Publishers got a sneak peek the past few weeks at what is poised to be one of rock's big publishing events of 2005, an anthology by and about U2. Planned as a full-color photo retrospective, "In the Name of Love: U2 by U2" is proposed to coincide with the release of the band's next and 10th studio album, and timed for the 25th anniversary of the group's first LP, Boy.
The proposal, which was shown to prospective publishers in the past few weeks in the form of a blad — a selection of pages of text, photos and illustrations — includes previously unseen photos of the band throughout its career, such as from album-cover photo shoots with Peter Rowen, the boy who posed for the cover of War and other releases. "It's meant to show the band not just in the context of a rock band, but as figures in world culture," said one publisher who took a look.
The bandmembers themselves did not take meetings to shop the book, but sent out their longtime manager, Paul McGuinness, in their place. (McGuinness' office did not return calls for comment.)
Jim Henke is the proposed writer for the book, since he has had a long history with U2, first having lobbied his bosses at Rolling Stone to feature the group on its cover in 1985 (with the headline, "Our Choice — Band of the '80s"), and then creating an exhibit in 2003 on the band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he is now chief curator. Much of what was included in the exhibit, titled "In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2," is expected to make the finished book. One of the most extensive exhibitions on one act ever to be displayed in the museum, it included the band's first drum kit, costumes from years of stage productions, the Zoo TV Tour sign, photos by longtime band lensman Anton Corbijn, the first U2 T-shirt, early rejection letters from record labels, meticulous notes by producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois from a couple of recording sessions, and handwritten lyrics.
"Most bands don't have their material tied in as cogently as that," said the publishing source, who asked not to be identified so that negotiations to procure the anthology wouldn't be jeopardized. "If a publisher can make the book work as an event or tie it into a loyal fanbase, there's some gold in them thar hills."
He predicted that the U2 project would command a multimillion-dollar deal once the bids are collected on Monday (March 1).