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

Unsolved Mysteries, January 2011

By on January 18, 2011 in Unsolved Mysteries with 18 Comments

The manuscript for the second edition of U2 – A Diary is due in two weeks. Yikes! I still have some research and writing left to do, so here’s one last call for help with the remaining list of unsolved mysteries — most of which date back to before the first edition was published.

If you have info about any of these, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

1.) Mike Scott visits U2 in Dublin

In the 2007 book, Strange Boat – Mike Scott & The Waterboys, it’s mentioned that Mike Scott visited Bono in Dublin (in 1986, presumably):

Scott recalls visiting Bono in Dublin and playing him cuts of “Strange Boat” and hearing an early take of “Where the Streets Have No Name” in return.

It would be cool to at least get a month and year when that meeting happened. (UPDATE: With great thanks to Mike Scott himself (via his Twitter account and email), this has been solved and several other dates and facts have also been added to the 2nd edition. Thx Mike!)

2. 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)

3. Bono playing chess

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

4. 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.)

5. Mt. Temple Comprehensive opens

I would love to know the exact date that Mt. Temple opened in 1972. I know it was September of that year, but not even the school has been able to track down the exact date.

6. 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 a previous post, Anne linked 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.)

7. 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)

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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?

12. 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. (UPDATE: Thanks to Connie P.’s help, and contact with the man who produced the clip for WXRT-FM in Chicago, I’ve been able to confirm the exact date of this recording. Awesome!)

13. 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.

14. 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. (UPDATE: I’ve been able to confirm that a gig did happen at this venue, likely in late 1979, but don’t have anything more specific than that.)

15. 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. (UPDATE: With great thanks to John O., this has been confirmed as happening in December 1993. They went to Blackwell’s estate to celebrate the new year.)

16. 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 Bill Graham’s 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…. (UPDATE: Yes, both are correct. I understand that this happened on more than one occasion with the most serious happening at the Baggott Inn. Do not have a date.)

17. 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. Donal Murphy says:

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

    Came across this Matt:
    http://community.livejournal.com/u2/2352615.html

    Unfortunately the report is on the origins of “Silver & Gold”, and just mentions the song in passing. Many songs get written, but many also don’t get finished or recorded !

    Here an excerpt:

    “After humiliating himself in front of his heroes with his musical ignorance, Bono returned to his hotel room and immediately knocked out a couple of songs, inspired by the blues that had made such an impression on him. One tune called ‘This I’ve Got To Stop’ was never released, but the other was ‘Silver And Gold’ – Bono’s “desperate attempt to write a song that belonged to a tradition”. He wrote it in less than two hours while the sun came up, despite not having slept in days! (I know what that’s like, when you can’t sleep because your head’s full of lyric ideas, and you have to write it all down before you forget…) Early next morning he excitedly called Peter Wolf to tell him about the song, and asked if it was possible to contact Keith Richards and record it with him. Wolf thought it would be good for Keith to be involved in the Sun City project, so he put them in touch and they arranged a collaboration, with Ronnie Wood also on board. Bono says “I brought it to Keith Richards because I knew he would understand it – and he did.”

  2. Matt says:

    Thx Donal. That’s similar to what’s in the Mark Taylor book.

  3. Pete says:

    I don’t know in which Propaganda (probably one leading up to POP), but Edge’s cooking classes are mentioned (not by Howie B). It may have been on one of those questionaires that the band filled out in their own handwriting that was published.

  4. peter mciver says:

    Hey Matt,
    Ive just sent you an email re edges birth and the black catholics, upon futher reading the blcak catholics incidents occured at both the project arts centre and the baggot inn and also at a party where black catholics and lypton village people both attended. Its dated only to 1979. Aparantly after the Bagot inn gig Bono had had enough and hunted down the main offender. They wernt bothered by them again afterwards! I highly recomend U2 THE EARLY DAYS ( another time another plaace ) by BILL GRAHAM its full of gems and great early photo’s

  5. Chris says:

    Matt,

    On the Mike Scott, don’t know if you can triangulate a date for when Streets was first demoed and when it was done (is there a date for when Eno tried to wipe it? etc.). If you go to http://www.mikescottwaterboys.com click the discography and from there click Fisherman’s Blues, you should be able to click on “Complete Session List.” I seem to remember this being more detailed in a past incarnation, but what it tells you is that there were two master recordings of “Strange Boat” prior to Streets being released on JT 1987-03-09. Version 1 was recorded at Windmill Lane 8/23-29 1986. Version 2 isn’t recorded until 2/17-28 1987. And, version 3 (the album version) and later versions don’t come until May 1987 or later. The Waterboys were basically recording at Windmill Lane or touring Ireland between that first version’s recording and JT’s release in March 1987 with the exception of some studio time in California in December 1986. So barring some early super rough demo (starting in January 1986 for the Waterboys & the Fisherman’s Blues album, or November 1985 for JT), the meeting should fall between 1986-08-23 and the wrapping up the Joshua Tree in November 1986 (should be before then since it was “an early version” of Streets). If you said Fall 1986 you’d have that uncertainty pretty much encompassed ;)

  6. Neil says:

    http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2011/01/systematic-destruction-of-independent.html

    Thought this blog entry would interest you. Howie is a former San Francisco DJ, record executive and now lefty blogger who was one of the first US DJ’s to give U2 airplay in the US. Although I think the link at the bottom is not to the show that he refers to. In U2 Live he is given credit for a review of a show in San Jose the day before these pictures were taken.

