- 22 Aug 01
Neil McCormick, a friend of U2 in their earliest days, who, as a writer, has closely monitored their progress since then, analyses Eamon Dunphy's much-touted 'authorised' biography "Unforgettable Fire" – and can't quite believe what he reads
In Autumn 1976, my younger brother Ivan, then a 2nd year pupil in Mount Temple Comprehensive School, was the proud possessor of a Teisco Strat copy electric guitar. He was asked by Peter Martin, a pupil from the year ahead, to bring his guitar along to a meeting in Peter's friend Larry Mullen's house. They were thinking of forming a group. Larry had put a note up on the school notice-board about it. Peter had an expensive guitar and amp but couldn't play. He was going to be manager.
On the big day, four other Mount Temple pupils came along, Paul Hewson, Adam Clayton, Dave and Dick Evans. All crowded into the Mullens' kitchen to discuss music. Names like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac were bandied about. The meeting ended with a chaotic jam session. Nobody really knew what was going on - there were too many guitarists, not enough amplification and no concensus as to the correct sequences of the songs being played.
Ivan attended a couple more rehearsals, which were held in a Mount Temple classroom. Paul Hewson quickly took things over and began organising everyone, playing little himself but expending considerable energy attempting to almost magically summon, cajole and exhort music from the others' instruments. lvan remembers an almost endless jam of "Smoke On The Water", a song he was hearing for the first time.
At 14 he was the youngest person present and was way out of his depth. He was tolerated at first however because of his guitar, which Dave Evans would liberate him of for the duration of the rehearsals, leaving Ivan to strum almost inaudibly on Dave's cheap acoustic. Peter Martin was quickly phased out and Ivan bought his amplifier from him.
The evening he arrived home with his proud new purchase, Adam rang him. He wanted to know if Ivan had bought Peter's amp because of the group. When Ivan replied in the affirmative Adam, improvising wildly, told him the band had got this gig in a pub but Ivan wouldn't be able to play because he was too young to get in. Even at 14, Ivan knew when he was being given the elbow, however diplomatically. (Dick Evans, at 17 the eldest of the would-be rock stars, was apparently not so sensitive and resisted repeated attempts to case him out of the fledgling band with too many guitartists, simply by continuing to attend rehearsals until he had established himself as a member).
The band, of course, became U2 (when Dick was finally -amicably - phased out) and the rest is, if not quite history, at least the makings of a best-selling biography...
Ivan’s role in the U2 story is not, as we have seen, a major one, though his recollections provide telling insights in their own way: into the leadership qualities of Bono's character, in an image of The Edge that is perhaps not quite as meek and mild mannered as is often suggested, in Adam's early display of managerial diplomacy. Any hurt Ivan felt was soon forgotten and relationships patched up when he formed his own group (with me and Frank Kearns, now of Cactus World News) which the young U2 generously helped out, extending loans of equipment, rehearsal rooms, support slots, advice. The Edge wrote out the chords to The Ramones' "Shock Treatment" for us - though we later discovered he had them in completely the wrong order, thus throwing an interesting slant on the oft-remarked originality of his guitar playing.
Larry sat in on drums for one gig (though, considering himself a pro compared to us, he refrained from attending any rehearsals, resulting in an even more excessively chaotic performance than usual, with the drums starting and ending at least a bar behind everything else). Not all their help was so altruistic: Adam, easily the most pragmatic member, off-loaded his cheap Ibanez-copy bass on me at the inflated price of £70 by preying upon my ignorance (and my unwillingness to admit it). "It's got good action," he murmured nonchalantly, plonking out a riff. "Yeah, it sure has," I agreed, wondering what and where the action was and if there was a switch to control it.
Ivan recalls his early involvement with the boys-who-would- be-Rolling Stone's band-of-the-80's with amusement. It has provided him with the opportunity to cap acquaintances' eulogies of the band with an off-hand "Yeah, I was in the original line-up." He can no longer claim this with any authority however. But I can.
In Eamon Dunphy's "Unforgettable Fire: The Story Of U2", he recounts how, at that first meeting, "Paul Hewson had turned up with another Mount Temple pupil, Neil McCormick, who, like everyone else present except Larry, fancied being lead guitarist in the new group." I'm flattered to be in a best seller. I'm mentioned on three separate occasions - an interview I conducted and an album review I wrote are quoted from (accurately). But each mention harkens back to that first, fateful band meeting.
