a few years later, they chose to leave the Christian group instead. Larry said about Shalom in U2 By U2, "The idea was to create a Christian community, where people would live and work under strict Christian standards, When you're young and impressionable it all sounds ideal. But there was something terribly wrong with the concept. It was a bit like the bigger the commitment you made, the closer you were to heaven. It was a really screwed-up view of the world and nothing to do with what I now understand a Christian faith to be. There was huge pressure to follow that path and what made it even stranger was that rather than it coming from the church leaders, it was coming from our friends. I learned a lot though and I also gained a faith I didn't have before, and that's still with me." 

He has been with his partner, Ann Acheson, for over 40 years. They met during Larry's first year at Mount Temple. Together they have two sons and one daughter: Aaron Elvis (born Oct. 4, 1995), Ava (born Dec. 23, 1998) and Ezra (born in Feb. 2001). He has also been a dog owner, thanking his Labradors (JJ and Missy) on past albums. Larry rarely speaks about his personal life and has been relatively successful in keeping his family life private. He shared with Dutch radio host Ruud de Wild that prior to the birth of his firstborn, he tattooed his arm with a Pawnee Nation Morning Star, symbolizing the protection of innocence. It is featured prominently on the album cover for Songs Of Innocence.

Although he has been plagued by a battle with tendonitis, it has been curbed by specially designed drumsticks from ProMark. Since 2001’s Elevation tour, he has worn compression bandages and wraps to help control the condition. 

Larry has had back pain over the years stemming from an injury in 1987 while on The Joshua Tree Tour. Bill Flanagan says in his book Until The End Of The World: "Bono says Larry tried different doctors without success until he went to a German who brought in a holistic healer who started giving Larry shots of bull's blood. That did the trick! Larry's Irish doctor refuses to accept it - he looks at X-rays of Larry's crooked spine and says it's impossible, but Larry feels fine. He flies to Germany for shots of bull's blood regularly." Three weeks after his first son's birth in 1995, Larry required back surgery to sort the injury out. Larry returned to the studio three weeks after surgery for the Pop recording sessions, thus complicating the healing process. 

His award-winning music career includes being inducted with his bandmates into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, 22 Grammy Awards, the Rory Gallagher Musician of the Year Award from Hot Press magazine, the lifetime achievement award from Yamaha, an Emmy Award, eight Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award as well as many others from a variety of music magazines, trade publications and music television networks. He was nominated with his bandmates for an Oscar in 2003 for "The Hands That Built America," the same song that won the Golden Globe that year. He has also served as a judge for the Shortlist Music Prize. In 2000 he accepted the Freedom of Dublin award, and in doing so is allowed to let his sheep graze on College Green or St. Stephen's Green. He is also exempted from serving as the city coroner or city bailiff, among other benefits. 

Besides U2, Larry has done some side projects with artists like Alice Cooper, Nanci Griffith, Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris, Robbie Robertson, Paul Brady and B.B. King, among others. In honor of the Irish National Football team's bid for the World Cup in 1990, Larry co-wrote and co-produced the anthem "Put 'Em Under Pressure." He also worked with fellow bandmate Adam Clayton on the theme to Mission: Impossible for the film's release in 1996. Larry and Adam also teamed up with Mike Mills and Michael Stipe to form the group "Automatic Baby" for Bill Clinton's Presidential Inauguration in 1993 at MTV's Inaugural Ball. 

When not on a musical journey, Larry has taken up acting and producing films. He produced and co-starred with Donald Sutherland as The Man in Man On The Train in 2011, winning the Star On The Horizon Award from the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. In 2013, he starred as Tom in A Thousand Times Good Night. The film won the Grand Prix Jury award at the 2013 Montreal Film Festival, the Founder’s Award at the 2013 Chicago International Film Festival, and several Norwegian Amanda Awards in 2014. Larry said in 2018 he would like to return to being a filmmaker in some capacity when not touring with U2.

Known for his love of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he has driven his Harley from gig to gig in the past, clocking over 10,000 miles on the Zoo TV tour alone. He is also recognized for his fandom for Elvis Presley, following the Irish National Football team, playing pranks on people, and stealing the spotlight with a karaoke machine. 

NOTE: Much of the information contained in this biography came from Larry's comments in U2 By U2, as well as research from Life magazine, www.u2faqs.com, and Modern Drummer magazine. To hear Larry tell a bit of his story in his own words, check out the Yamaha Lifetime Achievement Award video produced by Yamaha Corporation of America for his award ceremony.

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Adam Clayton, bass
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Bono, vocals
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Larry Mullen Jr., drums
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The Edge, guitar