Bob Geldof

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Bob Geldof

BobGeldof2014 1.jpg
Bob Geldof in October 2014
Background information
Birth nameRobert Frederick Zenon Geldof
Born (1951-10-05) 5 October 1951 (age 67)
Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, activist, philanthropist, actor, Radio DJ
Years active1975–present
Associated acts

Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof, KBE ( /ˈɡɛldɒf/ ; [1] born 5 October 1951) is an Irish singer-songwriter, author, political activist and occasional actor. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s, who achieved popularity at the time of the punk rock movement. The band had UK number one hits with his compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". [2] [3] Geldof co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles of all time, [2] [4] [5] and starred in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall as "Pink".

Irish people Ethnic group with Celtic and other roots, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Rock music has been a part of the music of Ireland since the 1960s, when the British Invasion brought British blues, psychedelic rock and other styles to the island. The Irish music scene in the 1960s and much of the 1970s was dominated by the unique Irish phenomenon of the 'Showbands' which were groups of professional performers who played at dancehalls and clubs across the country putting on a professional 'show' and playing all the American and British hits of the era. From the mid-1970s onwards rock music in Ireland has followed a similar path to rock music in Britain.


Geldof is widely recognised for his activism, especially anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa. [6] In 1984, he and Midge Ure founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. [4] They went on to organise the charity super-concert Live Aid the following year and the Live 8 concerts in 2005. [7] Geldof currently serves as an adviser to the ONE Campaign, co-founded by fellow Irish rock singer and activist Bono, [8] and 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. A single father, Geldof has also been outspoken for the fathers' rights movement. [9]

Activism efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, religious, economic, or environmental change, or stasis

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.

Midge Ure Scottish guitarist, singer, keyboard player, and songwriter

James "Midge" Ure is a Scottish musician, singer-songwriter and producer. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of Jim, the diminutive form of his given name.

Band Aid was a charity supergroup featuring mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists. It was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK on Monday 3 December. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Three subsequent re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts, first the Band Aid II version in 1989 and the Band Aid 20 version in 2004 and finally the Band Aid 30 version in 2014. The original was produced by Midge Ure. The 12" version was mixed by Trevor Horn.

Geldof was appointed Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by 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. [10] [11] In 2005, he received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

Elizabeth II Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms

Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.

The title Man of Peace was created in 1999 by the annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome. The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals who "from personalities from the world of culture and entertainment who have stood up for human rights and for the spread of the principles of Peace and Solidarity in the world, made an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace".

Brit Awards British pop music awards

The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual popular music awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain", or "Britannia", but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trusts Show. In addition, an equivalent awards ceremony for classical music, called the Classic BRIT Awards, is held in the month of May. Robbie Williams holds the record for the most BRIT Awards, 13 as a solo artist and another five as part of Take That.

Early life

Geldof was born and brought up in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, a son of Robert and Evelyn Geldof. [4] [12] His paternal grandfather, Zenon Geldof, was a Belgian immigrant [13] and a hotel chef. [13] [14] His paternal grandmother, Amelia Falk, was a British Jew from London. [13] [14] [15] When Geldof was six or seven, his mother, Evelyn, 41, died of a cerebral haemorrhage.

Dún Laoghaire Town in Leinster, Ireland

Dún Laoghaire is a suburban coastal town in County Dublin, Ireland, about 12 km south of Dublin city centre. It is the county town of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. Formerly a major port of entry from Great Britain, it was known as Dunleary until 1821 when it was renamed Kingstown in honour of King George IV's visit that year, and in 1920 was given its present name, the original Irish form of Dunleary.

British Jews are British citizens who are ethnically and/or religiously Jewish. The number of people identifying as Jews in England and Wales rose slightly between 2001 and 2011, with the growth being due to the high birth rate of the ultra-Orthodox community.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Geldof attended Blackrock College, where he was bullied for being a poor rugby player and for his middle name, Zenon. [16] After work as a slaughterman, a road navvy and pea canner in Wisbech, he was hired as a music journalist in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for The Georgia Straight . [17] He briefly guest hosted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation children's program Switchback .

Blackrock College

Blackrock College is an independent day and boarding Catholic secondary school for boys aged 13–18, in Williamstown, Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland. It was founded by French missionary Pére Jules Leman CSSp in 1860 as a school and civil service training centre.

