On November 28, 1987, the Irish rock band U2 played Murphy Center in support of their critically acclaimed Joshua Tree record. They played hits such as “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and lead singer Bono thrilled Wynonna Judd when he invited her onstage to sing Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” Bono connected Murfreesboro to Nashville’s rich musical legacy, remarking during the show, “In Dublin, in Ireland, where we are from, Nashville’s not a place; it doesn’t really exist–it exists in our dreams.” (Tennessean, November 30, 1987)
With opening act the Indigo Girls, R.E.M. played Murphy Center on March 31, 1989. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. mixed a “do-it-yourself” ethic with anthemic songs to become one of the world’s biggest and most influential bands in the 1980s and 90s.