Bob Geldof in 2009
|Birth name||Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof|
5 October 1951 |
Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, activist, philanthropist, actor|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica|
|Associated acts||The Boomtown Rats, Band Aid, USA for Africa, Live Aid, Live 8, Pink Floyd|
|Website||www.bobgeldof.com or |
Robert Frederick Zenon "Bob" Geldof, KBE (born 5 October 1951) is an Irish singer-songwriter, author, occasional actor and political activist. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside the punk rock movement. The band had hits with his compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". He co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles of all time, and starred in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall as "Pink".
Geldof is widely recognised for his activism, especially anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa. In 1984 he and Midge Ure founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. They went on to organise the charity super-concert Live Aid the following year and the Live 8 concerts in 2005. Geldof currently serves as an adviser to the ONE Campaign, founded by fellow Irishman Bono. A single father, Geldof has also been outspoken for the fathers' rights movement.
Geldof was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, and is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognises individuals who have made "an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace", among numerous other awards and nominations.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Musical career
- 3 Controversy
- 4 Charity work
- 5 Criticism of his charity work
- 6 Businessman
- 7 Political views
- 8 Awards and honours
- 9 Personal life
- 10 Discography
- 11 Film appearances
- 12 Quotation
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
At the age of 41, Evelyn Geldof complained of a headache and died shortly thereafter of a cerebral haemorrhage. Bob Geldof attended Blackrock College, where he was bullied for being a poor rugby player and for his middle name, Zenon. After work as a slaughterman, a road navvy and pea canner in Wisbech, he was hired as a music journalist in Vancouver, British Columbia for Georgia Straight.
The Boomtown Rats
In 1978, the Boomtown Rats had their first No. 1 single in the UK with "Rat Trap", the first New Wave chart-topper in Britain. In 1979, they gained international attention with their second UK No. 1, "I Don't Like Mondays". This was both successful and controversial. Geldof had written it in the aftermath of Brenda Ann Spencer's attempted massacre at an elementary school in San Diego, California in 1979.
Geldof became known as a colourful interview subject. The Boomtown Rats' first appearance on Ireland's The Late Late Show saw Geldof as deliberately brusque to host Gay Byrne and during his interview he attacked Irish politicians and the Catholic Church, which he blamed for many of the country's problems. He responded to nuns in the audience who tried to shout him down by saying they had "an easy life with no material worries in return for which they gave themselves body and soul to the church". He also criticised Blackrock College. The interview caused uproar, making it impossible for the Boomtown Rats to play in Ireland again.
After the Boomtown Rats
Geldof left the Boomtown Rats in 1986, to launch a solo career and publish his autobiography, Is That It?, which was a UK best-seller.
His first solo records sold reasonably well and spawned the hit singles "This Is The World Calling" (co-written with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics) and "The Great Song of Indifference". He also occasionally performed with other artists, such as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy. A performance of "Comfortably Numb" with David Gilmour is documented in the 2002 DVD David Gilmour in Concert. In 1992, he performed at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert with the surviving members of Queen at the old Wembley Stadium, singing a song he had co-written with Mercury, called "Too Late God".
Geldof has also worked as a DJ for XFM radio. In 1998, he erroneously announced Ian Dury's death from cancer, possibly due to hoax information from a listener who was disgruntled at the station's change of ownership. The event caused music paper NME (who had been involved in a running feud with Geldof since his Boomtown Rats days primarily due to his disparagement of The Clash) to call Geldof "the world's worst DJ".
Along with U2's Bono, he has devoted much time since 2000 to campaigning for debt relief for developing countries. His commitments in this field, including the organisation of the Live 8 concerts, kept Geldof from producing any more musical output since 2001's Sex, Age & Death album.
After Live 8, Geldof returned to his career as a musician by releasing a box set containing all of his solo albums entitled Great Songs of Indifference – The Anthology 1986–2001 in late 2005. Following that release, Geldof also toured, albeit with mixed success.
In July 2006 Geldof arrived at Milan's Arena Civica, a venue capable of holding 12,000 people, to play a scheduled concert to find that the organisers had not put the tickets on general sale and that only 45 people had shown up. Geldof refused to go on stage once he found out how small the attendance was. To offer some compensation for fans, Geldof stopped to sign autographs to those who had shown up. He then played a well-attended free "Storytellers" concert for MTV Italy in Naples in October 2006.
