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.
Greasy Lake: Why does the world need another Bruce Springsteen book?
John D. Luersson: Bruce Springsteen FAQ is designed to be an entertaining reference book – one that hardcore fans can enjoy as much as passive fans. When I was quoted as saying “It’s the only Bruce book you’ll ever need” by Backstreets, it might have sounded a little pompous but what I meant is that was my goal in writing it. Want to settle a bet over what year Bruce crashed his motorbike into a tree? Pick up Bruce FAQ. It happened at his Holmdel farm in April 1979.
When did The Boss first encounter John Cafferty and Beaver Brown? August 25, 1978, at Toad’s Place in New Haven. It’s there on page 218.
GL: What makes you qualified to write a Bruce Springsteen book? How big of a fan are you yourself?
JDL: I have been writing about rock and roll for 27 years. My first record review – of The Smiths’ Meat is Murder – ran in my Westfield High School newspaper in 1985. I’ve interviewed some of my heroes – Joe Strummer, Iggy Pop, Paul Westerberg – and some of my current favorites like Ryan Adams, Pete Yorn and Josh Rouse – during an active music journalism career writing for the likes of Billboard, Rolling Stone, Spinner and American Songwriter. I’ve written two other books – one on Weezer that I wrote about a decade ago – and one for Backbeat’s FAQ series on U2 that came out in 2010. In that sense, I’d say I’m pretty qualified to write books.
As for Springsteen, I’ve been a devoted fan since October 1980 when I first heard the Boss on WPLJ as a seventh grader. I had been aware of him before that time, but I hadn’t really heard him. Between Christmas 1980 and Nebraska two years later, I was an ardent student. But from there I became a student of all things rock and roll and while I appreciated Bruce from afar, I didn’t get back into his clutches as an obsessive until 1999’s Reunion tour and the ’98 Tracks box consumed me.
I consider myself to be a big fan, but the handful of shows I’ve seen cannot compare to the likes of some. I have a friend from Westfield named Mitch Slater who has seen a staggering 235 shows since 1976. The guy has an encyclopedic knowledge of those shows. He’s like a Springsteen savant. I’m not in that league but I appreciate his devotion to Springsteen.
Keep reading this interview on Greasy Lake.
Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Boss investigates Springsteen’s superstar Born in the U.S.A. album and tour, the dissolution and reunion of the E Street Band, the legal wrangling that held up 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, the group’s postmillennium resurgence, the untimely passing of core band members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons, and more.
This indispensible read, packed with countless images of rare memorabilia, is a volume Springsteen fans will treasure.