Navvy navigational engineers

Navvy, a shorter form of navigator (UK) or navigational engineer (US), is particularly applied to describe the manual labourers working on major civil engineering projects and occasionally to refer to mechanical shovels and earth moving machinery. The term was coined in the late 18th century in Great Britain when numerous canals were being built, which were also sometimes known as "navigations", or "eternal navigations", intended to last forever.

Wisbech Town and civil parish in Norfolk, England

Wisbech is a Fenland market town, inland port and civil parish in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England. It had a population of 31,573 in 2011. The town lies in the far north-east of the county, bordering Norfolk and only 5 miles (8 km) south of Lincolnshire. The tidal River Nene running through the town centre is spanned by two bridges. Before the Local Government Act 1972 came into force in 1974 Wisbech was a municipal borough.

Musical career

The Boomtown Rats

Returning to Ireland in 1975, he became lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, a rock group closely linked with the punk movement.

The Boomtown Rats band

The Boomtown Rats are an Irish rock band that had a series of Irish and UK hits between 1977 and 1985. The group is led by vocalist Bob Geldof. The other members of the original line-up were Garry Roberts, Johnnie Fingers (keyboards), Pete Briquette (bass), Gerry Cott and Simon Crowe (drums). The Boomtown Rats broke up in 1986, but reformed in 2013, without Johnnie Fingers or Gerry Cott.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

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". [18] 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. [19]

In 1980, The Boomtown Rats released the album Mondo Bongo . Its single "Up All Night" was a huge hit in the U.S. and its video was played frequently on MTV. [20]

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. [21]

In January 2013, Geldof announced The Boomtown Rats would be reforming to play together for the first time since 1986 at that year's Isle of Wight Festival in June. They have subsequently announced further tour dates and released a new CD Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits . [22]

After the Boomtown Rats

Geldof performing as a solo artist in 1987 Bob Geldof Rock am Ring 1987.jpg
Geldof performing as a solo artist in 1987

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 Eurythmics) and "The Great Song of Indifference". He also occasionally performed with other artists, such as David Gilmour and Thin Lizzy. A performance of "Comfortably Numb" with 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 jokingly claimed to have co-written with Mercury, called "Too Late God". The song was actually co-written by Karl Hyde.

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. [23] 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". [24]

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.

In 2002, he was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons in a poll conducted among the general public, [25] despite not being British.

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 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. [26] 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.

Charity work

Geldof performing with Die Toten Hosen at Your Voice Against Poverty concert in Rostock, Germany on 7 June 2007 Breiti, Campino, Bob Geldof.jpg
Geldof performing with Die Toten Hosen at Your Voice Against Poverty concert in Rostock, Germany on 7 June 2007

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. [27]

Band Aid

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. [28] 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 3 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 number 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.

New versions of Do They Know It's Christmas were recorded in 1989 and 2004. In November 2014, Geldof announced that he would be forming a further incarnation of Band Aid, to be known as Band Aid 30, to record an updated version of the charity single, with the proceeds going to treat victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa. [29]

Live Aid

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 the obligation to make 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.

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 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 [30] that he yelled at the audience, "Give us your fucking money!" although Geldof has stated that this phrase was never uttered. [31] 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 subsequently received an honorary knighthood, at age 34, for his efforts. His autobiography, written soon after with Paul Vallely, was entitled Is That It?. [32] This book achieved further fame for being featured on the General Certificate of Secondary Education 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. [33] [34] 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. [35]

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 telephoned 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." [36]

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. [37] The 2013 report outlined 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. [38]

Live 8 concerts

Geldof at a Live 8: DVD signing Geldofsigning.jpg
Geldof at a Live 8: DVD signing

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 ten 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. [39] 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. [40] Pink Floyd's performance in London was their first since 1981 to include original vocalist/bassist, Roger Waters, and the last to include keyboardist Rick Wright before his death in 2008.

