Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: When U2 was mistaken for drug smugglers

It was January 16, 1996.  Bono and his family were on vacation, flying on a private plane in the Caribbean that had to make a quick fuel stop in Jamaica.  No big deal, right? 

Unbeknownst to anyone aboard, Jamaican police were working on an anonymous tip. They had heard this plane–an old Albatross seaplane from WWII–was being used to smuggle drugs. After refueling without incident, Bono’s plane taxied back out onto the runway with the cops in hot pursuit. And as the plane was taking off, they opened fire with more than a hundred rounds. 

At least seven bullets were lodged in the fuselage, but fortunately, no one was hurt.  In the end, the cops admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity and apologized.  Bono and family were so shaken that they bolted from Jamaica and went right to Miami for the rest of their trip.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: When U2 was mistaken for drug smugglers

  • This is the Jamacia Mistaca incident. Jimmy Buffett (Flying), Chris Blackwell (Island Records), and Bono and Family were flying in to get Jerk in Jimmy’s Albatross, the Hemisphere Dancer. They were trying to do a sea landing when they got fired upon. This is according to Jimmy.

    This became the song Jamacia Mistaica by Jimmy.


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