At one point during his charity work, Geldof swore on CD:UK appearing to think he could get away with it, when he said "Fuck the tape" whilst concluding his chat with Cat Deeley. At the NME awards in 2006, when accepting an award, Geldof referred to the host Russell Brand as a "cunt". Brand responded by saying "It's no wonder Bob Geldof knows so much about famine – he's been dining out on 'I Don't Like Mondays' for 30 years".
In mid-July 2006, he infuriated many New Zealanders by criticising the New Zealand government's foreign aid contribution as "shameful" and "pathetic". Winston Peters, the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded that Geldof failed to recognise the "quality" of New Zealand aid as well as other New Zealand contributions.
During mid-November 2008, a local for-profit organisation Diversity@Work invited Geldof to Melbourne, to speak about Third World poverty and the failure of governments to combat the crisis. It was later revealed that he was paid A$100,000 for his speech which included a luxury hotel room and first-class airfares.
Geldof's first major charity involvement took place in September 1981, when he performed as a solo artist for Amnesty International's benefit show The Secret Policeman's Other Ball, at the invitation of Amnesty show producer Martin Lewis; he performed a solo version of "I Don't Like Mondays". Other rock artists had 'planted a seed' and appeared to have affected Geldof in a similar manner.
In 1984, Geldof responded to a BBC news report from Michael Buerk about the famine in Ethiopia by mobilising the pop world to do something about the images he had seen. With Midge Ure of Ultravox he wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in order to raise funds. The song was recorded by various artists under the name of Band Aid.
In its first week of release the single became the UK's fastest seller of all time, entering the chart at number one and going on to sell over three million copies, making it the biggest-selling single in UK history up to that point, a title it held for almost 13 years. The single was also a major US hit, peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" returned to the UK chart a year later, reaching number three, and eventually it raised over £8 million.
Following this massive success preparations were started for the biggest rock concerts the world had ever seen, the following summer.
As Geldof began to learn more about the situation, he discovered that one of the main reasons why African nations were in such dire peril was because of repayments on loans that their countries had taken from Western banks. For every pound donated in aid, ten times as much would have to leave the country in loan repayments. It became obvious that one song was not enough.
On 13 July 1985, Geldof and Ure organised Live Aid, a huge event staged simultaneously at the Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Thanks to an unprecedented decision by the BBC to clear its schedules for 16 hours of rock music, the event was also broadcast live in the UK on television and radio.
During the broadcast of Live Aid, Geldof shocked viewers into giving cash by not only twice mouthing profanities but also by slamming his fist on the table and ordering them not to go out to the pub but to stay in and watch the show.
Nearly seven hours into the concert in London, Geldof gave an infamous interview in which he used the word fuck. The BBC presenter David Hepworth, conducting the interview, had attempted to provide a list of addresses to which potential donations should be sent; Geldof interrupted him in mid-flow and shouted: "Fuck the address, let's get the [phone] numbers!" It has passed into folklore that he yelled at the audience, "Give us your fucking money!" although Geldof has stated that this phrase was never uttered. Due to his Irish accent, the profanity was stated to be misheard as "fock" and "focking" respectively. After the outburst, giving increased to £300 per second.
The harrowing video of dying, skeletal children that had been made by photo-journalists setting their films to the tune of "Drive" by the Cars, contributed to the concert's success.
In total, Live Aid raised over £150 million for famine relief. Geldof was subsequently knighted, at age 34, for his efforts. His autobiography, written soon after with Paul Vallely, was entitled Is That It?. This book achieved further fame for being featured on the GCSE examination syllabus in a following year.
Much of the money raised by Live Aid went to NGOs in Ethiopia, some of which were under the influence or control of the Derg military junta. Some journalists have suggested that the Derg was able to use Live Aid and Oxfam money to fund its enforced resettlement and "villagification" programmes, under which at least 3 million people are said to have been displaced and between 50,000 and 100,000 killed. However in November 2010 the BBC formally apologised to Geldof for misleading implications in its stories on the subject of Band Aid, saying it had 'no evidence' that Band Aid money specifically went to buy weapons.
