A day-by-day history of U2, now in its second edition.

Unsolved Mysteries, December 2010

By on December 5, 2010 in Unsolved Mysteries with 19 Comments

In a little less than two months, I’ll be submitting the manuscript for the second edition of U2 – A Diary. There will also be a section of updates/corrections to the material in the first book, which gives me a chance to fix things I got wrong and add things that I missed.

Here are almost 20 “unsolved mysteries” — some of which are in the first edition, but without as much exact information as I’d like, and some that are so mysterious that I wasn’t able to include them at all. If you have info about any of these, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

1. The “Pride” death threat against Bono

There’s an old NME article that says it happened during The Unforgettable Fire Tour. But in U2 by U2, the band says it happened during The Joshua Tree tour. I’ve written about this unsolved mystery twice: When Did Adam Stand in Front of Bono during “Pride”? and In the News: The Pride/Bono Death Threat Story.

Sony-JT ad2. Joshua Tree unauthorized ad

Sometime after The Joshua Tree came out, Sony put the advertisement at right in some Irish/UK music papers. Sony never asked permission and U2 forced them to pull the ad quickly. I’d like to get at least the month in which this started appearing. (original discussion) (UPDATE: Solved in comments below, thx to Donal’s research!)

3. Hot Press 1979/1980 Awards

There are many articles online that reference the fact that U2 “swept the competition”, winning five awards in the 1979 Hot Press Reader’s Poll — which would’ve been published in January, 1980. But I can find no record of what those five awards are. (original discussion) (UPDATE: This one is solved, thanks again to Donal M.!)

4. STREETS commercial offer

Still don’t have a date for the famous “$23 million offer for ‘Streets’” story that I mentioned in this post. Probably never will get that answer. (original discussion)

5. Bono playing chess

Did Bono and Garry Kasparov ever have the chess match they were supposed to have in 1993? (original discussion)

6. Dick Evans birth

I know Dick Evans was born in 1959, but have no idea where. (UPDATE: Thanks to Cathy S., I’ve narrowed this down to early 1959 in East London, but still don’t have exact date or hospital/location.)

7. Mt. Temple Comprehensive opens

I would love to know the exact date that Mt. Temple opened in 1972.

8. Clarence Hotel purchase

I would love to know the exact date that Bono and Edge (with Harry Crosbie) purchased the Clarence Hotel? It’s listed in the first edition of the book as November, 1992, but I’d love an exact date. (original discussion) (UPDATE: In the comments, Anne links to a story about the purchase from September 1992, so that helps get more accurate. But an exact date would be still be great to know.)

9. Bono, Ali, & Horse Races

Which year did Bono go to Cork with Ali and her family, bet on a horse race, and win big to help a friend pay for his wedding? The story is told in Michka Assayas’ book, but no date is given. (original discussion)

10. Buying Trabants

Pg. 31-32 of U2 At the End of the World (UK hardback edition) talks about Paul McGuinness going to Eastern Europe to buy the Trabants for Zoo TV. This had to be sometime in 1991, but I’d like to at least narrow it down to a specific month if possible.

11. Polygram dinner

Pg. 35 of U2 At the End of the World (UK hardback edition) talks about a dinner meeting they had with Alain Levy, the top dog at Polygram. Would be nice to have a date on this.

12. Song called “This I’ve Got To Stop”

U2 by Mark Taylor says Bono wrote two songs in October, 1985, when he was doing the Sun City stuff — “Silver and Gold” and a tune called “This I’ve Got To Stop.” I’ve found no other info on the second song.

13. Edge’s cooking classes

On pg. 105 of The U2 Reader by Hank Bordowitz, Howie B makes a comment about Edge attending cooking classes “every Monday at 4 o’clock.” This would’ve been in August, 1996, during the Pop recording sessions. I’d love to know if Edge really took cooking classes, or was Howie B just making a flip comment?

14. Driving To Midnight Mass

I’ve never been able to find out when Bono recorded the “Driving to Midnight Mass” poem. In an old OTR column on @U2, I wrote that it was recorded around 1983/1984 for a Chicago radio station, but at the moment I have no idea where I figured that out.

15. Island Records party

Here’s a photoset on Wire Image of an Island Records party for U2 that has a date of September 9, 1980 — but U2 was on tour in the UK on that date, so I have no idea when it was.

16. Early unknown gig

In this old article, a guy named Charlie Rafferty mentions seeing a U2/Virgin Prunes gig at St. Brigid’s Hall in Finglas. There’s no record of that show anywhere from what I can tell.

