Bob Geldof


Life
1954- [Robert Frederick Xenon Geldof; var. 1952]; b. 5 Oct. Blackrock [St Michael’s Hosp., Dun Laoghaire]; a son of Robert and Evelyn Geldof; g.s. of Zenon and Amelia [nee Falk], Geldof - Belgian mater-chef who settled in Ireland, founded of Cafe Geldof, and supplier of Belgian goods; raised singly with his sis. Lynn by his father, a commercial traveller, following the sudden death of his mother [aetat. 41, from cerebral haemorrhage], at Merrion Ave., Co. Dublin; ed. Blackrock College;
 
worked in England in a slaughterhouse, as a navvy, and as a pea-canner in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire; moved to Canada and worked he was as a music journalist on The Georgia Straight (Vancouver); briefly acted as guest-host on the CBC children’s programme Switchback; returned to Ireland, 1975; worked as journalist wth New Musical Express [NME]; fndr. & lead-singer of “The Boomtown Rats”, 1975-86 - named after a gang mentioned in Woodie Guthrie's autobiography; members incl. Pete Briquette, Johnny Fingers, Gary Roberts, Simon Crowe and Gerry Cott, all from Dun Laoghaire; group moved to London, October 1976;
 
signed with Ensign Records; issued “Lookin’ After No. 1”, debut single, August 1977, and reached No. 11 in the charts, the first of ten subsequent singles to do so; released The Boomtown Rats, LP (Sept. 1977), appeared on ITV, Nov. 1978; released A Tonic for the Troops (Feb. 1979); knocked Olivia Newton-John off top of charts with “Rat Trap”, 1979; toured US in 1979; had a mega-hit record with “I Don’t Like Mondays”, inspired by news-story of a high-school student Brenda Spencer who shot her classmates in San Diego on 29th January 1979; banned on US radio for reasons of legal jeopardy; issued The Fine Art of Surfacing, LP (1979); toured Europe, USA, Japan and Australia, 1980;
 
appeared on Late Late Show hosted by Gay Byrne and made confrontational remarks to heckling nuns about their easy life-style and their bargain with the church - which he blamed for many problems in Ireland; released Mondo Bongo, LP (January 1981) and V Deep (1982) following the departure of Gerry Cott; appeared in Pink Floyd’s movie The Wall (1982); m. Paula Yates; wrote with Midge Ure the song “Do They Know Its Christmas?” which was played by Band Aid comprising 36 leading pop-stars, selling 7 million copies for famine-relief in Ethiopa, 1984; dg. Fifi Trixibelle, b. 1984; organised Live Aid concert in London (Wembley) and Philadelphia, 13 July, 1985, raising more than £50 million world-wide for famine-relief by telephone phone call-ins; Boomtown Rats played their last gig there;
 
met Mother Teresa at Addis Ababa, Jan. 1985; knighted in 1986; issued Is That It? [1987], autobiography; dg. Peaches Honeyblossom, b. 1989;  separated from Yates, with acrimonious differences over her treatment of their children, 1995; custody issue resolved in his favour by courts; became successful media entrepreneur and fndr. of Planet Twenty-four which launched Chris Evans in “The Big Breakfast”; death of Paula’s boyfriend Michael Hutchence of INXS (with whom a dg. Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, b. 1996), in a Sydney hotel, 1997, supposedly by erotic self-asphyxiation;
 
Yates irrationally blames Geldof for death of Hutchence; death of Yates, Sept. 2000, by accidental heroine OD; Geldof meets Jeanne Marine in Paris, 2001; appeared at National Event Centre, Killarney, Nov. 2001, his only gig in Ireland in 2001; co-authored Commission on Africa Report and addressed Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, May 2005; organiser Live 8 - a Live-Aid style concert played at Hyde Park, Edinburgh and elsewhere simultaneously with the G8 meeting of First-world leaders at Gleneagles, Summer 2005;
 
faced charges of patronising attitude to African musicians, Youssef D’Nour and others volunteering to join Live 8; received hon. degree from Newcastle Univ., along with Gordon Brown, 8 Jan. 2006; issues new album, and gives interview with Dave Fanning, RTE (11 Feb. 2011); advertises Maurice Lacroix watches, 2011; suffered the sudden death of his dg. Peaches - ‘wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us’, April 2014 (survived by husband Thomas Cohen and two children, Astala and Phaedra).

Live Aid 1985
Bob Geldof at Live Aid, 13 July 1985 - image from SPIN [as infra].

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Works
Is That It
? [1987]; trans. into German by Clara Drechsler and Harald Hellmann, as So War’s - Kindheit und Jugend in Dublin: Die Boomtown Rats; Band Aid und Live Aid (1987), 476pp. Forthcoming, Geldof in Africa (London: Century 2005) [based on 6-pt. TV series from 20 June 2005/BBC1]

Anthology: Liam Harte, ed., The Literature of the Irish in Britain: Autobiography and Memoir, 1725-2001 (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2009), incls. an extract.