Well, let me put the record straight. I did not fancy being lead guitarist. It would be strange if I had. I wasn't there, I didn't even own a guitar and much less play one. A minor, minor detail in the grand U2 design perhaps, but let's not stop there. Ivan was certainly under no illusions about being a lead guitarist, he simply wanted to be involved. Similarly Peter Martin, who is not mentioned in the book, could not have coveted any role since he had not yet even mastered the basics of his instrument. And it would appear highly unlikely that Adam, who arrived with his bass guitar slung over his shoulder, would have been entertaining any thought of playing lead. That leaves Paul, Dave and Dick, not quite 'everyone else present.' The statement is extraneous and inaccurate, like so much else in this ill-conceived book, one of a succession of minor fallacies, which cumulatively throw the entire project distinctly off-centre.
Dunphy continues his account of that first meeting by listing the bands and music discussed. Bowie, The Stones, David Essex, The Sweet, Elvis, Rory Gallagher, The Beatles and more are listed. "And of course the punks," Dunphy writes. This was a bunch of young, suburban Dubliners in Autumn '76. The Sex Pistols had yet to release a record. Punk had only a low profile in England and it certainly did not raise its snarling head in Larry's kitchen. Early set lists included Bay City Rollers songs - it was still a long way from Anarchy in Artane.
The musical tastes listed - far more tasteful than accurate I fear - were apparently agreed by the main protagonists, while I did not express "any contrary preferences". (Hardly surprising under the circumstances). "The first meeting," Dunphy continues, "revealed important truths. Larry and Dave could play. Paul and Adam were less accomplished. Dick could play... Neil decided to bale out."
In truth, unfortunately truth not being quite as succinct as fiction, nothing of the sort was revealed at the first meeting. It took a long time for the various abilities of the principals to emerge, Adam in particular bluffing everyone out with his equipment and his jargon. Adam's musical bluff is part of the U2 story, an integral part, a vital part. But it is not part of this U2 Story.
''UNFORGETTABLE FIRE" is an impressive looking tome. With its elegant cover and quality printing, this officially sanctioned biography of one of the most important, exciting, influential and successful rock acts of our time has the appearance and presentation of a major work. It was not written by some blindly enthusiastic fan nor an anonymous hack but by an established and (sometimes) respected journalist, famous in his and U2's native land - albeit in the field of sports commentary, far removed from the world of music. In the context I approached this book with anticipation but read it with growing disappointment and dismay.
From my vantage point, as a friend and early fan and supporter of the band, I was faced with inaccuracy at the kind of level I have just pointed out - in every chapter where I was personally acquainted with the truth. I filled 18 pages of a small notebook with Dunphy's errors, misrepresentations, misunderstandings and misinformed comment.
Often they are small things, barely worth commenting on in isolation: Bono's small community of friends, many of whom went on to form The Virgin Prunes, was actually known as Lypton Village and not simply The Village, as Dunphy reports (why they chose to call themselves Lypton Village is another story, though I clearly recall Bono turning up in school with a Lypton Village badge, which he claimed had mysteriously appeared on his jacket during the night). Similarly The Edge was named just that by members of Lypton Village, and not simply Edge as Dunphy informs us - in fact for a long while he would be addressed teasingly as The Edge, as if that were his whole Christian name, as in "Pass the salt The Edge if you don't mind." (And, on the subject of names, no mention is made of the fact that the young Paul Hewson was not at all happy with the appellation Bono Vox that Guggi landed him with, and didn't really come to terms with it until he discovered it was pidgin Latin for Good Voice).
Bill Graham was in the same year as Bob Geldof in Blackrock College, not the year ahead of him. Niall and Dermot Stokes went to Synge Street CBS and not Terenure College. They did not start Scene magazine - it was already in existence when they worked for it, purely as hired hands. Hot Press was Niall's venture, not a joint Stokes brothers project. Simple facts, all easily checked, all reported inaccurately in Dunphy's book - begging the question why? Why include a mention of where somebody went to school in the first place? Presumably any background material is meant to provide insight into their character, some kind of sociological comment on them for anyone who understands the area of reference. For Niall and Dermot, school is virtually the only background material Dunphy supplies. It stands out, handpicked from their lives, ostensibly illuminating them in some way for the reader. But there is a world of difference between the privilege of Terenure College and the tough, essentially working class, Christian Brothers discipline of Synge Street. Thus, Eamon Dunphy not only insults the people involved, he throws an entirely false light on the picture, with a simple fact that, if he was not certain of it, he need never have included in the first place. It suggests a lack of knowledge, a lack of research - and ultimately a lack of care - which together are at the heart of this book's gross inadequacies.
