When people think of U2's guitarist, David Howell Evans, known by all as The Edge, they likely think of his great, reverb-heavy guitar work first. The second thing they remember is that he's the dude that always has a hat on. First it was a sombrero but then he moved on to a close-knit ski hat (Many fans would say that the fu-manchu mustache and cowboy hat he sported during the late 1990s never happened). He's taken pictures with presidents of various countries while wearing the cap and photos of him sans hatwear are about as rare as legitimate Bigfoot sightings.
Dave Evans was born in the Essex suburb of Barking, England on Aug. 8, 1961, but his family moved to County Dublin, Ireland when he was a year old due to his father getting a work promotion. His mother got him a guitar at a very young age and he became hooked. He joined an early version of U2 with his brother Dik Evans (later a key member of post-punk cult heroes The Virgin Prunes) in 1976; they answered an ad that drummer Larry Mullen Jr. had placed at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School, but Dik left in 1978, right before the band officially became U2. It was during this era that Dave Evans became The Edge, a nickname he got from lead singer Paul Hewson, who became known as Bono around the same time; the name came from the guitarist's angular features and sharp mind. The young band's first album was Boy (1980), an immediate critical and commercial success due to the single "I Will Follow." After briefly contemplating leaving the group upon becoming a born-again Christian, The Edge married Aislynn O'Sullivan, who had been his girlfriend in secondary school, in 1983. U2 became one of the most popular bands of the 1980s and '90s through steadily more popular albums including October (1981), War (1983), The Unforgettable Fire (1984) and the breakthrough success The Joshua Tree (1987). The million-selling disc won the Grammy for Best Album in 1988. A follow-up documentary film, "Rattle and Hum" (1988), followed the band on a triumphant American tour.
The success hurt his personal life. He separated from O'Sullivan, with whom he had three daughters, in 1990, just as U2 were reinventing themselves sonically with the experimental "Achtung Baby" (1991), the couple got formally divorced in '96. Like Bono, The Edge had a philanthropic bent, founding "Music Rising," which helped give instruments to children who had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. As U2 settled into a mature creative phase, The Edge and Bono occasionally experimented with other media, including writing the theme song for Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" (2002) and writing the score for "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," a critically-derided Broadway adaptation of the comic book.