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Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof

Geldof formed the punk group Boomtown Rats in 1975. During the band's existence, it moved from the pure energy and aggression of hits like "Looking After No. 1" to the more sophisticated, but still provocative, "I Don't Like Mondays" (its title derived from the answer given by a San Diego schoolgirl when asked why she'd killed her classmates). The band became a moderate success in the U.K., though it never really broke through in the U.S.

Bob Geldof, KBE (born October 5, 1951 in Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin as Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof) is an Irish singer, songwriter and humanitarian. In his 1986 autobiography (with Paul Vallely) Is That It? (ISBN 014009363X), Geldof notes that his surname is extremely rare in Ireland and first appeared with his grandfather, who immigrated from Belgium at the start of the twentieth century.

Geldof first came to fame in the mid-1970s as leader of the Boomtown Rats, a rock group closely linked with the punk movement. In 1978, they had their first Number 1 single with "Rat Trap", which was the first new wave chart-topper in the UK. The follow-up, "I Don't Like Mondays", was equally successful and also massively controversial, as Geldof wrote it in the aftermath of Brenda Ann Spencer's attempted massacre at her school in San Diego, California at the beginning of 1979. The band wrote the song immediately and it was at Number 1 in the UK before the end of the year.

Geldof quickly became known as a colorful spokesman for rock music. Their first appearance on Ireland's Late Late Show led to complaints from viewers. He had limited success as an actor, his most notable role being in the 1982 film of Pink Floyd's The Wall.

The Rats did not remain for long at the top of the tree, and by 1984 their career had declined sharply. It was in November of that year that Geldof saw a BBC news report by Michael Buerk on the famine in Ethiopia and vowed to do something about it. Aware that he could do little on his own, he called Midge Ure from Ultravox and together they quickly co-wrote the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?".

Geldof kept a November appointment with BBC Radio 1 DJ Richard Skinner to appear on his show, but instead of discussing his new album (the original reason for his booking), he used his airtime to publicize the idea for the charity single, so by the time the musicians were recruited there was intense media interest in the subject.

Using powers of persuasion which have since become a major part of the Geldof legend, he put together a group (Band Aid), consisting of leading British rock and pop musicians, all of whom were at the very top of the industry.

The single was released just before Christmas with the aim of raising money for the relief of the famine. Geldof's somewhat cautious hope was for 70,000 pounds. Ultimately, however, the song raised many millions of pounds and became the biggest-selling single in UK chart history.


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Bob Geldof

Artist Biography - Bob Geldof

The idea was copied in the States a few months later, with the song "We Are The World", co-written by Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Geldof's first point of contact Lionel Richie. It topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Geldof attended the recording, which took place immediately after the 1985 Grammy awards, and sang on the chorus at the end.

Not content with the enormous success of the Band Aid single, Geldof went on to organize (and perform with the Rats at) the massive charity concert Live Aid, which raised unprecedented sums for the cause, and traveled all over the globe raising money. He even challenged Margaret Thatcher, the then Prime Minister of the UK, leading to a major re-evaluation of British government policy towards famine relief. In recognition of this work, he has received many awards, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. As a non-British subject the Irish-born Geldof was legally precluded from being awarded a full knighthood, and use of the title "Sir". However, he is commonly, if inaccurately, referred to as "Sir Bob Geldof" (and even "Saint Bob" by certain fans).

By now, Geldof was one of the world's most recognizable and admired men -- and also one of the most foul-mouthed. Known for swearing in order to make his point, regardless of the audience or time of day, he was parodied as a man who uttered obscenities every other word. Most famously, he exhorted viewers to "give us your fuckin' money" during an afternoon stint in the BBC's Wembley studio at the Live Aid telethon. Sitting in the studio with him at the time were Andrew Ridgeley and Billy Connolly. The phrase has become synonymous with Geldof.

The Boomtown Rats had split by this time, and Geldof returned to his career as a musician, successfully releasing a series of solo albums. He also performed with David Gilmour. Along with U2's Bono, he has devoted much time since 2000 to campaigning against debt in Africa.

As Geldof became world-famous, his personal life was affected by bitter tragedy. He had met long-term partner Paula Yates when, as a rock journalist, she became an obsessed fan of the Rats in their early days: they got together as a couple when she hopped on an aeroplane to Paris to surprise him when the band were playing gigs there.

The couple married in 1986 after a long and happy courtship and they had two more daughters, Peaches Geldof and Pixie Geldof to follow their eldest Fifi Trixibelle, who was born prior to their wedding. Simon Le Bon was Geldof's best man.

Yates, former presenter of cutting-edge music show The Tube, left Geldof for Michael Hutchence, singer with INXS, whom she met when interviewing him on The Big Breakfast, the show produced by Geldof's production company after it won the contract to provide a morning news and entertainment show for Channel 4.

Yates had another daughter by Hutchence. When Hutchence committed suicide in 1997, Geldof went to court and obtained custody of the four daughters. Geldof's experiences during his divorce have led him to become an outspoken advocate of fathers' rights. After Yates' death from an overdose, Geldof became the legal guardian of her daughter with Hutchence, believing that she should be raised with her sisters.

Geldof is profitably involved in business activities and was rumored for a time to be considering seeking election to the office of President of Ireland in 2004.

In 2004 he was asked to participate in DMC Records Under the Influence series, a project that compiles songs that influenced the chosen performer's career, with extensive liner notes from the artists themselves.


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