The pettiness of each of these errors does not mean that they can he simply disregarded. The truth is that they combine to distort the big picture. Dunphy comments on Larry that "the cool, leather-clad look he cultivated set him apart from the adolescent pseudo- sophisticates who occupied much territory in Mount Temple." Larry was a schoolboy, as gauche as any other, if already strikingly good looking. I have photos of Larry bearing no resemblance whatsoever to James Dean. It would be almost the mid-80s before the cool, leather-clad look made its first appearance.
We are informed that for the band's second live appearance "word of mouth around the Northside ensured a good crowd... The talk was of a new band that was going places." What talk? They were a support band for Chrissakes, whose only previous appearance had been playing Bay City Rollers songs (and not as Dunphy reports "a parody of the Bay City Rollers") at a school talent contest. Nobody, went to see them, they went to see the headliners, a Northside R'n'B band whose name I can't recall and whose presence Dunphy fails to even acknowledge.
The way he writes it, the crowd was won over by Bono's 'bleeding passion'. He fails to recount that on this particular occasion the band, then trading as The Hype, played an exceedingly ramshackle version of The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin" featuring my sister Stella and her hippy friend Orla Dunne on backing vocals and flute, with Bono holding his mike up to them because theirs broke down half way through. "They'd had all kinds of bands at St Fintan's," Dunphy writes, "but never one like The Hype." For once he may be right, though for all the wrong reasons. (According to Bono the two backing girls thought the band could be good apart from him and tried to persuade The Edge to kick him out. My sister, however, denies this. She says she never thought they could be good).
There are more errors: the role of Jackie Hayden (then Marketing Manager of CBS Ireland) in the release and promotion of U2's first single is entirely undervalued, his marketing ideas being exclusively credited to Paul McGuinness and lan Wilson. Dunphy also fails, to mention that that single was actually recorded as a demo, a vital piece of information not just from a musical standpoint but also in the chronology of their efforts to secure a deal and their rejection by CBS. On another subject entirely, and one on which he should at least be on more familiar ground, Dunphy gets the date of Bloody Sunday wrong, locating that fateful and murderous episode in 1971 rather than 1972.
And there are absurdly inaccurate anecdotes, such as Bono's supposed run -in with The Stranglers when U2 supported them at the Top Hat Ballroom. As Dunphy recounts it, Bono burst into their dressing room to find them indulging in various rock'n'roll vices (the worst of which seem to be 'sprawling around' and 'drinking wine').
" 'Fuck you,' Bono raged (writes Dunphy), 'I thought it was about no fucking heroes.' 'What's the problem, man, help yourself,' a mocking Strangler offered. 'Stick it up your arse,' Bono raged as he banged the door behind him." That's an awful lot of rage for a support band depending on the goodwill of the headliners.
In truth, Bono merely spent some time fruitlessly trying to persuade Stranglers' leader Hugh Cornwell to wear a U2 badge on stage, using the "No More Heroes" line to apply pressure. The presentation of this scene in the book is simply laughable.
The catalogue of errors piles up until it's impossible to see beyond it. If what I know firsthand is so inaccurately represented (and these are not all the errors of which I'm aware, not by a long shot), then I can have no faith in any of the rest of Dunphy's storytelling. There is simply nothing I can take at face value in this book.
Dunphy’s not only guilty of outrageous inaccuracy, he is also grossly ill-informed on the subject that should be at the story's core: music. His lack of understanding of what he is writing about leads him not only to make major mistakes in detail but also, crucially, in the spirit of what he is writing. It is there in the recounting of the St Fintan's gig, in The Stranglers' anecdote and in the whole of Chapter 5 of this book, The Punk.
Sometime in Autumn '77 Bono came into school with a tight haircut, snappy sixties-style clothes and wearing a chain that stretched from an car-ring to a safety pin in his mouth. He caused a minor riot in the school corridors, as young kids burst into tears and ran away from him. His girlfriend, Ali, would not go near him and broke off their romance (to be patched up later in the day). Teachers were not amused. But Bono was. In the prefects' room (neither of us were prefects, but it was a place to hang out), he winked at me and removed the safety pin, demonstrating how you didn't actually have to pierce your cheek to keep it in place. He seemed mightily pleased with the response his appearance had provoked.