17. Adam visits Goldeneye

Sometime in 1993, Adam went to Chris Blackwell’s “Goldeneye” property with Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Kate Moss. I can’t link to the article that mentions this because it’s behind a subscribers-only wall. But no date is given, and no mention of how long they were there. Could be anytime.

18. Early unknown gig

At an early U2 gig, a group of punks called the “Black Catholics” attacked U2 while the band was performing. There are different versions of the story. In Bill Flanagan’s book, it happened during a gig at the Project Arts Centre. In John Waters’ book, it happened at the Baggot Inn. Neither one gives anything close to a date, not even a year. Maybe it happened at both gigs and they’re both correct….

19. Jesse Jackson for President

According to this interview, which took place in January 1989, U2/Bono was asked to endorse Jesse Jackson at some point in 1988. I can’t find anything more on that.

Replies are welcome in the comments if you know anything about these unsolved mysteries!

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  1. Sean O'Kane says:

    Hi Matt

    I’ve heard a different date for #14 – possibly 1979/80. I haven’t anything to back this up except that the title was mentioned in something I read (perhaps sleeve notes on a boot or an article) back in the 80s in reference to titles of early songs like ‘Street Mission’, ‘The Fool’ etc. I think it was linked in with these other early songs.

    In fact….I may be wrong but ‘The Complete U2 Encylopedia’ also suggests this too.

    Hope this helps

    Sean

  2. Sean O'Kane says:

    Ooops….one other important detail. It was recorded for RTE Radio.

  3. Matt says:

    Hey Sean — thank you. I’m looking at “Complete Encyclopedia” and it doesn’t say anything about a date for Driving to Midnight Mass.

    The Driving to Midnight Mass bootleg has the poem and then about 5-6 songs from The Hype/early U2 days, 1978-1979. That may be why some have said the recital was recorded at that time. But, “New Year’s Day” plays underneath Bono’s voice and is part of the overall production, so it had to be at least 1982/1983.

  4. Joe says:

    http://www.atu2.com/news/superfly.html

    The above article says it was Willie Williams who went looking for trabants…I assume in the Spring of ’91. The flow of the article suggests that dinner with Levy followed soon thereafter. Not specific, I know.

  5. Matt says:

    Thx Joe – there’s actually a video (from ABC In Concert, as I recall) that shows Paul McG. at the trabant factory in East Germany or wherever it was.

  6. Sean O'Kane says:

    Hi Matt

    You know I’ve never heard the track so I bow to your superior knowledge on this one. However (and this may muddy the waters even more) there are those who believe the use of NYD in the background was a sneaky bootlegger’s gimmick to create a ‘new’ fake U2 track based on the Bono reading. An ‘outfake’ as it were.

    Again, I don’t know it so that may be also be pure myth!

    Sean

  7. Andrew says:

    #21 When did u2 play tyhe Left Bank in New Rochelle Ny, had to be very early December 1st or 2nd visit to US

  8. annecat says:

    Hello old friend Matt!

    On the Clarence, I found this link (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,311885,00.html), which would indicate it actually happened before November. I will keep looking.

    Anne

  9. Brian says:

    #14, u2wanderer.org has it listed as 12-31-1983 for Dublin radio. Might want to ask them where they’re getting their info.

  10. Lance A. Schart says:

    Matt, it’s seems possible that IF “Driving To Midnight Mass” was recorded in Chicago, it would have been for WXRT 93.1 fm. Moreover, it would most likely have been for Terri Hemmert, WXRT’s longest tenured DJ that was one of U2′s earliest radio advocates. Terry used to be the morning DJ for WXRT during the timeframe you believe the recording was made. She is also one of the Epilogue writers in Alan Carter’s first book (and may have been referenced somewhere in U2: At the end of the world).

    You could either contact WXRT (Terry keeps a blog and a Facebook page) or Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches music industry-related coureses. She LOVES to talk music history -especially if she was involved!

    The piano intro to the extended mix of New Year’s Day and “Endless Deep” are mixed together, embedded “behind” Bono’s vocal, which certainly date the recording to 1983-1984. (FYI, I may have two copies of this; one from the cassette bootleg mentioned above that is -I believe- a radio show recording, and one stand-alone recording of just the poem. Please let me know if you’d like me to check the audio.)

  11. Caroline says:

    I thought the Edge in cooking classes thing was Howie messing around with the reporter in an interview for Spin magazine. I vaguely remember U2 saying something about it not being true when asked about it later, but I can’t remember where that was.

