Today marks the 30th anniversary of U2’s album “The Joshua Tree” – pause for a second to feel old, *sigh*, back to article – and while the album cover features a Joshua Tree and is called “The Joshua Tree,” the famous photo was not actually shot in the town of Joshua Tree.
As Rolling Stone notes, the band, along with photographer Anton Corbijn, were on a bus trip through Death Valley in 1986 when they spotted the now-famous tree:
While speeding down Route 190 near Darwin, California, just west of Death Valley, Corbijn found what he was looking for. “Amazingly enough, we found this beautiful tree standing on its own. This [type of] tree usually grows in big groups, so it was incredible to find that tree on its own. I’ve never seen another tree on its own since.” The band pulled over and spent 20 minutes posing with the lone tree before the winter chill drove them back into the bus. “It was freezing and we had to take our coats off so it would at least look like a desert,” Bono explained. “That’s one of the reasons we look so grim.”
Many fans scoured the desert looking for the famous tree, which died of natural causes in 2000, after the album came out. Eventually someone hacked the dead tree to pieces and a couple actually died looking for it in the town of Joshua Tree in 2011. So yeah, sorry for the terrible ending on this post.
Rolling Stone has more on the tree and 9 other items to know about The Joshua Tree in a pretty interesting article which can be found here.