"Unforgettable Fire" misses the humorous element to this anecdote, as well as misplacing it entirely. For a start Dunphy reports it as occurring in Autumn '76, a whole year out. If Paul Hewson was a punk in '76, he'd have been virtually the first punk in Ireland. But the fact is that Bono was never a punk. He played at it for a day or so, certainly brought elements of its vision to his music, and observed it all with fascination. (I remember him coming in raving about bands he'd seen on The Old Grey Whistle Test, knocked out by how The Jam had moved like jerky silent movie stars). But the safety pin and chain never made another appearance. Bono and his band became part of a new wave, but Dunphy doesn't understand this distinction because he doesn't understand punk.
His essay on its origins reads like schoolboy sociology, treating it as a political movement instead of a sporadic and spontaneous musical phenomenon. Sid Vicious is elevated to the same level as Johnny Rotten, the same mistake that was made by the tabloids and the second generation punks on the basis of his name and his death - but Dunphy is writing of punk's origins and Vicious had no relevance there. He writes of punk being for the disenfranchised who "drifted on a sea of concrete." The equation is: bulldozers + urban ghettos + tower blocks = Punk Rock. Dunphy simply has no level of musical insight to see through the almost comically simplistic imagery that punk built around itself. "Good Golly Miss Molly!", Dunphy writes, "Punk was a disgusting, disgusted, anarchic kick in the balls for all those who didn't live on Concrete Way." That may be the way it seemed to a sports correspondent but, 10 years on no music magazine would publish such a cringe-inducingly juvenile assessment of the phenomenon, except perhaps Smash Hits - as a joke.
Dunphy's misplacing of the punk incident makes a fallacy of U2's musical development. If Bono had discovered punk prior to joining the band, what would he have been doing singing Peter Frampton's "Show Me The Way" and other aforementioned delights from the band's early sets? But there is no sense of musical development in this book, no reflection of the shift from covering The Moody Blues to covering David Bowie's "Suffragette City", and from there to "Anarchy In The UK" (always a ludicrous song for a Dublin band to play). There is no mention of the first, live-in-Mount-Temple-rehearsal-room demo they recorded of a (now forgotten by the band) slightly countryish song. No analysis of their early numbers: "Street Mission" - a rock epic of spiritual longing that would end their sets - "Life On A Distant Planet", "The Fool", "Cartoon World", "Speed Of Life", "Concentration Cramp", "So Sad", "In Your Hands" - songs in which they first got to grips with their music and Bono defined the two characters that would dominate his early lyrics, The Boy and The Fool (only one of whom ever made it onto vinyl).
Edge's originality as a guitarist is often mentioned but nowhere defined. Its roots are never traced - clearly because Eamon Dunphy doesn't really have a clue whether he's original or not. Similarly Bono is always dominating the stage but Dunphy never paints a clear picture of his evolving stagecraft. Bono was exciting in those early days, always trying out new routines like his Boy In A Box act, where he would mime opening a box to find himself in another, then another, then another... talking all the time, agitatedly, about this predicament. Bono gabbed constantly, over and between songs, never knowing when to shut up: his current stage persona is virtually reserved in comparison.
The reality, of course, is that Dunphy fails to trace U2's development simply because he has no grounding with which to understand or comprehend it. His incidental comments on music are always absurdly misinformed - thus Manchester's Buzzcocks become 'another local band'; The Atrix have the 'The' removed from their name, thus robbing it of its theatrical pun; Television become 'one of the better punk groups'; Stone The Crows' Les Harvey becomes 'father of the famous blues musician, Alex' (there's little likelihood of a paternity suit given that both of them are dead but Alex is probably turning in his grave right now at the thought of his Brechtian theatrics being described as 'blues').
Dunphy's musical ignorance results in farce at times, as he recounts anecdotes which he patently does not understand. Much fuss is made at one stage of an incident in The Baggot Inn during a sound check: "Normally the monitors on stage, the sound boxes, were turned towards the audience. Here Bono, Edge and Adam had reversed the process, turning the monitors towards themselves. Larry wanted his turned as well."
The anecdote is meant to reflect U2's constantly questing minds - they took nothing for granted. Unfortunately for Dunphy, monitors are exactly what their name suggests, they monitor the sound for the band. They are, of necessity, pointed away from the audience, towards the group. Only an idiot would set them up otherwise. U2's innovation could be claimed by (and must be shared with) every group and every sound man since monitors were first introduced. Sometimes, reading this book, I get the feeling somebody's been pulling Dunphy's leg.
