Bob Geldof is an Irish singer, songwriter, actor
and political activist.
was born in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin,
in the Republic of Ireland, to Roman Catholic
parents. His father, Robert, also known as Bob
was the son of a Belgian immigrant . At the age
of 41 Geldof's mother Evelyn complained of a headache
and died shortly thereafter, having suffered a
haemorrhage. He also has two older sisters, Lynn
attended Blackrock College, near Dublin, a school
whose staunch Catholic ethos he disliked. After
work as a slaughter man, road navvy and pea canner,
he started as a music journalist in Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada, for the weekly publication
Georgia Straight. 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.
the year of 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 that
country. In 1979, the group shot to international
fame 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
quickly became known as a colourful spokesman
for rock music. The Boomtown Rats' first appearance
on Ireland's The Late Late Show led to complaints
from viewers. He had limited success as an actor,
his most notable role being the lead in the 1982
film Pink Floyd The Wall, based on Pink Floyd's
album The Wall.
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.
they married, the couple had a daughter, Fifi
Trixibelle Geldof, born March 31, 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 Geldof on March 16, 1989,
and Pixie Frou-Frou Geldof on September 17, 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
unusual names the Geldofs gave to their children.
In 1994, Yates left Geldof for Michael Hutchence
(INXS), whom she met when she interviewed him
on "The Big Breakfast". Geldof and Yates
divorced in May 1996 and Yates moved in with Hutchence.
Yates and Hutchence had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraana
Tiger Lily, born July 22, 1996. After Hutchence
was found hanged in a hotel room in 1997, Geldof
went to court and obtained full custody of his
three daughters and has since become an outspoken
advocate of fathers' rights. After Paula Yates's
death from an overdose in 2000, Geldof became
the legal guardian of Tiger Lily Hutchence, believing
it best that she be raised with her three half-sisters.
Geldof lives in the Davington area of Faversham
in Kent with his French actress girlfriend Jeanne
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 performing at the show included Sting,
Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. These people were
later called on for Band Aid and Live Aid (in
1985), a show co-organized by Geldof. Geldof sang
backing vocals on the all-star version of Bob
Dylan's "I Shall Be Released", alongside
another musician he met at the show - Ultravox
singer Midge Ure. The show, and its spin-off albums
and movies, raised considerable sums of money
for Amnesty, and raised public consciousness about
human rights. Geldof was proud of his small involvement
in the benefit - and noted the impact that a group
of rock musicians assembled by one person could
have on a cause. Another future Geldof associate,
U2 singer Bono, noted of the 1981 Amnesty show
in 1986 that it had 'planted a seed' and appeared
to have affected Geldof in a similar manner.
1984, Geldof reacted to a news report about starving
children in Ethiopia by mobilising the pop world
to do something about the images he had seen.
Jointly, with Midge Ure of Ultravox, they 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. They included:
Adam Clayton, Bono (U2) ; Phil Collins; Bob Geldof,
Johnnie Fingers, Gerry Cott, Simon Crowe (Boomtown
Rats); Midge Ure, Chris Cross (Ultravox); Tony
HadIey, John Keble, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Steve
Norman (Spandau Ballet); Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes,
Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Roger Taylor (Duran
Duran); Paul Young; Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware
(Heaven 17); Siobhan Fahey, Sarah Dallin, Keren
Woodward (Bananarama); Paul Weller; Robert Bell,
Dennis Thomas, James Taylor (Kool and the Gang);
Peter Blake (designer of the record cover); George
Michael; Marilyn; Jody Watley; Boy George, Jon
Moss (Culture Club); Sting; Rick Parfitt, Francis
Rossi (Status Quo)
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.
this massive success (the single reached number
one in the charts) preparations were started for
the biggest rock concerts the world had ever seen,
the following summer.
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.
