The 1986 Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour brought U2, the Police, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed and Bryan Adams to enormous basketball arenas and football stadiums all over America, but the most unique jam took place during an off day at a tiny hotel bar in Atlanta. A local band was playing Beatles covers when Gabriel, Bono, the Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. walked in with Lou Reed guitarist Fuzzbee Morse, Gabriel bassist Larry Klein and Gabriel drummer Manu Katche.
Morse walked up to the stage and said, "Can we borrow some of your instruments? Some of us are musicians."
"The band was very dismissive," says longtime Amnesty activist Martin Lewis. "Then Fuzzbee says, 'You might want to look and see who wants to use your instruments.' They look out and behind a pillar is Bono and he just leans out and waves. Behind another pillar is Edge, who also leans out and waves. The band was like, 'OK, play whatever you want.'"
The handful of lucky people at the bar that night got to see 3/4th of U2 jam with members of Reed's and Gabriel's bands, completely making up songs as they went along. "They started at 9:30 and went until four a.m.," says Lewis. "The wine was flowing. Larry Klein had the distinct impression that the guys in U2 hadn't had very many chances to jam with other musicians. The freedom was incredible to them."
Peter Gabriel shot some of the jam with his ever-present video camera. "When I was putting together this DVD collection I called up Peter and asked about it," says Lewis. "He said to me, 'My camera was stolen and I lost most of the tapes. I might have a few. But Martin, this was 27 years ago.'"
Most everybody Lewis interviewed about the Conspiracy of Hope tour raved about the jam, and he was determined to find a visual recording. "I don't know the word 'no,'" he says. "I knew I had to find those tapes, and Peter put out a concert video years ago called PoV that had a few seconds of Conspiracy of Hope footage on it. I tracked down the people who made PoV and we tracked the tapes down to a farm in upstate New York. And there, buried at the bottom of this pile of things, was a three-quarter inch tape in a British format. The hardest thing in the world was to find a place in upstate New York that could play such a thing."
Lewis did manage to find a place that could play the archaic tapes, and on them he found the motherload: 11 minutes of Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. jamming with Klein, Katche and Morse. "I didn't know what song Bono was singing," says Lewis. "I thought it was an obscure b-side, but Morse told me he was improvising lyrics, just complete free association. This was prime Bono in the creation process, and he threw in bits of other songs like 'Sweet Jane' and 'Satisfaction,' too."
He knew the footage would make an incredible bonus item on the Amnesty International ¡Released! six DVD set (in stores November 5th), but he needed everyone's permission to include it. "Larry [Klein] and Fuzzbee were happy to be included," he says. "But I had to make sure that Bono and Larry [Mullen] were cool. I spent a couple of weeks waiting and chewing my fingernails down to the knuckles. It wasn't that they weren't interested. They were just in the middle of recording a new album. Finally, I got word that Larry and Bono were happy for Amnesty to use the footage."
The performance has been titled "Peach Jam," and you can see an exclusive preview of it right here.