Commission for Africa
In January 2004, on a visit to friends in Africa, Geldof came to believe that more people were at risk of starvation there than had died in the famine of 1984/85 which had prompted Live Aid. He rang the British Prime Minister Tony Blair from Addis Ababa. According to the Live 8 programme notes by Geldof's biographer and friend, Paul Vallely, the Prime Minister responded: "Calm down Bob. ... And come and see me as soon as you get back. "
The result was the Commission for Africa. Blair invited Geldof and 16 other Commissioners, the majority from Africa and many of them politicians in power, to undertake a year-long study of Africa's problems. They came up with two conclusions: that Africa needed to change, to improve its governance and combat corruption, and that the rich world needed to support that change in new ways. That meant doubling aid, delivering debt cancellation, and reforming trade rules. The Commission drew up a detailed plan of how that could be done. It reported in March 2005. To force the issue Geldof decided to create a new international lobby for Africa with eight simultaneous concerts around the world to put pressure on the G8. He called it Live 8. The Commission's recommendations later became the blueprint for the G8 Gleneagles African debt and aid package.
Africa Progress Panel
Geldof is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. Every year, the Panel releases a report, the Africa Progress Report, that outlines an issue of immediate importance to the continent and suggests a set of associated policies. In 2012, the Africa Progress Report highlighted issues of Jobs, Justice and Equity. The 2013 report will outline issues relating to oil, gas and mining in Africa.
DATA and the ONE Campaign
Bob Geldof worked closely with DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), an organisation founded by U2's Bono in 2002 to promote debt-relief, third world trade and AIDS relief in Africa. It merged with the ONE Campaign in 2008, where Geldof also is very active. In June 2009, on behalf of the ONE Campaign, he co-edited a special edition of the Italian newspaper La Stampa with a view on 35th G8 summit.
Live 8 concerts
On 31 March 2005, Geldof and Ure announced the Live 8 project, to raise awareness of issues that burden Africa, including government debt, trade barriers, hunger, and AIDS issues. Geldof organised six concerts on 2 July 2005 in large cities throughout the industrialised world. They featured musicians from different genres and locations around the world. The cities where Live 8 concerts were played were in industrialised countries, and drew huge crowds. The locations were London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Philadelphia, Barrie, Chiba, Johannesburg, Moscow, Cornwall and Edinburgh.
The concerts were free, and were scheduled just days before world leaders gathered in Gleneagles, for the G8 economic summit, on 6 July. Ure organised the 'final push' Live 8 concert at Edinburgh. 'The boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis,' Geldof said in a statement. Pink Floyd's performance in London was its first since 1981 to include original bassist, Roger Waters, and the last to include keyboardist Rick Wright before his death in 2008.
Criticism of his charity work
Although part of the campaign "Make Poverty History" (MPH), Live 8 was accused by John Hilary, then a senior executive of the campaign, of hijacking MPH by planning its concerts on the same day as the march in Edinburgh, which was said to be the biggest social justice march in Scottish history.
Geldof was also criticised for the lack of African acts performing at Live 8. Geldof responded that only the biggest-selling artists would attract the huge audience required to capture the attention of the world in the run-up to the G8 meeting.
In the lead-up to the G8 summit, Geldof, who had been a member of Tony Blair's Commission for Africa on which the Gleneagles recommendations were largely based, labelled Kumi Naidoo criticism of the summit "a disgrace". Some leading African campaigners have asked Geldof to stand down from the global anti-poverty movement, and the New Internationalist (between January and February 2006) said 'It would be long overdue if he did.'
There were also accusations that Live 8 gave unqualified support to the personal and political agendas of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, particularly in the lead up to an election. Though many felt that it was the British politicians who had accepted Geldof's agenda, rather than the other way round, this led to accusations that Geldof had compromised his cause. In contrast with the media support given to Live Aid, Live 8 was subject to criticism by some sections of the media.
The promises made for Africa at the Gleneagles summit, were widely praised: "the greatest summit for Africa ever" (Kofi Annan), "an important, if incomplete, boost to the development prospects of the poorest countries" economist (Jeffrey Sachs) or "a major breakthrough on debt" (Kevin Wakins, former head of research at Oxfam). But many aid agencies pronounced their disappointment with the outcome, feeling that the strict conditions imposed on African countries for accepting debt relief left them little better off than before. The New Internationalist stated, since becoming prominent in the salvation of Africa, "Geldof has re-released the entire back catalogue of the Boomtown Rats."
Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher became one of the more vocal sceptics about the impact of Live 8, citing his belief that rock stars have less influence over world leaders than popular culture may believe. His explanation was:
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15-minute break at Gleneagles and sees Annie Lennox singing "Sweet Dreams" and thinks, 'Fuck me, she might have a point there, you know?' And Keane doing "Somewhere Only We Know" and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him. ... we should really fucking drop that debt, you know.' It's not going to happen, is it?"
By 1992 Bob Geldof had established himself as a businessman through co-ownership of the TV production company Planet 24, which pioneered early morning television with The Big Breakfast. Planet 24 was sold to Carlton TV in 1999. TV production company Ten Alps was founded the next day by Geldof and business partner Alex Connock. In April 2011 a new entertainment formats company, Pretend, was launched.
In 2002, he became a founding partner of Groupcall, which specialises in providing communication software and data extraction tools to the education, public and business sectors. His initial involvement arose from concerns for his children's safety.
Bob Geldof adopted an anti-euro stance by appearing in an advertisement against the single currency, in 2002. Geldof also criticised the European Union (EU) in 2004 for what he called its 'pathetic' response to Ethiopia's food crisis, although one MEP has claimed he is "misinformed".
During a visit to Ethiopia, Geldof also praised President George W. Bush's proposal to fight AIDS in Africa. This proposal has received criticism from some aid groups due to its heavy emphasis on Christian morality and sexual abstinence.
Geldof advocated for increased use of nuclear power, saying, "In the UK, we'll soon have to scramble for more nuclear power. On this issue, I don't care what anyone says: we're going to go with it, big-time. We may mess around with wind and waves and other renewable energy sources, trying to make them sustainable, but they're not. They're Mickey Mouse."
Geldof has also called for the industrial development of developing nations such as China and India to be taken into account when negotiating greenhouse gas emissions targets, and has suggested that the developed world has a role to play in assisting these nations to roll out non-fossil energy systems.
In 2006, Geldof told a business conference that "Back in the 1970s there was no chance for a boy with an idea. Everything was stitched up by the unions."
From January 2002, until sometime in 2005, Geldof listened very closely to Father's Rights campaigners, and it was reported that he had sacks of mail arriving at his door on a daily basis from fathers who were unhappy with the British family courts. He said, "I am heartbroken. I just cannot believe what happens to people, what is done to them in the name of the law. You only have to open your eyes to see what I call the 'Sad Dads on Sundays Syndrome'". He has also called for The Children Act to be repealed and his latest statement to Father's Rights campaigners was, "It's not in my nature to shut up".
In December 2005, Geldof agreed to give advice on global poverty to the Conservative Party. He stated, however, that he was uninterested in party politics, and would continue to 'shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right,' in order to achieve results.
Awards and honours
Geldof has received many awards for his fund-raising work, including an honorary knighthood (as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II, in 1986. Geldof is entitled to use the post-nominal letters "KBE" but, as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm, he is precluded from using the title "Sir". Regardless, the nickname "Sir Bob" has stuck and media reports continue to refer to him as "Sir Bob Geldof".
In 1986 Geldof was made a Freeman of the Borough of Swale, in north Kent, England. Geldof had for some years been resident in the borough, at Davington Priory, Faversham, and is still living there as of 2013. He received his award during a special meeting of the Swale Borough Council from the mayor, Councillor Richard Moreton, and the mayoress, Rose Moreton.
2004: Geldof received an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia.
2007: made an Honorary Fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In the same year Richard Curtis presented Geldof with the "Cinema for Peace Pioneer Award" honouring him for his achievements.
2008: received the Nichols-Chancellor's Medal from Vanderbilt University for his humanitarian efforts, as well as an honorary degree in music from the University of East London, serving on both occasions as the keynote speaker for the 2008 graduating class.
Geldof's longtime girlfriend and eventual wife was Paula Yates. Yates was a rock journalist, who was later a presenter of the music show The Tube which ran from 1982 to 1987, and was known for her in-bed interviews on the show The Big Breakfast, from 1992. Geldof met Yates when she became an obsessed fan of the Boomtown Rats during the band's early days. They got together as a couple in 1976 when Yates flew to Paris to surprise him when the band was playing there.