13 July 1985, Geldof and Ure organized Live Aid,
a mammoth event staged simultaneously at 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.
was the most monumental stage show in history
with Phil Collins flying on Concorde so that he
could play at both Wembley and Philadelphia on
the same day.
the broadcast of Live Aid, Geldof shocked viewers
into giving cash by slamming his fist on the table
and practically ordering them not to go out to
the pub, but 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.
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
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
The Commission for Africa
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
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 can 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 Live 8 concerts
the 31 March 2005, Geldof and Ure announced the
Live 8 project, to raise awareness of issues that
burden Africa, such as government debt, trade
barriers, and AIDS issues. Geldof organised six
concerts on 2 July 2005: in London, with U2, Elton
John, Coldplay, Velvet Revolver, Pink Floyd, The
Who, Madonna, and Paul McCartney; in Paris, with
Andrea Bocelli, Muse; and 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 Bon Jovi, Linkin Park, Dave Matthews, Sarah
McLachlan, and Stevie Wonder; Barrie, Ontario,
Canada with Neil Young, The Barenaked Ladies,
Bryan Adams, Deep Purple, Gordon Lightfoot and
the Tragically Hip. Pink Floyd's performance in
London was its first since 1981 to include original
bassist, Roger Waters.
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.
is where the concerts took place and who performed:
Saturday 2nd July, 2005.
– Hyde Park, London
– Palais de Versailles, Paris
– Siegessäule, Berlin
– Circus Maximus, Rome
–Museum of Art, Philadelphia
–Park Place, Barrie
–Makuhari Messe, Tokyo
Africa –Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown,
Russian Federation - Red Square, Moscow
- The Eden Project
Criticism of Live 8
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
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.
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.'
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.
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' (Professor 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 cynics
have claimed that Live 8 had been more about rehabilitating
the careers of aging rock stars, including Geldof
himself, than it was about the poor people of
Africa. However, Geldof has made no attempt to
revive his music career, somewhat disproving this
accusation. However, the New Internationalist
points out that since becoming prominent in the
salvation of Africa, "Geldof has re-released
the entire back catalogue of the Boomtown Rats,
Noel Gallagher became one of the more vocal skeptics
about the impact of Live 8, citing his belief
that rock stars are not as influencing 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,
1992, Geldof co-founded Planet 24, a television
production company that has made such programmes
as The Big Breakfast, The Word and Survivor. In
1994, the company was sold to Carlton Television
for an estimated $7 million, while the rights
to Survivor were retained. He then launched an
online travel business, which sold in 2001 for
an estimated $17 million. His company Ten Alps
Communications is a media, entertainment and marketing
venture in which he retains 8%. A subsidiary of
Ten Alps creates 'branded environments' and has
worked for BP, JP Morgan, EMI, Disney, FHM, L'oreal,
the British Ministry of Defence, GlaxoSmithKline,
Microsoft and the British Foreign Office.
Career after the Boomtown Rats
left the Boomtown Rats in 1986, to launch a solo
career and release his autobiography, Is That
It?, which was a best-seller.
first solo records sold reasonably well and spawned
the hit singles "Love or Something"
(co-written with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics) and
"The Great Song of Indifference". He
also occasionally performed with other artists,
such as Thin Lizzy and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
A performance of "Comfortably Numb"
with David Gilmour is documented in the 2002 DVD
David Gilmour in Concert.
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 to call Geldof 'the world's worst DJ'.
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"
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.
July of 2006 Geldof arrived at the Milan's Civic
Arena, 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 showed up.. Geldof refused
to go on stage once he found out how small the
attendance was. Subsequently, the remaining two
Italian concerts on the island of Sicily and in
Rome were also cancelled due to lack of interest,
the latter having sold only around 300 tickets.
To offer some compensation for fans, Geldof played
a free "Storytellers" concert for MTV
Italy in October 2006.