  7. Katie P says:

    Bono versus Kasperov

    Hi Matt!
    I was going through my notes from 1993/94 about the Kasparov chess match Bono won at auction, though couldn’t find definite reports of it going ahead, just that it was due to happen `in September’.

    Found mention of Bono acknowledging his match against Kasparov, which Kasparov won. Bono mentions playing Kasparov at chess in a New Zealand interview, from December 1993.
    http://u2_interviews.tripod.com/id70.html

    Also in 1993, Ali had purchased a vasectomy voucher at a charity auction (though can not find what auction this was). Bono and Ali gave it away to an Irish woman, after hearing her on radio saying that she and her husband had enough kids but couldn’t afford a vasectomy. LOL!

  8. Katie P says:

    Matt,
    Scratch above. The interview goes on to say Bono hadn’t played Kasparov as of December 1993. His initial statement of playing K was a joke.

    Have to be quick to keep up with Bono.

  9. Donal Murphy says:

    1) Mike Scott visits U2 in Dublin.

    Great catch by Chris regarding the Waterboys recording sessions.

    I’m not sure do the dates add up though. Streets was worked on more than any other track on the Joshua Tree album, so this points to early 1986 when the first demos of the track were completed and the Joshua Tree Sessions commenced.I
    f you watch the “Classic Albums – U2 The Joshua Tree” DVD, the Edge plays a demo cassette which I understand was made prior to recordings commencing(around January 1986), which might go back to 1985.
    The first recording listing, of “Strange Boat” is August 1986, so I sould suspect the meeting referred to was much earlier than the last quarter of 1986.

  10. John says:

    11. I’m pretty sure that Howie B’s mentioning of the Edge’s cooking first appeared in the U2 cover issue of Spin in 1997 (or late 1996). I also recall that Edge told another publication that it was bogus sometime after that. I’m not sure which one it was…it may have been the Pop issue of Rolling Stone, or one of the many other magazines that featured them on the cover around this time. But the cooking story, from what I remember, is false.

  11. Chris says:

    Matt,

    Further on the Mike Scott – to remove the speculation, I believe this is the interviewer (per the book) and perhaps he knows the time frame?: http://twitter.com/eassie
    He’s interviewed Mike Scott several times for The Scotsman (and is actually following Scott on twitter).

  12. Matt says:

    @Pete – thx for the idea. Just scanned the old Props from that era and did find a few of those band Q&A things, but no mentions of Edge cooking.

    @Peter — yes, thank you. I’ve read Graham’s book and that’s actually what I meant to refer to in the blog post. Don’t know why I wrote John Waters’ name.

    @Neil – thank you, nice find. What’s your last name so I can credit you in the acknowledgments?

    @KatieP – thx for trying. I don’t think it ever happened.

    @Chris/@Donal – I think I’d need something more concrete about that Mike Scott meeting to feel confident putting it in the book. I do appreciate the links and info, just doesn’t seem conclusive enough. Chris – that guy on Twitter has only posted twice in the past 13 months. Ack!

    @John – thx for that. Seems very possible that it was a joke.

  13. Sean O'Kane says:

    #5 Mount Temple

    The Irish academic year traditionally starts around late August/early September so it could have opened around then. It’s very unlikely it would have opened midway through a school year as that would be quite disruptive but it may be possible that the school could have opened earlier for parents to view prior to admission.

    So, an educated guess would be mid summer-early Autumn 1972.

  14. Sean O'Kane says:

    Sorry should have made one bit clearer:

    “It’s very unlikely it would have opened midway through a school year (i.e. the 1971-2 academic year) as that would be quite disruptive….etc

  15. Matt says:

    Thx Sean – it was definitely September of 1972, but not even the school itself was able to provide an exact date.

    All reading these comment updates — I’ve added several updates to the blog post itself, including solving the first mystery listed in this post. Thx to all who have helped!

  16. peter mciver says:

    Hey Matt,
    Did you ever get my email re Edges birth? As you still have the wrong date up here. He was born 8th august 1961 in a maternity hospital in Barking, on the eastern fringe of London. ( as quoted in U2 BY U2 )

    Good luck with everything!
    Cheers
    Peter.

  17. Matt says:

    Peter – if you re-read the post, I’m asking about Dick Evans’ birthday. Edge’s older brother, who was in the band for the first 16-18 months or so.

  18. peter mciver says:

    OMG. How embarrassing…sorry Matt..i thought it was odd to get edges bday wrong. I swear im becoming dyslexic in my old age. A thousand apologies Matt! :(

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