The Significance Of The "FLY" Shades
Many years ago, I received an email from a serious "Fly" shade fanatic. Even today, he is continuing his quest to acquire the original "Fly" sunglasses. This is the first (1) of two exclusive articles from Mr. Govaars. A more recent article (2) can be found below. All corrections to be made can be emailed to Peter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re: u2 bug glasses
Fri, 9 May 1997 02:41:10 -0400 (EDT)
Thanks for your response. I know the pair that you mentioned from the back of Rolling Stone. It turns out they are YACKO (Yet Another Cheap Knock-Off.) They are copies of a pair of Armani sunglasses that resemble the Cutler & Gross pair that Bono wore for the video "Even Better Than The Real Thing". Note that these glasses are not in fact the same style as the "Fly" shades.
The "Fly" shades differ in that they are a single piece of cast plastic, whereas the Armanis and the Cutler & Gross ones are made of a separate frame and lenses, as is the case with most sunglasses.
The original "Fly" glasses were popular with Jazz musicians of the mid to late sixties. They were apparently based on some protective glasses that were used by glass blowers somewhere in England (or so I heard.)
The weird thing is that they keep popping up on musicians in (fairly) current videos, but no one can tell me who makes them or where to get some. I've seen Lenny Kravitz wearing a fluorescent green pair on the MTv Music Awards a few years back; BennyHill wore a brown pair in a sketch dated from '76; John Cleese wore them in a Monty Python sketch dating back to '72; the Guns & Roses bass player wore them in a video shot in London, where they're all on surf-boards; they are being worn by some women in the video for the song "Believe" by the group Dig from a few years back; the earliest appearance I know of is in one of the "Carry On..." movies, probably "Carry on Holiday" where someone wears a brownish/orange pair; they resemble some sports shields made by Bolle, but they claim that they do not sell any tinted versions; and, of course, our man Bono wears them.
It turns out that Bono's glasses were found by Fintan Fitzgerald, the wardrobe guy for the band. Apparently, three pair were bought in a thrift (read second hand shop) in San Francisco. One pair was given to some music museum in a felt lined box, another pair belongs to Bono, and the third, apparently, broke in half on tour. Jeremy Josephs at the London headquarters for U2 merchandising and Barbara and Cecilia at U2's Principle Management group did their best, but couldn't help any further. I haven't got in contact with Fintan directly yet...
A friend of mine said he knew a specialty dealer that could get a pair that belonged to some musician for about $200, but time and distance has caused me to lose track of that friend, so that lead has gone cold...
Extensive Research, Huh?
Hope all this intrigues you enough to still want to try to help. From the point of view of authentic U2 memorabilia, this one's a doozy. In a way its become a bit of an obsessive detective hunt for me, since I know I'm not halucinating them, and therefore, since they exist, SOMEONE MUST know the company that makes them, even if its just a small custom shop!
Hope you fare better than I! Best Regards,
After 3 years, 3 months, and 5 days to be exact, Peter contacted me again regarding the "Fly" shades. In his continuing quest to find the original glasses Bono wore during the ZooTV era, he informed me that the shades sold by Frontline Entertainment were not the real thing. In fact, in one of his several recent emails to me, he described the differences between the Frontline shades and the original glasses worn by Bono.
Tue, 15 Aug 2000 11:56:23 -0700
Sorry! I didn't realize that that post about Frontline in Australia was you... here I am referring you to your own document page!
In any case, since the Frontline tidbit came out after my description, I just wanted to let you know that the "U2 Approved" glasses are not the same as the ones Bono wears, but a set that the U2 organization had created and licensed for putting the name U2 and Bono's image all over. They look slightly different from the real "Fly" glasses too in that the stems end in a point rather than curving down behind the ear, and the notch over the nose comes to a point rather than being as smooth curve. I know, because I did end up ordering three pair from the U2 merchandising arm in England.
Anyway, no I haven't found the real ones yet, but I have assembled quite a collection of different kinds of bug-eye glasses! My current favorites are some by Blinde Optics because they are just huge! Blinde Optics is the same company who did the very cool sunglasses for the movie the Matrix. Unfortunately, the Matrix glasses were custom made for the movie, and cannot be had anywhere. There are some companies that have since created some knock offs, but none directly from Blinde.
As far as the old dead E-Mail, you now have my work one, which I think will be active for some time to come. If it isn't too much trouble, maybe you could update the article, or post an addendum with one of the following E-Mails for me...
email@example.com (home) firstname.lastname@example.org (work)
Good to chat with you again.