Before they married, the couple had a daughter, Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, born 31 March 1983 (and while Geldof was still conducting an affair with the young Claire King). She was named Fifi after Bob's aunt Fifi, and Trixibelle because Yates wanted a belle in the family. After 10 years together, Geldof and Yates married in June 1986 in Las Vegas, with Simon Le Bon (of Duran Duran) acting as Geldof's best man. The couple later had two more daughters, Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof (known as Peaches Geldof) on 13 March 1989, and Little Pixie Geldof (known as Pixie Geldof) on 17 September 1990. Pixie is said to be named after a celebrity daughter character from the cartoon Celeb in the satirical magazine Private Eye, itself a lampoon of the names the Geldofs gave to their other children. Geldof has stated that his children find his music 'crap' and him an 'embarrassment'.
In February 1995, Yates left Geldof for Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS, whom she had first met back in 1985 when she interviewed him on The Tube, and again in 1994 when she interviewed Hutchence again for The Big Breakfast. Geldof and Yates divorced in May 1996 and Yates moved in with Hutchence. Yates and Hutchence had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, born 22 July 1996. Hutchence later was found hanged in a hotel room on 22 November 1997. Geldof soon after went to court and obtained full custody of his own three daughters and has since become an outspoken advocate of fathers' rights. After Paula Yates's death from a drug and alcohol overdose in 2000 Geldof became the legal guardian of Tiger Lily, believing it best that she be raised with her three half-sisters. In 2007, Geldof formally adopted her, changing her name to Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof although she goes by the name of Tiger Hutchence-Geldof.
Regarding his Jewish ancestry, in an interview with the Manchester Jewish Telegraph, Geldof said “I was a quarter Catholic, a quarter Protestant, a quarter Jewish and a quarter nothing – the nothing won.”
In 2014, Geldof hopes to become the first Irish person in space as he is set to be one of the first ever astronauts on the Space XC commercial service, a $100,000 per person flight.
According to The Sunday Times Rich List, Geldof was worth £32 million in 2012.
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions|
|1986||Deep in the Heart of Nowhere||79||—||—||27||—||—||3||18||15||130|
|1990||The Vegetarians of Love
|1993||The Happy Club
|2001||Sex, Age & Death
|2011||How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions|
|1994||Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats
|2005||Great Songs of Indifference: The Anthology 1986–2001
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
|1986||"This Is the World Calling"||25||—||28||2||29||1||10||18||82
|Deep in the Heart of Nowhere|
|1987||"Love Like a Rocket"||61||—||—||21||—||—||—||—||—|
|"I Cry Too"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"In the Pouring Rain"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1990||"The Great Song of Indifference"||15||—||20||7||16||—||—||—||—||Vegetarians of Love|
|"Love or Something"||86||—||55||—||—||—||—||—||—
|"A Gospel Song"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1992||"Room 19 (Sha La La La Lee)"||—||—||53||—||—||—||—||—||—||Happy Club|
|"My Hippy Angel"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1993||"The Happy Club"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1994||"Crazy"||65||—||72||—||—||—||—||—||—||Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof & the Boomtown Rats|
(Dustin & Geldof)
|2002||"Pale White Girls"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Sex Age & Death|
|2011||"Silly Pretty Thing"||146||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell|
|"Here's To You"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
- A^ "This Is the World Calling" also charted at No. 23 on Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart.
- B^ "Love or Something" charted at No. 24 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart.
- Pink Floyd The Wall (1982) – Pink
- Number One (1985) – Harry 'Flash' Gordon
- Bernard and the Genie (1991 film) - as Himself (cameo)
- Spiceworld (1997) – as himself (cameo)
- Being Mick (2001) – as himself
- 'I am Bob' (short film 2007) – in which he loses a lookalike contest (even after singing the Boomtown Rats' hit "I Don't Like Mondays".)
- Oh My God (film) (2009) – as himself
|“||I want to write a song people will remember, that people will some day hear and be reminded of something they did years ago. Maybe "I Don't Like Mondays", will be the one, but, it's just another minor thing really, once you've achieved the ambition.||”|
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- [dead link]
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||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (June 2013)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bob Geldof.|
- Official website
- Interview with Bob Geldof on poverty, corporate social responsibility and world trade
- Bob Geldof at the Internet Movie Database
- Bob Geldof's visit to Ethiopia photo gallery
- Bob Geldof's charity work
- Bob Geldof KBE at h2g2
- Students interview Bob Geldof about campaigning and inspiration for Radiowaves (2008)
- Kent TV Website, Interviews with Bob Geldof
- Interview with Geldof; The Guardian
- Let Us See If Italy Keeps Faith With the World's Poor by Bob Geldof, The Huffington Post, 15 June 2009