In honor of Bono’s 53rd birthday today, we’re sharing some of U2’s more entertaining controversies, excerpted from the pages of U2 FAQ: Anything You’d Ever Want to Know About the Biggest Band in the World…And More! by John D. Luerssen (Backbeat Books).
1. Jamaica Mistake-a
On January 16, 1996, Bono and his family wound up on the receiving end of police gunfire when his plane landed in Negril, Jamaica. Planning to meet up with Adam Clayton on the island, somehow local police were of the belief that a plane loaded with drugs would be landing in the same area around the same time. When the gunfire finally stopped, the Hewsons, Chris Blackwell, and Jimmy Buffett were offered an apology by the local police, who had fired at the wrong plane.
2. Oasis Kiss
In March 1996, a photo of Bono and Liam Gallagher of Oasis sharing an open-mouthed kiss caused a stir. Taken backstage at the Point Depot in Dublin, fans of both bands quickly derived that it was an alcohol-fueled joke, but not before the media got a lot of mileage out of it. Bono confirmed this to Rolling Stone in 1999, saying, “Actually, what happened was he had a guitar pick in his mouth, and he dared me to take it off him while the paparazzi were standing around. I couldn’t resist.
3. Tabloid Trash
In September 1998, U.K. tabloid the Daily Star published photos of Bono’s bare ass. Bono had been changing his clothes on an Italian beach during a vacation with his wife Ali at the time the paparazzi snapped his bottom. The couple sued the paper for invasion of privacy.
4. Shut Up, Paul
In June 2008, after Paul McGuinness suggested that Radiohead’s 2007 pay-what-you-like download release of In Rainbows had backfired, Bono announced his disagreement with U2’s long running manager. Bono called the Thom Yorke-fronted band “courageous and imaginative in trying to figure out some new relationship with their audience,” in an open letter to the music weekly NME. Calling Radiohead a “sacred talent,” Bono added, “such imagination and courage are in short supply right now,” and explained that U2 “feel blessed to be around at the same time.”
In U2 FAQ, award-winning music journalist John D. Luerssen goes beyond the essential facts, delving into the legendary fables and unique anecdotes that make U2 FAQ an indispensable read for all U2 disciples. How did Bono recover his cherished suitcase of lyrics 23 years after its 1981 disappearance? What movie dialogue is sampled in the middle of “Seconds”? What effect did bull’s blood have on Larry’s drumming? How did Bono’s visit to Central America inform The Joshua Tree? What are the details of Adam’s 1989 marijuana bust? How did Mick Jagger wind up on All That You Can’t Leave Behind? These are just some of the topics U2 FAQ explores.