  12. Neil says:

    Im currently reading Killing Bono. Neil seems to have been at many moments in their early career, and thus was doing reporting for Hot Press so he would know/have record of many early gigs/occurances.. maybe worth asking him on his blog or some such for anything requiring questions..?

    Regarding 18.. i ‘think’ i recall reading about this, backtracking now to see if i can find it. (I may be mixed up with some other stage attack or somesuch – maybe at one of Neil’s gigs.) On page 121, he mentions that he last saw U2 play a secret gig at the Project Arts Center in July (1980). If that is the venue where the attack occured, then that might be the date/month.

  13. RPW says:

    I know it’s only words on an internet message board, but here’s someone claiming to have been a member of the Black Catholics and contending that it wasn’t their band that actually attacked Bono/U2:

    http://thumped.com/bbs/showthread.php?28380-Black-Catholics/page6

    Also, in the comments on this post there’s a list of Dandelion Market gigs in 1979/1980, though some of the dates clash with supposedly already known U2 dates, I think:

    http://irvken.net/blog/?p=187

  14. rupert says:

    Re #18: Both locations would seem to be correct according to Bill Graham in U2 The Early Days, pages 31-32. After describing the Black Catholics and explaining why they disliked U2 (they were middle-class, ambitious and ‘Protestant bastards’), Graham writes: “The first reckoning came in September [1979] when the band supported punk troubadour Patrick Fitzgerald for two nights at the Project Arts Centre. Cider was flung at Adam. About twenty punks threatened an invasion as Bono took off his shoe to ward them off the low stage before they were evicted. [The book has a picture of this, with Bono clutching his Cuban heel defensively]. The next night, a group of the Black Catholics appeared, drunk after a cider party. They would claim they intended no disruption but at the first hint of trouble, the reinforced Project security were in no mood to be conciliatory. They ejected the gang after a bruising tussle in the foyer with Paul McGuinness to the fore, dragging out one of the offenders by the hair. It was hardly Altamont – the Black Catholics were more mouth than muscle – but don’t ever believe the young U2 were unamimously hailed in Dublin. The feud continued. Another night after a row at the party of a punkette who knew both the Black Catholic and Lypton Village factions, Guggi’s van was wrecked. Then, at the Baggot Inn, a Black Catholic threw beer glasses at the band and was frog-marched out. Bono’s patience was at an end. Totally steamed up, he marched down Cedarwood Road to the offender’s house and confronted his father. All round the neighborhood he went looking for his antagonist. Finally he faced him down and by Bono’s account, his opponent cut and ran. Whatever, the Black Catholics didn’t trouble U2 again.”

  15. Matt says:

    Thank you all for the replies, much appreciated.

    @Anne – thank you for that EW article link. Interesting find.

    @Lance – if you have two recordings, and either one helps place a date, I’d love to know. The Midnight Mass audio that I have includes Bono giving an introduction, but he doesn’t say when/where/etc. he is. Will contact Terri, too, thanks for the idea.

  16. Donal Murphy says:

    Re:
    2. Joshua Tree unauthorized ad

    Matt, I recently got some old stuff from my brother in laws garage. I got a call from him to get this stuff shifted or they would be thrown out ! As they have been there for a few years this was not a problem. Iknew there were old issues of Hotpress there since before U2 Diary 1st edition came out, but didn’t mention it to you as I knew this would mean clearing out this stuff which I was trying to avoid.

    Included in the contents are over 400 issues of Hotpress from the late 1980′s to the mid 1990′s.

    I am currently looking at an issue dated August 11th 1988, it has a picture of Michael Jackson on the front cover. On the inside back cover (page 42)is the very advertisement you refer to !

    I have some(but not all) of the other issues of Hotpress from 1988 and 1989, and this is the only issue I have, that has this advertisement, so it’s fairly clear that this was the first and last time the advert appeared in Hotpress.

    Mystery solved !!!!

  17. Donal Murphy says:

    Matt,

    Hotpress have an online catalog of all their front covers. This is the one which featured the Sony Walkman/U2 Joshua Tree advertisement:

    http://www.hotpress.com/photos/photo_st.php?id=5050277&idx=14

  18. Matt says:

    Awesome – thx Donal!! Definitely can use this.

  19. Donal Murphy says:

    Re 3. Hot Press 1979/1980 Awards

    Hotpress have confirmed to me the 5 awards were:

    Best Irish Group

    Best Irish Based Group

    Best Irish Live Act

    Most Promising Irish Act

    Irish Single: “U23″ U-2 (CBS)

    This appeared on this issue:
    http://www.hotpress.com/photos/photo_st.php?id=4993003&idx=15

    Mystery Solved !!

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