Criticism of his charity work

Bob Geldof performing at the Conspiracy of Hope concert on 15 June 1986 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Bob Geldof-Conspiracy of Hope-by Steven Toole.jpg
Bob Geldof performing at the Conspiracy of Hope concert on 15 June 1986 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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. [41]

Geldof was also criticised for the lack of African acts performing at Live 8. [42] 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, [43] labelled Kumi Naidoo's criticism of the summit "a disgrace". [44] 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.' [45]

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. [46]

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 scathingly stated, since becoming prominent in the salvation of Africa, "Geldof has re-released the entire back catalogue of the Boomtown Rats." [45]

Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher became one of the more vocal skeptics 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? [47]


Geldof swore on CD:UK , saying "Fuck the tape" while concluding his chat with Cat Deeley. [48] 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". [49] Then, in mid-July 2006, he infuriated many New Zealanders by criticising the New Zealand government's foreign aid contribution as "shameful" and "pathetic". [50] Winston Peters, the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded that Geldof failed to recognize the "quality" of New Zealand aid as well as other New Zealand contributions. [51]

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. [52]

AIDS 2014 Conference

During a special session at the XX International AIDS Conference, 2014, Geldof referred to sex workers as "hookers", [53] for which he was subsequently criticised. Christian Vega, a sex workers' rights activist and a member of Victoria's peer-only Victorian Sex Industry Network (VIXEN), blamed speakers including Geldof for their use of pejorative language, which perpetuated the very stigmas that are among the key barriers to HIV prevention. [54] Geldof responded to the criticism during the closing session of the conference: "I read today in the paper that my talk yesterday was littered with profanities – fuck them." In Geldof's view, rights-based language hampered HIV prevention, and he defended using terms such as "hookers" and "junkies": "Let's not get distracted by diversionary language. Let's call it as it is." [55] In a radio show after the conference on Joy 94.9, Vega dismissed Geldof's view that rights-based language was a waste of time as "ridiculous", as it served as an important tool to challenge stigma and discrimination, particularly within an HIV context. [56]


By 1992, Geldof had established himself as a businessman through co-ownership of the TV production company Planet 24, which featured 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. [57]

The Dictionary of Man, announced by Geldof in 2007, is a project he started with director John Maguire, and which is financed by the BBC. [58] [59] It was planned that the collected material would be displayed on a website, and be available for distribution through DVDs, books, magazines, CDs, and exhibitions. [60] Geldof reportedly had been planning it since he visited Niger in the 1980s and became aware of the number of native languages becoming lost forever as native speakers died. [61]

As of 2009, he has been patron of the Exeter Entrepreneurs Society at the University of Exeter. [62]

Geldof is chairman of 8 Miles, a private equity firm active in Africa. [63] [64]


In 2002, he became a founding partner of Groupcall, [65] which specialises in providing communication software and data extraction tools to the education, public and business sectors. [66] His initial involvement arose from concerns for his children's safety. [67]



In 2002, Geldof appeared in an advertisement opposing the possibility of the United Kingdom joining the single EU currency, saying it was "not anti-European to be against the euro". [68] He also criticised the European Union in 2004 for what he called its "pathetic" response to Ethiopia's food crisis. [69] MEP Glenys Kinnock responded that Geldof's comments were "unhelpful and misinformed". [70]

In 2003, during a visit to Ethiopia, Geldof praised U.S. President George W. Bush's proposal to fight AIDS in Africa. [71]

In December 2005, Geldof agreed to give advice on global poverty to the Conservative Party. [72] He stated, however, that he was uninterested in party politics: "I've said I'll shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to where we need to be." [73]

Geldof was a vocal supporter of the unsuccessful campaign for the UK to vote "Remain" in the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. Shortly before the vote, in what was described as the "most surreal day in British politics ever", [74] Geldof led a flotilla on the River Thames to attack an opposition flotilla led by Eurosceptic politician Nigel Farage. [75] Later that year, Geldof campaigned for the Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney at the Richmond Park by-election. [76] He described Brexit as "the greatest act of national self-harm" in British history and vowed to "undermine" Theresa May every step of the way. He said the EU was "a mess" but warned Britain's young people had their futures "taken from them" as a result of the referendum. [77]

Fathers' rights

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. [78] 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". [79]


In March 2012 expressed concern about rising population and falling water levels in Arab countries. He noted that populations had risen by an average of 1.7 percent a year (compared with the global average of 1.2 percent) while water available had dropped 75 percent since 1950. "Less water means no crops - so it's a perfect storm."

"I think the tipping point has been reached," Geldof said. "There can't be more people on the Earth than we can feed."

Geldof expressed the views of the key value of the education of women on the basis that when women are educated they have fewer children.