"UNFORGETTABLE FIRE" is a story of a rock'n'roll band written by someone who refers to the phrase 'be bop a lu Ia' as 'be hop a loo loo'. Dunphy's lack of understanding of rock'n'roll, his apparent lack of interest in it, his possible dislike for it, leads him inexorably to a vision of U2 as being entirely separate from the rest of popular music culture. It is an assumption which is as stupidly wrongheaded and sloppy as it will be misleading for those who come to the book wondering what it is that distinguishes U2 and makes them great.
Such a facile notion could barely be entertained by anyone with the slightest grounding in music, but for Dunphy it is there from the word go, from the first school talent contest performance and in his recounting of the St Fintan's support gig. "Boy" is referred to as "true and real in a way rock'n'roll had rarely been before" instantly writing off 25 years of great music that cut to the very hearts of its listeners. His simplistic reviews of U2's albums always set them aside from a world of rock'n'roll that for Dunphy 'was mostly fantasy', his greatest conceit being his presumptuous elevation of the "Unforgettable Fire" LP. He badly misinterprets (and misrepresents) U2's most subconscious, instinctive and atmospheric work as an album of social protest and nuclear holocaust, claiming on its behalf that "the idiom of rock'n'roll had never been so comprehensively challenged before."
The statement is grand, eloquent - and utterly meaningless. Coming from someone who patently knows so little about the idiom of rock'n'roll it's a display of unforgivably pompous ignorance. How many records do you have in your collection, Mr Dunphy? Can you define the limits of rock'n'roll? Map the area that, thus far in its history, has been covered by the startling diversity of acts that have grouped together, however loosely, under its name? Do you have any comprehension of what it was that had been so "comprehensively challenged"?
It's the kind of ludicrous posing implicit in this pretence at a critical perspective which will insult the intelligence of anyone who reads "Unforgettable Fire" who does care about rock'n'roll. For Dunphy the song "Pride" helped "rock'n'roll grow up, won it respect and self-respect." Rock'n'Roll has been growing up a long time - a litany of artists who had already won it respect and self-respect long before "Pride" would be as pointless as it would be long (and as impossible for any two genuine critics to agree upon). U2 would certainly be in most people's current lists, along with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Talking Heads... I don't even want to begin. And then there are all the artists for whom 'growing up, and 'respect' are not what it's all about.
Dunphy takes the view of Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh (and like many non-music writers Dunphy apparently acts on the assumption that Rolling Stone is the pinnacle of rock commentary) that rock was "a voice and a face for the forgotten and disenfranchised." This is valid up to a point and certainly reflects some aspects of rock's magnetism but Dunphy takes it too literally, assuming that it encompasses the whole of rock culture, before he laboriously describes how U2 were redefining it.
In what amounts to virtually a mini-essay in itself, Dunphy contrasts the affluent optimism of the 60's with the despairing austerity of the 80's. It is an entertaining read but its conclusion, that U2 are the band of the 80's because they respond to a need for social realism, "legitimising suburban existence, identifying its concerns and expressing them vividly and powerfully through rock'n'roll", is ridiculous. Bruce Springsteen could, perhaps, be seen in this role but U2 have never been about social realism -their songs, especially on "The Unforgettable Fire", are far too interior for that, too unspecific. When Dunphy writes of "Bad" being a song about heroin, and "The Unforgettable Fire" about nuclear war, he makes U2 sound like The Specials, crusaders for social justice. U2 could be said to be responding to a spiritual need, filling a gap engendered in a time of widespread uncertainty and insecurity - but not in the manner Dunphy suggests, and certainly not alone.
This episode quite clearly demonstrates Dunphy's strengths and weaknesses as a writer. His analysis of the mood of our times can be informed and wittily opinionated but his musical conclusions are inevitably sadly inappropriate and ill-informed. The book is inflated with background details and author opinionation whenever Dunphy has a chance to get to grips with something he knows. Thus the first chapter, Bono's Story, is both the most complex and the most readable as Dunphy places him in the context of Northside Dublin and of his family (there are 11 pages dealing with life in the Hewson household before he was born!). He deals well with the contradictions and conflicts innate in Irish religious attitudes, and how these conflicts brought Bono steadily towards his own Christian beliefs, and there is interesting Irish political background material, including one of the most concise essays on the IRA that I've ever read. But ultimately these sociological' passages are as irritating as the rest of his writing because they are so unbalanced.
