When U2 launches their Las Vegas residency Friday night, one band member will be notably absent: drummer Larry Mullen Jr.

Even though he's been with U2 since the band’s inception, Mullen will not be behind the kit when the legendary Irish rockers christen the state-of-the-art MSG Sphere venue. The decision came down to the drummer’s health and wellness.

"I have lots of bits falling off, elbows, knees, necks, and so during COVID when we weren't playing, I got a chance to have a look at some of these things," the drummer explained to The Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers earlier this year. "So I'd like to take some time, which I will do to get myself healed."

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What Are Larry Mullen Jr.’s Health Issues?

Although he wasn't specific regarding his various ailments, Mullen Jr. noted that his body had broken down due to U2’s decades of demanding touring. In the past, he’d pushed through such issues out of a desire to perform, but now, at the age of 61, he’s determined he needs to focus on his health.

"I really enjoy playing and I enjoy the process of playing and being in the company of creative people,” the drummer admitted. “I really miss the audiences. I miss that interaction even though I'm sitting behind a drum kit. ... My body is not what it used to be physically.”

Although he will be missed, the other members of U2 have been fully supportive of their drummer’s decision.

“The whole band and I’m sure the audience are going to be very sad and miss Larry, but I think he is doing what Larry does, which is taking his health very responsibly,” bassist Adam Clayton noted. “And he wants to come back, wants to be able to have a long career and continue his drumming.”

Who Will Be Drumming for U2 During Their Las Vegas Residency?

U2’s anticipated Las Vegas residency, called U2UV: Achtung Baby Live at Sphere, begins on Friday. Filling in for Mullen Jr. will be Bram van den Berg, drummer of the Dutch pop-rock band Krezip.

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“It’s going to take all we’ve got to approach the Sphere without our bandmate in the drum seat, but Larry has joined us in welcoming Bram van den Berg who is a force in his own right,” the band said in a statement announcing the Dutch musician’s involvement.

“Very excited about this opportunity to join Bono, the Edge and Adam onstage in Las Vegas,” van der Berg wrote to social media following the announcement. “It’s big shoes to fill but Larry and the band have been so supportive, I can’t wait!!”

Even though Mullen Jr. won't be performing with the band, he remains active in everything U2 does. The drummer was notably alongside the rest of his bandmates for a recent surprise gig and music video shoot on Fremont Street, at which U2 debuted their new song, "Atomic City."

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Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp