When U2 arrives at the American Airlines Center on Saturday, lead singer Bono will be hounded by press from the moment he sets foot on Dallas soil until he walks on stage.He certainly won’t be found half-naked, singing a private concert for a local disc jockey.
That is exactly how George Gimarc first encountered the rock-singer-turned-diplomat.
“It was one of my strangest experiences with U2 ever,” said Gimarc, who has kept in touch with band members since the day he met them in April 1981.
Gimarc made a name for himself with his radio show “The Rock & Roll Alternative,” which, he said, was the only show in the area playing alternative records. The show started out as a 90-minute special on KNTU, the UNT college radio station.
He had just taken his show to commercial radio when U2 came to Dallas as an opening act for a wet T-shirt contest.
“Bono still jokes about it,” Gimarc said.
After the show, Gimarc said he drove the band back to their hotel, where he followed a 20-year-old Bono into his room. Bono excused himself to take a shower, and left Gimarc with a tape of new U2 songs.
“He came out in his tighty-whities toweling off a mop of hair,” Gimarc said. “He asked me if there was anything I liked.”
Gimarc told him he liked the last track, which was an instrumental. Bono said it wasn’t an instrumental and began singing the lyrics.
“He was just walking around the room, towel-drying his hair, scatting out lyrics,” Gimarc said.
It was obvious Bono would be a star, Gimarc said.
“I saw it coming,” Gimarc said. “He was like a cross between Rod Stewart and Robin Williams.”
Gimarc would later record the experiences in his books, “Punk Diary” and “Post Punk Diary,” which were released in a combined set in July 2005.
After working at different radio stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Gimarc said he set out to create and program a station that solely played alternative rock. The result was KDGE, or “The Edge.”
“It was great,” Gimarc said. “Everyone was friends.”
Josh Venable, who now hosts “The Adventure Club” on KDGE, decided he wanted to be a DJ after hearing Gimarc’s show.
“I thought, this guy must get more free records than anybody in the world,” Venable said. “Gimarc made me want to do what I want to do.”
After he called every day for three months, Gimarc gave Venable a job working at the station, Venable said.
Venable said a lot of the music he plays on “The Adventure Club” is based on Gimarc’s show.
“He shaped the way I now do music on The Adventure Club,” Venable said. “Gimarc introduced me to a lot of the bands I like.”
Gimarc’s work as musical director at KDGE shaped alternative music, Venable said.
“The Edge made stars out of a lot of those bands,” Venable said.
Gimarc said he left the station after the station started playing chart-topping hits. Formats like the one the Edge now uses, as well as Howard Stern, are the reason radio is starting to decline in popularity, Gimarc said.
“Radio really sucks,” Gimarc said.
Amanda Redmon, Modern Rock Director for KTCU 88.7 FM “The Choice,” said freedom can still be found on college radio.
“Our DJs choose what they want to play,” Redmon said. “Here, you can play whatever you want.”
Gimarc said that is why he is planning a return to radio. Gimarc said he recently patented a new radio protocol, or way of playing songs, that he likens to “Jack-FM.”
Gimarc said he is the first person in America to patent a radio protocol. He said his protocol features more than 4,000 more songs than Jack-FM does. Gimarc has also worked as a writer for Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon’s Rotten Day radio show.
Gimarc said he is currently working on a photobook about the Texas International Pop Festival, a music festival in Lewisville that happened a few weeks after Woodstock.
Through his more than 25 years in radio, there is still one mistake Gimarc can’t live down: When he introduced U2 at its first show in Dallas, he called them “one of the best bands in England.” The Irish band cringed, Gimarc said.
“Whenever they came on the radio after that, Bono would always ask me, ‘Where are we from George?’