Bob Geldof

The boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis. -- Bob Geldof

I know all the musicians taking part are the creme de la creme. Since Live Aid, musicians have really stepped up to the plate, like Bono. Bob's always been there. -- Elton John

I'm good at throwing parties and this [Live 8] will be the greatest party ever. -- Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof (1957- ) has two names to fame, as a rock musician and as a political campaigner on aid, debt and fair trade, especially with respect to Africa.

In the late 1970s, early 1980s, Bob Geldof was front man for the Boomtown Rats, an Irish group. Their most notable hit was 'I Don't Like Mondays' (1978).

The Boomtown Rats did not last long, and by 1984 were long past their sell by date. It was in the autumn of that year that Bob Geldof saw and was moved by the film of famine in Ethiopia by Micheal Buerk on BBC TV.

Most people would have left it at that, but not Bob Geldof. He contacted his mate Midge Ure of Ultravox and co-wrote a tacky single called 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', put together an even tackier band called Band Aid, and before they knew it, had a number one hit on their hands.

Geldof hoped to raise somewhere around 70,000 pounds, however, the single became the biggest-selling single of all time (until the release of 'Candle in the Wind' by Elton John in 1997 on the death of Princess Diana) and raised many millions of pounds.

Buoyed up by this success, Geldof and Ure went on to launch Live Aid, the world's biggest ever rock concert, with the world's biggest names.

Live Aid was broadcast simultaneously live from two continents.

Live Aid was nearly lost for ever. The condition on which Bob Geldof got the various artists to appear and to avoid contractual wrangles, was to say it was a one-off concert that would not be recorded. Fortunately the BBC, who were responsible for the London feed from Wembley, ignored Geldof and recorded anyway. ABC who were responsible for the US feed, obeyed Geldof to the letter, and destroyed all their tapes. Copies were deposited with the Smithsonian. These were either lost or stolen.

Live Aid was one of the most watched televised event of the 20th century. People taped the event on their video recorders. Distribution of these pirate tapes via the net eventually forced Bob Geldof to release the 'official' 4-DVD set of Live Aid for Christmas 2004.

Introducing Nelson Mandela to the crowd in Trafalgar Square at the launch of Make Poverty History, Bob Geldof said he was sick of concerts, sick of fund raising, wanted to see action on poverty reduction.

A few months later, he was to launch Live 8, to call upon a million people to descend on Edinburgh to call upon the G8 to finally act to help the poorest of the world.

Live 8, was to be an even bigger spectacular then Live Aid, free concerts in each of the G8 countries London, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Philadelphia, Toronto, Tokyo, Moscow plus additional concerts in Johannesburg and at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Acts lined up included Paul McCartney, Madonna, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Sting, U2, and Geldof himself.

Such was the influence of Geldof that Pink Floyd reformed for Live 8.

Tickets for the London event were distributed in a novel way, by lottery by text messages. On the day it was announced, 1 million text messages by mid afternoon, 1.5 million by early evening, by the end of the first day, 2 million text messages.

Each text messages cost 1-50 to send. The first 1.6 raised was to go to the Prince's Trust, then to cover Live 8 expenses, then to the Live Aid Trust.

In total 2,060,285 text messages were sent. At 1-50 per text message, this rasied over 3 million pounds.

On the day the text lottery was announced for tickets for the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park in London, Bob Geldof launched Sail 8. Sailors were urged to cross the English Channel in a modern-day Dunkirk to pick up protesters from France to join the Long March for Justice.

When Nelson Mandela, with Bob Geldof at his side, launched Make Poverty History in Trafalgar Square in London, he called upon the people of the world to rise up in their millions and demand justice for the poor, what they wanted was justice not charity. For people to descend on Edinburgh in July and put pressure on the G8 leaders who were to be meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland, an exclusive hotel and golf course.

When Bob Geldof launched Live 8, he repeated that call, for people to join the Long March for Justice, for a million people to descend on Edinburgh and put pressure on the G8. And in case people had not got the message he repeated the call at the Hay Literature Festival, then raising the anti still further, a few days later called for a modern-day Dunkirk, for sailors to sail across to France and bring back protesters.

Although best known for his campaigning on Third World issues, debt, aid and trade justice, Geldof has also campaigned on the rights of fathers and against the euro.

Musician and campaigner, Geldof is also a successful business man and entrepreneur.

At the beginning of 2005, before he launched Live 8, Geldof topped a poll of listeners of BBC Radio 4's Today programme of people they would most like to see elevated to the House of Lords, with 36% of the vote. If Geldof were raised to the Peerage, his Irish citizenship would not be an impediment to his sitting in the Lords, as British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens are all eligible provided they are resident in Britain. Geldof subsequently said that he would consider accepting a peerage if offered one, if it did not interfere with his charitable work.

Geldof works closely with DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), an organization founded by U2's Bono to advocate for Africa.


Music ~ Live Aid ~ Live 8
(c) Keith Parkins 2005 -- July 2005 rev 1