David Howell Evans (born 8
August 1961), more widely known by his nickname and stage name
The Edge (or simply just Edge),
is a musician known best as the guitarist, keyboardist,
and main backing vocalist for the
Irish rock band U2.
His distinctive electric guitar timbre
style of playing, along
with his use of digital sound processing — delay
in particular — has been crucial
in defining U2's unique sound. In 2003, Rolling Stone
magazine named him at #24
on its list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
David Howell Evans was born
at the Barking Maternity Hospital, Essex,
England to Welsh parents Garvin and Gwenda Evans.
was a year old, his family moved to Malahide in County
Dublin, Ireland where he
attended St. Andrew's
He received piano
lessons and often performed with
his brother Dik Evans
before they both
answered an advertisement posted by Larry Mullen, Jr.
at their school,
, seeking musicians to form a band. The
band accepted both of them. This band would go through several
incarnations before emerging as U2 in March 1978 (Dik Evans left
the band just before the name change). U2 began performing in
various venues in Ireland and eventually began developing a
following. Their debut album, Boy
, was released in 1980.
In 1981, leading up to the October tour, Evans came very close to
leaving U2 for religious reasons, but he was persuaded to stay.
During this period, he became involved with a group called Shalom
Tigers, in which bandmates Bono
Mullen Jr. were also involved. Shortly after deciding to remain
with the band, he wrote a piece of music that was to become
"Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Edge married his secondary school girlfriend Aislinn O'Sullivan
on 12 July 1983. The
couple had three daughters together: Hollie, in 1984, Arran, in
1985, and Blue Angel, in 1989. The Edge and O'Sullivan separated in
1990 but could not divorce due to Irish laws regarding marriage
annulment; divorce was legalised
in 1995 and the couple legally divorced in 1996.
During U2's groundbreaking Zoo TV Tour
The Edge met Morleigh Steinberg, a professional dancer and
choreographer employed by the band. The couple began dating in
1993, and had their daughter, Sian, in 1997, and a son, Levi,
(October 25, 1999). They were married on 22 June 2002.
He is currently focusing his humanitarian efforts on Music Rising
, a charity that provides musical
instruments to those who lost instruments in Hurricane Katrina
As a guitar player, The Edge is recognized as having a trademark
sound typified by a low-key playing style, a chiming, shimmering
sound (thanks in part to the signature sound of classic VOX AC-30
) that is achieved with extensive use of
, and a focus on texture and melody
. To achieve an "Edge-like" sound, the feedback
delay is set to a dotted eighth note (3/16 of a measure), and the
feedback gain is adjusted until a note played repeats two or three
1987's The Joshua Tree
probably the best example of the "U2 sound", with songs like
"With or Without You
"Where the Streets Have
" being among the band's most critically acclaimed and
best loved works. The album was recorded at the height of the 1980s
"shred-metal" era but The Edge's guitar playing on it could not be
further from the emphasis of the time on technique and speed. The
album showcases The Edge's approach to the guitar: rather than
trying to push his guitar to the front of the mix and make his
contributions obvious, The Edge focuses on the song and the mood,
often contributing just a few simple lead lines given depth and
richness by an ever-present digital delay. For example, the
introduction to "Where the Streets Have No Name" is simply a
repeated six-note arpeggio
, broadened by a
modulated delay effect. The Edge has said that he views musical
notes as "expensive", in that he prefers to play as few notes as
possible. He said in 1982 of his style, "I like a nice ringing
sound on guitar, and most of my chords I find two strings and make
them ring the same note, so it's almost like a 12-string sound. So
for E I might play a B, E, E and B and make it ring. It works very
well with the Gibson Explorer
funny because the bass end of the Explorer was so awful that I used
to stay away from the low strings, and a lot of the chords I played
were very trebly, on the first four, or even three strings. I
discovered that through using this one area of the fretboard I was
developing a very stylized way of doing something that someone else
would play in a normal way."
The Edge in June 2005
The Edge's guitar technique has been shaped by many different
influences. His first guitar was an old acoustic guitar
, with which his brother
and he experimented. He said in
1982 of this early experimentation, "I suppose the first link in
the chain was a visit to the local jumble sale where I purchased a
guitar for a pound. That was my first instrument. It was an
acoustic guitar and me and my elder brother Dik both played it,
plonking away, all very rudimentary stuff, open chords and all
The Edge has stated that many of his guitar parts are based around
guitar effects. This is especially true from the Achtung Baby
era onwards, although much of
the band's 1980s material made heavy use of echos. His influence as
a guitarist can be heard by acts such as Radiohead
, and other bands of the
The Edge also supplies the backing vocals for U2. U2's 1983 live
album and video release, Under
a Blood Red Sky
and Live at Red Rocks:
Under a Blood Red Sky
are good reference points for his
singing (as are the live DVDs from the Elevation Tour, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane
and Elevation 2001: Live from
). For example, he sings the chorus to "Sunday Bloody Sunday
harmonizes on the final 'Sunday'). U2 used this tradeoff technique
later in "Bullet the Blue Sky
as well. His backing vocals are often in the form of a repeated
cry. Examples of songs that use this approach include "Beautiful Day
" and "New Year's Day
". The Edge sings the
lead vocal on "Van Diemen's
" and "Numb
", the first half
of the song "Seconds", dual vocals with Bono in "Discotheque", and
the bridge in the song "Miracle Drug
His backing vocals are often in falsetto, such as "Stuck in a Moment You
Can't Get Out Of
", "Sometimes You Can't Make
It on Your Own
", live versions of "The Fly
and "Window in the Skies
also sings the occasional lead vocal in live renditions of other
songs (such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" during the PopMart Tour
and "Party Girl" during the
Rotterdam Zoo TV show when it was Bono's birthday).