Geldof also predicted famine, plague, and wars if the population does not stabilise. And although the (UAE) region has a lower birth rate than others, it could drop further. "We must see the possibility of life, not just to individual children, but to the human species," he said "And I'm not that optimistic." [80]

Awards and honours

Honorary KBE insignia Star Knight Commander of the British Empire.jpg
Honorary KBE insignia

Geldof has received many awards for his fund-raising work including being invested by Elizabeth II as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1986. Geldof is entitled to use the post-nominal letters "KBE" but not to be styled "Sir", as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm; [81] nevertheless the nickname "Sir Bob" has stuck and media reports continue to refer to him as "Sir Bob Geldof". [82]

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 was still living there as of 2013. [83] He received his award during a special meeting of the Swale Borough Council from the mayor, Councillor Richard Moreton, and the mayoress, Rose Moreton.

In 2006 the New Statesman magazine conducted a survey of their readers to find the Heroes of our Time, Geldof was voted third behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. [84]

Other awards:

1985: received an Hon. Master of Arts degree from the University of Kent. [85]

1986: received an honorary doctorate from Ghent University, Belgium. [86]

2004: Geldof received an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia. [87]

2005: received a Man of Peace Award. [88]

2005: received a 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. [89]

2006: awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. [90]

2006: awarded the Freedom of Dublin City for his humanitarian work. [91] On 13 November 2017, Geldof returned the award as a protest over Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi also holding the accolade, stating that he does not "wish to be associated in any way with an individual currently engaged in the mass ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of north-west Burma." [92] He added that if Suu Kyi "is stripped of her Dublin Freedom perhaps the council would see fit to restore to me that which I take such pride in. If not, so be it." [92] One month later, the Dublin City Council voted 592 (with one abstention) to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi's Freedom of the City award over Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya people, though Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha denied the decision was influenced by protests by Geldof and members of U2. [93] [94] At the same meeting, the Councillors voted 377 (with 5 abstentions) to remove Geldof's name from the Roll of Honorary Freemen. [93] [95]

2007: awarded an honorary doctorate of Civil Law from Newcastle University. [96] The University held a special honorary degree ceremony to honour key figures in the campaign against world poverty.

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. [97]

2010: awarded Hon. Master of Arts degree from the University for the Creative Arts. [98]

2011: received an honorary doctorate of Philosophy from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, for his "decades of charity work for humanitarian causes". [99]

2012: received a BETT Award at the BETT Show for 'ICT Company of the Year' on behalf of Groupcall as a founding partner. [100]

2013: awarded the Freedom of the City of London. [101]

2014: awarded with BASCA Gold Badge Award [102] in recognition of his unique contribution to the music industry.

2016: awarded the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) for raising global public awareness and challenging the causes of inequality in Africa - one of two Royal Medals of equal standing presented by the RGS and approved by Her Majesty the Queen. [103]

2019: received an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick. [104]

Personal life

Geldof in 1991 Bob Geldof.jpg
Geldof in 1991

Geldof's longtime girlfriend and first wife was Paula Yates. Yates was a rock journalist, and later became the presenter of the music show The Tube which ran from 1982 to 1987. She 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 became a couple in 1976 when Yates flew to Paris to surprise him when the band was playing there.

Before they were married, the couple had their first daughter, Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, born 31 March 1983 (and while Geldof was still conducting an affair with Claire King). She was named Fifi after Bob's aunt Fifi and Trixibelle because Yates wanted a 'belle' in the family. [4]

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 [105] (known as Peaches Geldof) on 13 March 1989, [106] and Little Pixie Geldof (known as Pixie Geldof) on 17 September 1990. [107] 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.' [108]

In February 1995, Yates left Geldof for Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of Australian band INXS, whom she had first met in 1985 when she interviewed him on The Tube. Geldof and Yates divorced in May 1996. Yates later moved in with Hutchence, and they had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence (known as Tiger).

Hutchence committed suicide in a Sydney, Australia, hotel room on 22 November 1997. After Hutchence's death, Geldof and Yates each gave police statements on the phone calls they exchanged with Hutchence that morning but did not volunteer their phone records. Yates' statement on 26 November included "He was frightened and couldn't stand a minute more without his baby ... [he] was terribly upset and he said, 'I don't know how I'll live without seeing Tiger.'" Yates contended that Geldof had repeatedly said, "Don't forget, I am above the law," referring to his influence since Live Aid. [109] Geldof's police statements and evidence to the coroner indicated that he patiently listened to Hutchence who was "hectoring and abusive and threatening." A friend of Yates and Geldof confirmed the substance of this call and added that Geldof had said, "I know what time the call ended, it was 20 to 7, I was going to log it as a threatening call." The occupant in the hotel room next to Hutchence's heard a loud male voice and swearing at about 5:00 a.m. The coroner was satisfied that this voice was Hutchence arguing with Geldof. [110] [111]

