Adam Charles Clayton (born 13 March 1960) is the bassist of the rock band U2. Clayton has resided in County Dublin since the time his family moved to Malahide when he was five years old in 1965.
Clayton is well-known for his bass playing on songs such as “New Year’s Day”, “Bullet the Blue Sky”, “With or Without You”, “Mysterious Ways”, “Get on Your Boots”, and “Magnificent”. His work on No Line on the Horizon has been cited as his best bass playing. He has worked on several solo projects throughout his career, such as his work with fellow band member Larry Mullen Jr. on the theme of 1996’s Mission: Impossible. Clayton, as a part of U2, has won 22 Grammy awards.
As a bass player, Adam Clayton’s most recognizable basslines include “New Year’s Day”, which evolved out of an attempt to play Visage’s song “Fade to Grey”, and “With or Without You”. His style includes Motown and reggae influences, and cites artists such as Paul Simonon of The Clash as influences on his musical style.
When Clayton first joined the fledgling U2, he did not have formal training in the bass. In the band’s early years, he generally played simple parts in 4/4 time. Bono said of Clayton’s early bass playing, “Adam used to pretend he could play bass. He came round and started using words like action and fret and he had us baffled. He had the only amplifier so we never argued with him. We thought this guy must be a musician, he knows what he’s talking about and then one day we discovered he wasn’t playing the right notes, that’s what’s wrong, y’know?”
Clayton has sung on several occasions, including on the song “Endless Deep”, the B-side to the single “Two Hearts Beat As One” from 1983.
Clayton also sung backup vocals on I Will Follow during live performances in 1983 and 1984. He also spoke the last verse of “Your Blue Room”. Clayton can be heard speaking on “Tomorrow (‘96 Version)” (a rerecording of “Tomorrow” that he arranged) a song from U2’s 1981 album October. He plays the guitar on a few occasions, most notably the song “40”, where he and guitarist The Edge switch instruments. He also plays the keyboard introduction to “City of Blinding Lights”.
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