August 2006, two thoroughly advertised concerts
in Denmark at Århus Stadion and Farum Arena,
with seating for 20,200 and 3,000 people respectively,
were cancelled as well after only 29 tickets had
been sold. Local media cited general lack of interest
as well as high ticket prices of €65 as the
reason for the poor sales.
Live Aid, Geldof became one of the world's most
recognisable people. He also became particularly
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 studio during Live Aid. However,
this is slightly innacurate; he actually said
'fuck the addresses, just give us the money'.
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.
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.
Awards and honours
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 even media reports will frequently (but erroneously)
refer to him as 'Sir Bob Geldof' as if that were
his correct title.
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 was still living there
in 2006. He received his award during a special
meeting of the Swale Borough Council from the
Mayor, Cllr Richard Moreton and Mayoress Rose
works closely with DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa),
an organization founded by U2's Bono to advocate
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.
a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman,
in 2006, he was voted third in the list of 'Heroes
of our time'.
2005, Bob Geldof received the Free Your Mind Award
at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
2006, Bob Geldof was the recipient of the Lyndon
Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award by Holocaust
2007, Bob Geldof was made an Honorary Fellow at
the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
views and controversies
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".
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.
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."
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.
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."
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'".
December 2005, Geldof agreed to give advice on
global poverty to the British 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.
is profitably involved in business activities,
and was rumoured for a time to be considering
seeking election to the office of President of
Ireland in 2004. He was snubbed by all political
parties, at one point waiting three hours for
a meeting before realising.
2006, Geldof was outed as having an affair with
British actress Claire King in her autobiography,
Confessions of a Bad Girl. Their on-off relationship
allegedly started in 1979, when King was 17, and
finished in February of 1984. Part of their relationship
would have overlapped with Geldof's association
with Paula Yates, including her pregnancy and
the birth of their daughter, Fifi Trixibelle.
The song 'Skin on Skin' on the album V Deep was
supposedly written for/about King. Geldof has
been quoted as saying "I have no recollection
of a Claire King... affair, my arse... It's possible
she was one of the girls I met on the road, there
were so many, that I don't recall the name."
King changed her surname from 'Seed' after their
alleged relationship and this has been cited as
a possible reason for Geldof's reticence.
Alps, a PR, broadcast and television company,
was founded by Alex Connock, Bob Geldof and Des
Shaw. Connock bought Planet 24 Radio for £1,
on the day that Carlton Television acquired Geldof's
previous company Planet 24 for a reported £15
million. Ten Alps posted profits of £600,000
in 2005, on a turnover of £37,000,000.
Lapping, a part of the Ten Alps Empire, were the
first to produce a 'documentary' on Flight 93,
'The flight that fought back' as well as producing
'9/11: The Twin Towers' which was screened on
BBC to 6.4 million viewers. Both are considered
works of dramatic fiction.
wealth was estimated by Broadcast magazine, in
2001, to be £30 million , a position of
18th in a list of UK broadcasters. How much of
his earnings he donates to charity is not known.
He is currently embroiled in a legal wrangle with
his former bandmates in the Boomtown Rats, who
accuse him of withholding substantial profits
from the band's recordings from them.
Geldof was awarded a honorary degree in Civil
Law from Newcastle University, England. The University
held a special honorary degree ceremony to honour
key figures in the campaign against world poverty.
The ceremony was held at The Sage Gateshead on
8 January 2007, at 2.00 pm.
Geldof, initiator and organizer of Band Aid, Live
Aid and, more recently, Live 8, was honoured along
with His Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa, former
President of Tanzania; Susan George, political
economist and author of a dozen books on hunger,
debt, international institutions and North-South
issues; and Dr David Golding, Development Co-ordinator
of Make Poverty History North East.
played the central character Pink in the film
of Pink Floyd's The Wall, and made a cameo appearance
as himself in the Spice Girls' pop music satire
also starred in the 2007 short film 'I am Bob'
in which he loses a look-a-like contest (even
after singing the Boomtown Rats' hit I Don't Like
Geldoff official website