U2 boss tells of hairy times in early days
By Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor
Friday May 11 2012
THE manager of rock band Spinal Tap kept a cricket bat handy to deal with trouble.
But U2 boss Paul McGuinness revealed last night how he once used his bare hands to eject a troublemaker “by the hair or in a headlock” from one of his band’s earliest gigs. The setting was the Project Arts Centre in Dublin in May 1978 when notorious gang the ‘Black Catholics’ attempted to disrupt one of U2’s first live shows.
“The Black Catholics were dedicated to breaking up other people’s gigs. I gained an early and completely undeserved reputation for physical violence by taking one of them out into the street beside the Project,” recounted Mr McGuinness as he launched an exhibition of early U2 photographs in Dublin last night.
Thankfully, the now ageing Black Catholics didn’t show up last night to disrupt the opening of ‘U2: 1978-81’ at the Little Museum of Dublin on Stephen’s Green.
However in attendance were many of Bono and Co’s long- standing friends including Virgin Prunes Gavin Friday and Guggi, venue owner Harry Crosbie, DJ Dave Fanning and presenter Lorraine Keane.
In his speech Mr Guinness recalled how one the first things he did for U2 was buy the underage teenagers “a round of drinks” on the night he agreed to manage them in the Project Art Centre on May 25, 1978.
It was the late ‘Hot Press’ journalist Bill Graham who had introduced Mr Guinness to the young U2.
“U2 tricked Bill into coming to one of their early rehearsals. They played him a few of their ‘own songs’ but Bill made them stop and said: ‘hang on, all these songs you’re playing are by the Ramones’.
“U2 said ‘Okay, you’re right, but we’re going to write some great songs’ and that’s what they have been doing ever since,” added Mr McGuinness.
Bono was an absentee from the opening as he celebrated his 52nd birthday in the US with his family, including daughter Jordan Hewson — who was celebrating her 23rd birthday yesterday.
Photographer Patrick Brocklebank, who took the 32 early photos of U2, revealed how he first heard the group on Dublin pirate radio station BIG D.
“They sounded pretty raw. Off stage Bono was a bit loose with his tongue, The Edge seemed like an academic, Adam was a lad around town, but one with a purpose, and Larry was just a schoolboy,” he said.
Indeed, the young Larry Mullen doesn’t appear in some of the photographs because he busy with schoolwork, with his place taken in the shots by Guggi, then a member of rival band The Virgin Prunes.
“Looking back it wasn’t so much U2’s music that impressed me. It was U2 as people,” said Guggi.
Limited edition prints from the exhibition are on sale at http://www.littlemuseum.ie.
‘U2 1978-81’ runs at the Little Museum of Dublin until September 1.
Matt McGee, @U2 Founder/Editor