Geldof soon after went to court and obtained full custody of his own three children. He has since become an outspoken advocate of fathers' rights. After Yates' death from a drug and alcohol overdose in 2000, Geldof became the legal guardian of Tiger Hutchence. In 2007, Geldof formally adopted her and changed her surname to Geldof, despite opposition from Hutchence's mother and his half-sister Tina. [112] Since January 2008, her legal full name has been Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof but she goes by Tiger Hutchence-Geldof.

In 2014, Geldof hoped 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. [113]

In April 2014, his daughter Peaches died at the age of 25, of a heroin overdose. [114] [115] Geldof stated the family was "beyond pain" after he confirmed the news of her death. [116] [117]

Geldof announced his engagement to French actress Jeanne Marine, his partner of 18 years, on 1 May 2014, and they were married in France on 28 April 2015. [118] [119] [120] They currently reside in Battersea, South London. [121]

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." [122] He is an atheist. [123]

According to The Sunday Times Rich List, Geldof was worth £32 million in 2012. [124]


Solo albums

YearTitlePeak chart positions
1986 Deep in the Heart of Nowhere 792731815130
1990 The Vegetarians of Love
  • Released: July 1990
  • Label: Mercury (UK) / Atlantic (US)
1993 The Happy Club
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: Mercury (UK) / Atlantic (US)
2001 Sex, Age & Death
  • Released: October 2001
  • Label: Mercury (UK) / Atlantic (US)
2010 How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell
  • Released: 12 October 2010
  • Label: Mercury (UK) / Atlantic (US)
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Compilation albums

YearTitlePeak chart positions
1994 Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats
  • includes solo recordings and Boomtown Rats songs
  • Released: July 1994
  • Label: Vertigo
2005Great Songs of Indifference: The Anthology 1986–2001
  • Box Set including the first 4 solo albums
  • Released: 2005
  • Label: Mercury
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.


YearTitleChart positionsAlbum
1986"This Is the World Calling"25281291101882
Deep in the Heart of Nowhere
1987"Love Like a Rocket"611821761160
"Heartless Heart"
"I Cry Too"
"In the Pouring Rain"
1990"The Great Song of Indifference"1520716Vegetarians of Love
"Love or Something"8655
"A Gospel Song"
1992"Room 19 (Sha La La La Lee)"53Happy Club
"My Hippy Angel"
1993"The Happy Club"
"Yeah, Definitely"
1994"Crazy"6572Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof & the Boomtown Rats
1996"Rat Trap"
(Dustin & Geldof)
2002"Pale White Girls"Sex Age & Death
2011"Silly Pretty Thing"146How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell
"Here's To You"
Table Notes

Film appearances

See also

Related Research Articles

Michael Hutchence Australian musician and actor

Michael Kelland John Hutchence was an Australian musician, singer-songwriter and actor who co-founded the rock band INXS, which sold over 60 million records worldwide and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001. Hutchence was the lead singer and lyricist of INXS from 1977 until his death. According to rock music historian Ian McFarlane, "Hutchence was the archetypal rock showman. He exuded an overtly sexual, macho cool with his flowing locks, and lithe and exuberant stage movements." Hutchence was named 'Best International Artist' at the 1991 BRIT Awards, with INXS winning the related group award.

Live Aid 1985 benefit concert

Live Aid was a dual-venue benefit concert held on Saturday 13 July 1985, and an ongoing music-based fundraising initiative. The original event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. Billed as the "global jukebox", the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

Paula Yates British television presenter and writer

Paula Elizabeth Yates was an English television presenter and writer, best known for her work on two television programmes, The Tube and The Big Breakfast. She was in a relationship with musician Bob Geldof from 1976 to 1996. Yates died of a heroin overdose in 2000.

Do They Know Its Christmas? 1984 song performed by Band Aid

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in reaction to television reports of the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time. The single was released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1984 and aided by considerable publicity it entered the UK Singles Chart at number one and stayed there for five weeks, becoming the Christmas number one of 1984. The record became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling a million copies in the first week alone and passing 3 million on the last day of 1984, on the way to displacing Wings's "Mull of Kintyre" as the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK. It held this title until 1997 when it was overtaken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", released in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales following her death. The original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has sold 3.8 million copies in the UK to date.

