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Rewinding The Charts: In 1987, U2 Beat The Beastie Boys

On this date 27 years ago, U2 broke through with its first Billboard 200 No. 1 album.

U2 went from respected rock band to worldwide superstars in 1987, thanks to the blockbuster success of “The Joshua Tree.”

The group’s fifth album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 dated April 4, 1987 and hit No. 1 three weeks later, ending the seven-week run of Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill.” U2’s previous chart peak had been No. 12, with 1983’s “War” and 1984’s “The Unforgettable Fire.”

“The Joshua Tree” spent nine weeks at No. 1, the longest reign of any of U2’s seven chart-toppers (which includes an incredible streak of four more No. 1s in a row that followed). The album is U2’s most successful seller, with 10 million copies sold in the U.S., according to the RIAA. It also produced the band’s only No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100: “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

In the March 28, 1987 issue, Billboard called “The Joshua Tree” “near perfection” and predicted big sales: “Almost every song is a thought-provoking piece of rock that slowly builds to a crescendo … The album reportedly shipped platinum [1 million copies]; a seven-month world tour … should push sales far beyond that.”


U2 is now at work on its 13th studio album, the band’s first in four years. “The album won’t be ready ’til it’s ready,” Bono recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have to spend a couple of years taking these songs around the world, so they’d better be good.”