Robert Frederick Zenon "Bob" Geldof, KBE (born 5 October 1951) is an Irish singer, songwriter, author, and political activist. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats. Geldof was born and raised in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, and attended Blackrock College. The Boomtown Rats 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. He also starred as Pink in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd The Wall.
Geldof is widely recognized 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 DATA and the ONE Campaign, global anti-poverty campaigns founded by fellow Irish humanitarian Bono. A single father, Geldof has also been outspoken for the Fathers' rights movement. Geldof has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognizes individuals who have made "an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace", among numerous other awards and nominations.
Geldof was born in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. His father, Robert, (also known as Bob) was the son of a Belgian immigrant, Zenon (sometimes mistakenly spelt Lenon) Geldof (born 1881), a Hotel Chef, and Amelia "Minnie" Falk (born 1876 in England). Zenon Geldof and Amelia Falk married in 1906 in St George's Square, and also had two daughters, Cleo Zenobie Geldof (born 1906 in Grantham), and May Geldof (born 1909 in Dublin) and were living at 117 Strand Road, Dublin, in 1911. At the age of 41 Geldof's mother Evelyn complained of a headache and died shortly thereafter, having suffered a haemorrhage. Geldof attended Blackrock College, near Dublin, an exclusive private school whose Catholic ethos he disliked. He was bullied for his lack of rugby prowess and over his middle name - 'Zenon'. After work as a slaughter man, road navvy and pea canner, he started as a music journalist in Vancouver, Canada, for the weekly publication Georgia Straight.
The Boomtown RatsEdit
Upon returning to Ireland in 1975, he became the lead singer of the band The Boomtown Rats, a rock group closely linked with the punk movement.
In 1978, The Boomtown Rats had their first No. 1 single in the UK with "Rat Trap", which was the first New Wave chart-topper in Britain. In 1979, the group gained international renown with their second UK No. 1, "I Don't Like Mondays". This was equally successful, as well as controversial; Geldof wrote it in the aftermath of Brenda Ann Spencer's attempted massacre at an elementary school across the street from her house in San Diego, California, at the beginning of 1979.
Geldof quickly became known as a colourful interviewee. 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 attacked Irish politicians and the Catholic Church which he blamed for many of the country's problems at the time, and responded to nuns in the audience that had 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 his old public school Blackrock College. The interview caused uproar across the country, making it impossible for the Boomtown Rats to play in Ireland again thereafter (apart from one gig at Lexlip Castle in 1980).
Your Voice Against Poverty concert in Rostock, Germany on 7 June 2007Geldof left the Boomtown Rats in 1986, to launch a solo career and publish his autobiography, Is That It?, which was a 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 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.
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 the 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.
After Live Aid he became known for his use of strong language in conversation, regardless of his target audience. It was widely claimed that he exhorted viewers to 'give us your fuckin' money' in the course of an afternoon session at the BBC's Wembley Stadium.
The BBC subsequently apologised for Geldof's outburst but his phonetical interpretation of the expletive went down in history; Spitting Image made many references to it.
In mid July 2006, he infuriated many New Zealanders by criticizing the New Zealand governments's foreign aid contribution '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 the tragedy of Third World poverty and the failure of governments to combat the crisis. However it was subsequently revealed that he was paid AU$100,000 for his one-off speech which included a luxury hotel room and first-class airfares. Criticism has been raised at the contradiction of demanding such fees to speak on world poverty and human misery.
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.
Main article: Band Aid (band)In 1984, Geldof responded to a 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 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, even though Christmas was long gone by the time it could be released in the States. "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. he also donated $1000 to the golden circle.
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 organized 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.
It was one of the most monumental stage shows in history, with Phil Collins flying on Concorde so that he could play at both Wembley and Philadelphia on the same day.
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 practically ordering them not to go out to the pub and to stay in and watch the show. The harrowing video of dying, skeletal children that had been made 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.