Bono's parents and Larry's parents are treated in exhausting detail - Dunphy's on home ground here, he's got the ball and he's going to run with it, even going so far as to throw in entirely irrelevant detail (such as the anecdote about deported communist Jim Gralton who hailed from the same general area as Larry's mother). Had he been capable of sketching the same level of detail on all areas of the U2 story it would have been a fascinating, absorbing (if probably eccentric) document. However Adam and Edge's parents are lightly sketched at best - they're British and Dunphy either can't get to grips with them or didn't put in the necessary research to do so. As in so many other areas of this book, it's a case of what might have been...
Far too often throughout "Unforgettable Fire" Dunphy is clearly out of his depth and resorts to writing that is fatuous in its uneducated opinion. He constantly betrays his own interests with sudden bursts of eloquence: the only time he actually gets agitated is on the subject of sport - not exactly central to the U2 story - when he describes the people who ban soccer from Croke Park as having "damaged minds". Describing the "essence of Irishness", Dunphy puts sport first, quickly adding culture and music, as if suddenly remembering where he was.
The crazily uneven nature of the book is not only an indication of Dunphy's bias but of his weakness as a biographical journalist. The two week Amnesty International Conspiracy Of Hope Tour in July '85 takes up 18 pages and is dealt with in far greater detail than anything else in the U2 story. This is not a reflection of its importance but of the simple fact that Dunphy was, quite obviously, present with his notebook out. While the early gigs, far more fascinating and vital in U2's development, are scantily covered, the Conspiracy 'four passage is over-abundant in gig details, backstage meetings and after hours behaviour. Two paragraphs are spent on an analysis of comedian Robin Williams' performance in Chicago, there is over a page on U2's backstage encounter with black political comic, Dick Gregory arid another on Muhammed Ali. These encounters are reported solely because of Dunphy's first-hand presence - a presence that the writer does not openly concede, and which is entirely irrelevant to the U2 story. What of Bono's meetings with Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and a host of other fascinating characters, who Bono will often comment on with wit and a fan's excitement but who never make it into the book?
The issue of what should be included and excluded in a biography is a complex one. There is simply no way any one book could entirely encompass one life, never mind four. But Dunphy's omissions are inexcusable, particularly in the light of the weight he attributes to something as brief as the Amnesty Tour. There is no mention of Mother Records (and the accompanying link into the Dublin scene which that would have provided). There is no mention of Bono and Ali's visit to do volunteer work in Ethiopia, or of their visit to Central America, which obviously made such a big impression on the singer. Greg Carroll's death which wounded Bono and the band very badly, is just briefly and unemotionally dealt with.
Characters like Pod and Dick Evans, meanwhile, disappear from the story with little explanation. Wives and girlfriends, at best, are treated as sketchy appendages to the central characters. Many crucial songs don't even warrant a mention. Chas De Whalley and Martin Hannett, U2's first producers, are not dealt with in even a remotely convincing way. We hear that U2 want Brian Eno to produce their fourth studio album, but it is never explained why (and, of equal relevance, why not Steve Lillywhite who had produced the first three and was evidently still on good terms with the band). No mention is made of what must have been a crucial incident in Adam's life (and which received extensive national newspaper coverage), when on January 10th 1985, he knocked down a policeman and dragged him for 40 yards behind his car. (Clayton, who according to the Irish Evening Press told the Garda to "stop messing and fuck off", was disqualified from driving for two years).
Although this book was written with the co-operation and blessing (since apparently at least Partially withdrawn) of U2 it was never an 'official' biography - Dunphy made it clear that he owed no allegiance to the band, he had no special duties to cover up unsavoury episodes in their lives. Yet the absence of the policeman incident suggests either that Dunphy took it upon himself to do so - or that his research was so flimsy that he never heard of it in the first place.
Adam would be the first to admit that this episode was part of his 'wild years', when his rock'n'roll behaviour reached an unacceptable level - particularly for a member of a band who aspired to better things. But while Dunphy addresses the issue of Adam's alienation from the others and gently alludes to the seamier side of his lifestyle, he never confronts the issue head on.
He writes with an almost puritanical scorn of the 'rock'n'roll lifestyle' and its victims (usually the stars themselves, in Dunphy's worldview), yet he seems to give a nodding approval to Adam's behaviour on the basis of nothing more than Adam's easy-going, civilised nature. "His tastes in apres concert diversion were more traditional than those of his U2 colleagues... he usually slept late the next day, sometimes waking up in his own bed", Dunphy comments on Adam's private life. In the previous paragraph he had baldly stated: " 'It didn't make you happy' might have been the epitaph for sex-alcohol-drug-sated heroes who'd got lost among the carnal delights of being a Rock Star." It is typical of the wooliness of the book that he makes no attempt to reconcile his contradictory attitude to the two