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When Did Adam Stand in Front of Bono during ‘Pride’?

By on December 15, 2007 in Call for Help with 8 Comments

I presume you know the story about Bono getting a death threat from someone who promised to shoot him during a gig as U2 played “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. I’ve always been under the impression that was during the Joshua Tree tour. There was a discussion about this incident on one of the mailing lists recently, but no one had any firm evidence pointing to a specific date.

Well, I just found this old NME article which might be the first time the story was ever told:

There was one notably frightening occurrence when touring The Unforgettable Fire across the southern states of the U.S. This meant playing “Pride (In the Name of Love)” in cities that had been segregated a mere two decades previous, cities harboring more than their unreasonable share of loose-nut white supremacists.

(Bono talking:) “There was a guy who said if we played that song, that was it, he was gonna take us out. He got organised, he got in touch and said, ‘Don’t do it. If you do, we’ve got people there.’ The FBI, or whoever, were taking it very seriously. I remember singing the tune, thinking, ‘Oh, this is interesting.’ But I was fine about it, no problem. Then after the show, Paul (McGuinness, manager) came backstage and said, ‘Um, look, it’s actually the second night he said he was going to do it.’ So I had to do it all again, and not to be melodramatic about it, but I was a little freaked. I didn’t even look at the crowd. And when it was finished and I looked up, I saw Adam was standing in front of me for the whole thing! I mean, Adam’s so posh, right? He’s not grown up with any sense of the street, but I have to say when it comes to digging me out of a few situations he’s there.”

So, now we know it could be either the Unforgettable Fire tour or the Joshua Tree tour. And we know it was in a city in the southern U.S. where U2 was playing two shows. That limits the choices to:

May 3-4, 1985: Fort Lauderdale, FL
April 2-4, 1987: Tempe, AZ
April 7-8, 1987: Houston, TX
November 23-24, 1987: Fort Worth, TX
December 8-9, 1987: Atlanta, GA

Tempe, AZ, isn’t considered the “south,” but one of the people on the mailing list was sure it was those first couple shows of the Joshua Tree tour. If the quote above is correct, and it was on the Unforgettable Fire tour, Fort Lauderdale is the only city in the south that U2 played twice.

Anyone have information that would help get to the exact date this happened?

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  1. In the News: The Pride/Bono Death Threat Story - U2Diary.com | January 18, 2010
  1. Gyuri says:

    Hi! Maybe I can help you on this; my english sucks but I try to explain :] So I’m sure that this case happened on the last shows of the Joshua Tree tour, on 19th and/or 20th December, 1987, when U2 played two gigs in the Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe. I’ve just read in U2byU2 a comment by Bono that the band got involved in the local politics in Tempe in April (1987), when the third leg of the JT tour started, and later, when they returned there in December, Bono got that serious death threat right before the shows…

  2. Beth says:

    You’ve taken this into account already I’m sure, but Tempe being the occasion of the whole Gov. Meacham/ MLK-holiday conflict (and the fact U2 were in town for a week rehearsing)would have raised the profile of U2 and “Pride” in the media in connection with that concert – which might make it more likely that someone unstable and anti-King would hear about them and have time to come up with the idea of a violent action during “Pride.”

    But, of course, this is purely talking out of my hat!

    And as you say, Tempe isn’t the south, anyway.

  3. Krista says:

    Hi, my friend and I were looking through the U2 By U2 book, and we happened to find that part.

    The performance was in Tempe, Arizona. (I’m sure this is right, as it’s written by U2!)

    I can’t believe he did that! And I can’t believe he still sang it. Wow.

    Anywho, fantastic song, awesome band!

  4. Lisa says:

    In the book “Bono in Conversation” by Michka Assayas, Bono mentions the death threat and how he got through it. He said that he had a momentary thought: What if someone really is out there with a gun? So he closed his eyes and kept singing and when he opened his eyes, Adam was there in front of him.

    I was really touched by this. Bono has the guts to ignore the death threat and stand up for his beliefs, and Adam is willing to give his life for his friend? It’s such a beautiful, touching thing to have people like them out in the world. ♥

  5. jason says:

    the incident was durig te joshua tree tour it was all over the music press in 87

  6. Diane says:

    I recently watched U2’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bono mentions this event and indicated that when he opened his eyes their was Adam holding his bass like only he can hold it. He acknowledged that Adam was willing to take a bullet for him. What beautiful human beings and incredible musicians!

  7. Gavin Galt says:

    This is a delayed response but i just came across it. I was at the December 19, 1987 concert in Tempe at Sun Devil Stadium…floor seats! Adam did not stand in front of Bono that night.
    Also. Arizona is NOT considered part of “the South”

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