The Commission for AfricaEdit
In January 2004, on a visit to friends in Ethiopia, 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. In the months that followed it became clear that world leaders were not taking its recommendations seriously. 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 PanelEdit
Geldof is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), an independent authority on Africa deriving its origin from a key recommendation of the Commission for Africa. The Panel launched in April 2007 with the aim of focusing world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The Panel launched a major report in London on Monday 16 June 2008 entitled Africa's Development: Promises and Prospects.
One Young WorldEdit
Geldof has signed up to be one of the Counsellors at One Young World a non-profit organisation which hopes to bring together 1500 young global leaders of tomorrow from every country in the world.
The Live 8 concertsEdit
Geldof at a Live 8: DVD signingOn the 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 industrialized world. They featured musicians from different genres and locations around the world. The cities where Live 8 concerts were played were in industrialized 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.
- Performers: In London: Pink Floyd, Elton John, Paul McCartney, U2, Pete Doherty, Robbie Williams, Sting, Madonna, Coldplay, The Who, R.E.M., Annie Lennox, Dido, UB40, Snoop Dogg, Ms Dynamite, Mariah Carey, Joss Stone, Scissor Sisters, Keane, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Razorlight, Velvet Revolver, The Killers, Travis; in Paris, with Muse, Calogero, Kyo, Shakira, Andrea Bocelli, Craig David, Placebo, Youssou N'Dour; in Rome, with Duran Duran and Faith Hill; in Berlin, with Brian Wilson, Green Day, Audioslave, and Crosby Stills & Nash; in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, Will Smith, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Linkin Park, Josh Groban, Kaiser Chiefs, Maroon 5, Keith Urban, Sarah McLachlan, Rob Thomas; and in Barrie with Neil Young, The Barenaked Ladies, Bryan Adams, Deep Purple, Gordon Lightfoot and the Tragically Hip.
Although part of the campaign "Make Poverty History" (MPH), Live 8 was then accused of hijacking MPH by planning its concerts on the same day as the giant MPH 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, however, 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. Geldof added that there was insufficient public interest in African music among the concert's target markets in Europe and the United States. Including African artists at the expense of recognised artists would have been tokenist, he said, and would have undermined the effect of the concert.
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 critics 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, until recently 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. Some critics have claimed that Live 8 had been more about rehabilitating the careers of ageing rock stars, including Geldof himself, than it was about the poor people of Africa. Geldof himself has made no attempt to revive his music career, although, as the New Internationalist points out, since becoming prominent in the salvation of Africa, "Geldof has re-released the entire back catalogue of the Boomtown Rats."
Oasis's 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 as 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?"
Other humanitarian initiativesEdit
In 2009 joined the project "Soldiers of Peace", a movie against all wars and for a global peace.
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. Factual media producer Ten Alps (Planet spelled backwards) was founded the next day by Geldof and business partner Alex Connock. It has a turnover of around £80m.
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 been criticised from aid groups due to its heavy emphasis on Christian morality and sexual abstinence.
Geldof has recently spoken out about environmental issues, taking some positions that may be considered unusual, compared to many other prominent artists and performers, such as advocating for the increased use of nuclear power, saying that "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.
Some on the political left have charged Geldof with hypocrisy, due to his lack of support for causes such as the UK miners' strike (1984-1985) and the anti-war movement. 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 denied justice from the British family courts. He was noted as saying, "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.
In April 2008 Geldof hit the news again when a survey showed that nearly a quarter of British people confused passages from the Bible with speeches made by the famous activist.
Gelfdof has long been a strong advocate for the "taboo" fathers' rights movement. "I've got more letters than I had for Live Aid - and I've hardly talked about this - I have 70 plastic bin liners full of letters. From men, from women, from children, from grandparents - people forget about the grandparents who never see the kids again. I can't tell you how many more that is than Live Aid, and you know what a phenomenon that was. I am heart broken. I read them sobbing. I just can't believe what happens to people - what is done to them in the name of the law… "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 will frequently (but erroneously) refer to him as 'Sir Bob Geldof' as if that were his correct title.
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 2009. He received his award during a special meeting of the Swale Borough Council from the Mayor, Councillor Richard Moreton and Mayoress Rose Moreton.