He has played piano and keyboards on many of the band's songs,
including "I Fall Down", "October
", "New Year's Day
", "Running to Stand Still
", "Miss Sarajevo
", "The Hands that Built
America", and "Original of the
" and others. He plays the organ on "Please"
. In live versions of "New Year's
Day" and "The
", he plays both the piano and guitar parts
alternately. In most live versions of "Original of the Species,"
piano is the only instrument played during the song.
Although The Edge is the band's lead
, he occasionally plays bass
, including most live performances of the song
where The Edge and bassist
In addition to his regular role within U2, The Edge has also
recorded with such artists as Johnny
, B. B.
, and Ronnie Wood
The Edge connected with Brian Eno
collaborator Michael Brook
(the creator of the infinite guitar
, which he regularly uses),
working with him on the score to the
(1986). From this soundtrack the song
"Heroine", the vocal of which was sung by a young Sinéad O'Connor
was released as a
He also created the theme song for Season 1 and 2 of The Batman
The Edge plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano,
bass guitar (on "40" and "Race Against Time") and lap steel
Compared to many lead guitarists, The Edge is known for using many
more guitars during a show. According to his guitar tech Dallas Schoo
, a typical lead guitarist uses
four or five different guitars in one night, whereas The Edge takes
45 on the road, and uses 17 to 19 in one 2.5-hour concert. He is
estimated to have more than 200 guitars in the studio.
- The Edge donated his cream Les Paul Custom to an auction
to benefit Music Rising.
- Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
- 2005 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Music Rising (Most likely, Edge has
more than one of these)
- 1966 Gibson SG Heritage cherry finish.
Used live for "Elevation".
- 1966 Gibson SG Pelham blue finish.
Backup to the Heritage cherry SG
- Fender Telecaster Blonde
finish. Used live for "Vertigo" and "Get on your Boots" and "Sunday
Bloody Sunday" at times.
- 1996 Fender Telecaster White
with matching headstock, pearloid bindings and golden hardware,
40th Anniversary edition, made in Japan. Used live for "Sunday
Bloody Sunday" on the Elevation and Vertigo tours.
- 1962 Fender Jaguar (Seen in
"Electrical Storm" video)
- Rickenbacker 330/12 Fireglow. Used
live for "Mysterious Ways" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your
- Rickenbacker 330/12 Mapleglow. Used
live for "Mysterious Ways" on the U2360°TOUR.
- 1963 Gretsch G6122
- Gretsch G6117
Double Anniversary Sunburst finish, currently used during the
U2360°TOUR for "Moment Of Surrender"
- Gretsch White Falcon Mainly
used in the studio and on early TV performances of "Trip Through
Your Wires". Not seen on tour. Also seen in the movie "Rattle and
Hum" during the song "Desire".
- Line 6 Variax 700 Acoustic (2). One,
black with red 'vertigo' circles around the soundhole, was used for
"The Fly" during the 'Vertigo' tour in 2005/2006. The other was a
silver sparkle model, which was used primarily for "Love and Peace
(Or Else), during the 'Vertigo' tour in 2005/2006.
- 1962 Epiphone Casino tobacco
- Epiphone Sheraton
- 2006 Epiphone Standard Music Rising
- Gibson J-200 natural
- Gibson J-200 Pete
Townshend Model (2) natural finish
- 199x Fernandes Decade Elite
(2). One "sea foam" finish. One "orange" finish
- 2001 Fernandes Native Pro.
Metallic green finish.
- 2002 Fernandes Retrorocket
Elite. Custom black finish. Used for "With Or Without You" because
of the sustainer pickup.
- 1997 Gibson ES-175 sparkle blue
finish (Bono's) Edge can be seen with this guitar in "The Ground
Beneath Her Feet" video.
- Gibson ES-330 tobacco finish
- Gibson ES-335 tobacco finish
- Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe. Black
finish. Used briefly during the summer October festival shows. Soon
replaced by the 1975 Gibson Les Paul Custom.
- Gibson Byrdland may have been
borrowed. Seen in some Rattle and Hum outtakes pictures and
- Washburn/Taylor Acoustics, made famous during the live
version of "Party Girl".
- Yamaha CP70 (Keyboard)/Piano:
used for "October", "New Year's Day", "Running To Stand Still",
"Moment of Surrender", "Original Of The Species."
When he takes over for bassist Adam
for the song "40
", he used the
Musician in the 1980s and the Lakland
Darryl Jones Signature for the more recent
- Vox AC30 - his 1964 AC30 has been used
to record every single U2 album and has been used
for every single concert. He has said in interviews that he owns
over thirty AC30's.
Deluxe Tweed - 1956 with Vox speaker
Deluxe Tweed - 1958 with Jensen Alnico speaker
- Fender Blues Jr
- Roland JC120
Pedals and Rack
- Boss FV-300L volume pedal
- Dunlop Cry Baby
- Digitech Whammy WH-1
- Skrydstrup SC-1 (foot controller which controls the gear in
rack, and the pedals as well.)
- U2 Limited (2006). U2 by U2. London: HarperCollinsPublishers,
21. ISBN 0-00-719668-7
100 Greatest Guitarists of
- U2 Limited (2006). U2 by U2. London: HarperCollinsPublishers,
117-120. ISBN 0-00-719668-7
- U2 Rotterdam, 1993-05-10, Feyenoord Stadium, ZOO TV Tour -
U2 on tour