The band's popular 1983 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" commemorated the slaughter of innocent civilians during the Irish troubles. It called for a renunciation of violence, a sentiment that resonated greatly with the people of Ireland. Throughout the 1980s the band used this song to campaign against the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) efforts to raise money to fuel continued armed conflict. The IRA sent a threat to U2 that if they continued their campaign they would be kidnapped. The band continued anyway.
The band's 1984 album "Unforgettable Fire" was named after paintings made by the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. The album's songs "Pride" and "MLK" were both tributes to the modern-day leader they most admire, Martin Luther King. Another song, "Bad", was about heroin addiction, which was a serious problem in their home town of Dublin at that time.
U2 were major participants in the historic and seminal "Live Aid" concert of 1985, which raised funds for relief from a severe drought in Ethiopia. The band was seen by many of the 1.5 billion people who viewed the concert on live television, and Bono's unscripted leap into the crowd captured the imagination of all. The more than 75 performing groups raised some $250 million for the charity. In the months following the concert, U2's record sales skyrocketed and have never come back down. In 1986 the band headlined a promotional tour to support Amnesty International, and the effort reportedly tripled the organization's membership.
In the 1990s the band's music and concerts mocked the excesses of commercialism. Some critics failed to understand that Bono's exaggerated on-stage personas during the "Zoo TV" tour were parodies, and thus concluded that the band had given in to what they in fact were criticizing. In the early 2000s U2 shifted from stadium extravaganzas to performing in smaller arenas where they were closer to their audiences. In 2004 the band teamed up with iPod for an innovative promotional campaign.
U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. By that year they had won 22 Grammy awards, a historic record surpassed only by Stevie Wonder.