Geldof works closely with DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), an organization founded by U2's Bono to advocate for Africa.
In 2005 he received the prestigious Beacon Fellowship Prize for his leadership role in alleviating poverty, famine and genocide, especially in the Third World, and his advocacy for the rights of fathers. In this year he was also awarded the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society and was a winner of the North-South Prize.
In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman, in 2006, he was voted third in the list of 'Heroes of our time'.
In 2005, Bob Geldof received the Free Your Mind Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
In 2005, Bob Geldof received a Man of Peace Award.
In 2006 he was awarded the Freedom of Dublin City.
In 2006, Bob Geldof was the recipient of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award by Holocaust Museum Houston.
In 2007, Bob Geldof was made an Honorary Fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In the same year Richard Curtis presented Bob Geldof the "Cinema for Peace Pioneer Award" honouring him for his achievements.
In 2006 and 2008, Bob Geldof was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2008 he 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.
He received an honorary degree of Master of Arts from the University of Kent in 1985. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary degree in Civil Law from Newcastle University. The University held a special honorary degree ceremony to honour key figures in the campaign against world poverty.
In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from ROTA.
Geldof in 1991 Geldof's long-term partner and later wife was Paula Yates. Yates was a rock journalist, presenter of the cutting-edge music show The Tube, and most notorious for her in-bed interviews on the show The Big Breakfast. Geldof met Paula 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 travelled by aeroplane to Paris, to surprise him when the band was playing there.
Simon Le BonEdit
Before they married, the couple had a daughter, Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, born 31 March 1983 (and while Geldof was still allegedly conducting an affair with the young Claire King). After 10 years together, Bob and Paula 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 Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof (known as Peaches Geldof) on 16 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.
In 1994, Yates left Geldof for Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS, whom she had met several years previously when she interviewed him on The Tube (TV series) and later 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 was found hanged in a hotel room on 22 November 1997 and Paula took custody of Tiger Lily. 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 also, 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 simply goes by the name of Tiger Hutchence-Geldof. Geldof currently resides in Battersea, South London with his French actress girlfriend Jeanne Marine, Pixie and Tiger.
Geldof has declared himself an atheist.
Geldof's wealth was estimated by Broadcast magazine, in 2001, to be £30 million, a position of 18th in a list of UK broadcasters.
In 2007, his two UK properties were owned by companies based in the British Virgin Islands. In the same article his accountant said the registration was an error that he would fix.
|US Hot 100||US Modern Rock||US Mainstream Rock||UK||D|
|1986||"This is the World Calling/Talk Me Up"||82||23||-||25||28||Deep in the Heart of Nowhere|
|1987||"Love Like a Rocket/Pulled Apart By Horses/This Is The World Calling/Truly, True Blue"||-||-||-||61||-|
|"I Cry Too/Let's Go"||-||-||-||-||-|
|1990||"The Great Song of Indifference/Hotel 75/In The Pouring Rain"||-||-||-||15||20||Vegetarians of Love|
|"Love or Something/Out Of Order/Friends For Life/One Of The Girls/The Great Song Of Indifference (Barmitzvah Wedding & Party Mix)"||-||24||-||86||55|
|"A Gospel Song/Vegetarians Of Love/The Warmest Fire"||-||-||-||-||-|
|1992||"Room 19 (Sha La La La Lee)/Huge Birdless Silence/The Great Song Of Indifference/Swear For You"||-||-||-||-||53||Happy Club|
|"My Hippy Angel/Maybe Heaven/Love Or Something"||-||-||-||-||-|
|1993||"The Happy Club/The Great Song Of Indifference/This Is The World Calling/Roads of Germany (after BD)"||-||-||-||-||-|
|1994||"Crazy/Mary Of The 4th Form (Live)/Looking After Number 1 (Live)/Joey's On The Street(Live)//Room 19 (Live)/The Beat Of The Night (Live)/Rat Trap (Live)"||-||-||-||65||72||Loud Mouth - The Very Best Of Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats|
|2003||"Pale White Girls"||-||-||-||-||-||Sex Age & Death|
(With The Boomtown Rats)