While the Caribbean is usually a relaxing and relatively safe destination spot, for singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett and his friend Bono from U2, a trip to Jamaica ended with bullet holes in his plane.
On this day during Buffett’s tour in 1996, his plane was shot at by Jamaican police. Aboard the singer’s plane, known as the “Hemisphere Dancer,” was Buffett, Bono, his wife Ali, their children Jordan and Eve, and Island Records producer Chris Blackwell. Jamaican Police suspected they were smuggling drugs. Fortunately, no one was hurt during the exchange except for the plane which was left with a few bullet holes in the windshield and the fuselage.
The plan was to land in Negril near a spot where Buffett was going to introduce his friends to a favorite jerk chicken he’d found. Jamaican police, confused, opened fire as Buffett and his passengers began to disembark, believing them to be drug smugglers.
Bono and his family had to dive for safety to avoid being hit by the shots fired. He was reportedly so upset by the incident that he and his family left Jamaica immediately after. Meanwhile, Buffett stayed behind to settle things with the police.
Bono previously recalled how the story went down in Jamaica. He was afraid “everyone was going die.”
“These boys were shooting all over the place. I felt as if we were in the middle of a James Bond movie,” Bono recounted. “I honestly thought we were all going to die. You can’t believe the relief I felt when I saw the kids were okay.”
Jimmy Buffett Turns ‘Jamaican Mistake’ Into a Song
Jimmy Buffett later turned the incident in Jamaica into a song titled “Jamaica Mistaica.” The “Cheeseburger in Paradise” singer released the song later in 1996 recounting the terror the group went through.
“They shot from the lighthouse, they shot from the highway, they shot from the top of the cliff. They’d all gone haywire, we’re catchin’ fire, and there wasn’t even a spliff.”
“Like all things, it made for a good song,” Buffett says of the incident. “I know that there are times in my life where I probably should have been shot at for a lot worse behavior. But on this particular instance, I was innocent. Not even a spliff.”
Buffett said that others told him he could have potentially sued the Jamaican government over what happened. He said “no, it’s probably karma.”
“Nobody was hurt, so I said, ‘Let’s just get on with it,'” he added. “Some people said, ‘God you could have sued them, you could have sued the government.’ But I went, ‘No, it’s probably karma. We’re even now.’”
Buffett’s plane, the Hemisphere Dancer, currently resides at Margaritaville in Orlando, FL.