David Hepworth is a music journalist, writer and publishing industry analyst who has launched several successful British magazines. He was instrumental in the foundation of a number of popular magazines in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and with Mark Ellen turned the 1980s English pop magazine "Smash Hits" into one of the most popular magazines of its era.

<i>A Tonic for the Troops</i> 1978 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

A Tonic for the Troops is the second album by The Boomtown Rats. It was released in 1978 and included the hit singles "She's So Modern", "Like Clockwork" and "Rat Trap". The album peaked at No. 8 in the UK Albums Chart in 1978.

Live 8 benefit concerts held in 2005

Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland from 6–8 July 2005. Both events also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Run in support of the aims of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign and the Global Call for Action Against Poverty, ten simultaneous concerts were held on 2 July and one on 6 July. On 7 July, the G8 leaders pledged to double 2004 levels of aid to poor nations from US$25 billion to US$50 billion by the year 2010. Half of the money was to go to Africa.

<i>V Deep</i> 1982 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

V Deep was The Boomtown Rats' fifth album, and the first to be released after guitarist Gerry Cott left the group. It includes the minor hit single "House on Fire".

Pixie Geldof English model and singer

Little Pixie Geldof is an English model and singer. She is the third daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates.

Pete Briquette Irish bass guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter

Patrick Martin Cusack, known by the stage name Pete Briquette, is an Irish bassist, record producer and composer. He was a member of the Boomtown Rats and currently plays in Bob Geldof's band.

Rat Trap single by The Boomtown Rats

"Rat Trap" is a single by The Boomtown Rats, which reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in November 1978, the first single by a punk or new wave act to do so. It was written by Bob Geldof, and produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. It replaced "Summer Nights", a hit single for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the soundtrack of Grease, at number one in the UK chart after "Summer Nights" seven week reign at the top.

I Dont Like Mondays song by Bob Geldof

"I Don't Like Mondays" is a song by Irish group The Boomtown Rats about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego. It was released in 1979 as the lead single from their third album, The Fine Art of Surfacing. The song was a number one single in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks during the summer of 1979, and ranks as the sixth biggest hit of the UK in 1979. Written by Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers, the piano ballad was the band's second single to reach number one on the UK chart.

<i>Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats</i> 1994 greatest hits album by The Boomtown Rats

Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats is a 1994 greatest hits compilation album from Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, consisting mostly of Boomtown Rats material but also some of Geldof's solo work. It peaked at No. 10 in the UK Albums Chart in July 1994.

Gerry Cott was a guitarist and songwriter with the Irish new wave band, The Boomtown Rats. He started playing flamenco guitar when he was 11 years old. In 1966 he saw Bob Dylan performing live in Dublin and the experience influenced him radically.

"Someone's Looking at You" was the third and final single from The Boomtown Rats' album The Fine Art of Surfacing. It peaked at number two on the Irish Singles Chart and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1980.

Peaches Geldof British journalist, television presenter and model

Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof-Cohen was an English columnist, television personality, and model. She was the second daughter of musician Bob Geldof and television presenter Paula Yates.

"Lookin' After No. 1" is the first single by The Boomtown Rats. It appears on their first album The Boomtown Rats. The single was released in August 1977 after the band had performed a five date tour supporting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. "Lookin' After No. 1" was the first so-called new wave single to be play listed by the BBC and the Boomtown Rats subsequently became the first new wave band to be offered an appearance on Top Of The Pops performing the song. The song reached number 2 on the Irish Singles Chart and spent nine weeks in the UK Singles Chart reaching a peak of number 11. Different covers were produced for releases in the Netherlands and Japan. Reviewer David Clancy described the song as having a "breakneck sneering selfishness".

<i>Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits</i> 2013 greatest hits album by The Boomtown Rats

Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits is the fifth greatest hits album by Irish band The Boomtown Rats. It was released by Virgin EMI on 9 September 2013. The album was announced in June 2013 along with news of the band's UK and Ireland tour. Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits is the first album to be released since The Boomtown Rats reunited and the band's first greatest hits album since 2003's The Best of The Boomtown Rats. The album contains fourteen of the group's singles, as well as two new tracks, "The Boomtown Rats" and "Back To Boomtown". The digital version of the album features two additional songs. Following its release, Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits debuted at number thirty-five on the Irish Albums Chart.


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