The phony rock-star business is something of an old game: David Bowie, Bootsy Collins from Parliament Funkadelic, and even a member of '80s hair-farmer band Great White have all had to deal with impostors over the years. Used record store employees in the Bay Area recall someone tried to obtain free albums by claiming to be Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton. Guitarist Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses walked into a bar in Memphis and accidentally bumped into his own impostor. Then there is the immortal episode of the Phil Donahue show when Peter Criss, the drummer for Kiss, was allowed to confront his imitator (and his imitator's girlfriends).
One of the more colorful rock-star impersonation stories in circulation, however, involves an SF Weekly staff member who met an Irish chap claiming to be Larry Mullen Jr., drummer for the band U2, during the early 1980s. Upon meeting the phony Mullen in a San Francisco restaurant, the staffer, who has absolutely begged for anonymity, immediately called up friends, who drove in from the East Bay with great excitement.
Alcohol and other intoxicants were procured and consumed (in the car, by god!), and the rock 'n' roll party load arrived at the Hard Rock Cafe, on the prowl for female company. “Mullen” quickly dumped his star-struck entourage for a pack of girls. Entourage members skulked out and reconvened in an apartment, where the television was turned on, and the channel set to MTV. A news segment came on. The segment listed concert schedules for rock bands. And just then, U2 was on tour … in Australia.
The next night, the scam artist returned to the same restaurant, and picked up the establishment's comely female manager, who whisked the “rock star” to her Sausalito houseboat. During a subsequent break in the action, as the “star” was taking a shower, the woman turned on MTV and learned that U2 was currently on tour … in Australia.
The Mullen impostor was last seen naked, running off a Sausalito houseboat, clutching his clothing.