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Criticism
Barry Egan, ‘Coming back from the edge’ [interview article with Bob Geldof], Sunday Independent, Feb. 10 2002; birth of his dg. Tiger Lily, with Yates, 1996; Gerry Agar, Paula, Michael and Bob: Everything You Know is Wrong ([London:] Michael O’Mara 2003), 272pp. +24pp. col. photos.

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Commentary
Joe Jackson, ‘Sexandlove&lifeanddeath’ [sic], interview with Bob Geldof, in Hot Press, 10 Oct. 2001, p.18ff.; a very frank discussion of emotional and sexual difficulties in the wake of his relationship with Paula Yates and before the arrival of Jeanne Marine; Geldof speaks about his love song to Jeanne, !10:15” and the explicitness in it which Clive James foresees he will live to regret; speaks of ‘joy and light and grace and beauty’ being withdrawn in 1995 when Paula left and the implosion of his emotional life ‘when love is withdrawn’ [… &c.] Geldof on his song “One for Me”, which Jackson considers to mock Paula: ‘Music is a higher language because it can articulate feeling. It can articulate the unspeakable. So you get synopsised emotions in lyrics, which, unlike poetry can be completely unspecific because underlying it all is this other instrument of language - which is music. So you understand, to a greater depth, an expression or a phrase. Therefore you can, through songs - even pop songs - talk about inchoate things, like emotion. So when I say to you the record [Sex, Age and Death] is abut grief, loss, pain, disappointment, bewilderment, anger, that’s what it is. And “One for Me” - and I’m not being superficial or coy - is about fucking disappointment.’ (p.19.)

Arthur Beesley, in The Irish Times ([q.d.,] April 2005): ‘Third world campaigner Bob Geldof has called on Irish business leaders to play their part in the “long walk to justice” for Africa. / He also attacked the Government for breaking its promises on development aid and siad Ireland’s economic recovery was only god if the Irihs people faced up to the responsibilities that came with prosperity. / Addressing an Institute of Bankers lunch in Dublin, Mr Geldof criticised the global system as “intellectually absurd and morally repulsive” and said it facilitated the “rape” of African economy. [...]’

The Independent (12 July 1995; rep. in “From the Archive”, Independent [UK], 12 July 2005): [...] Bob Geldof, in his own memorable phrase, “made compassion hip”. The rock star’s ability to stand his ground in a ding-dong with Margaret Thatcher or face down the Brussels bureaucrats made a new generation aware not just of the plight of the world’s poor but also of the fact that ordinary people in the West can do something about it. /Ten years on Africa is still in dim poverty but the world In which it exists is a rather different one. The Cold War, with Its proxy conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola, is owe, apartheid has gone from South Africa; multi-party democracy has been introduced in many countries. Despite all that Africa has largely fallen from the international agenda and the Cannes summit last month saw a down-grading of Europe’s and investment in the continent. Africa must compete, too, in an increasingly globalised environment. / Aid agencies and others concerned with promoting development among the world’s poor have so far been unable to find a convincing strategy to cope with these new global realities. Yet it is important that some sense of public accountability and social responsibility be restored to the debate. / That was Geldof’s triumph. He set aside the concept of enlightened self-interest on which the previous development consensus, embodied in the Brandt report, had relied. Instead he recreated a moral climate in which it became possible to say that it is simply wrong that so many people should live in abject poverty in this world. A decade later, that is a message which needs to be broadcast more urgently than ever before.’[ top ]

Alan Corr, ’Ireland has been ruined’, interview with Bob Geldof, in RTE ten, (19 Feb. 2011): ‘[...] His “impulse to music” first struck him one morning in Cork when he was ten years old. “I remember clearly the first time I heard Elvis. It was in a drawing room in Cork at about eleven in the morning,” he says. “There I was stuck and things were not good, bleak, and I was by myself in the house, there was no money and the place was freezing and we had no telly and into this came Radio Luxembourg and these young boys and girls singing about change. That’s exactly what electrified me. There were other planets and universes outside planet Ireland. In the seventies when it was again a zero economy and the state had failed once again to provide any offering to its young, the first thing you hear me say in a song is the world owes me a living. I wrote that in 75. / The job of the artist is to articulate what society is thinking before society says it and when they hear it, they say - that’s it ! You needed someone like Johnny Rotten, articulate, deeply funny and scabrous to say it and what they were demanding was a sweeping change and it happened, it came three years later with a woman with a handbag.” By the time Thatcher was in power, Geldof’s time was slipping away and Bono’s crusade was about to begin. Geldof didn’t know the U2 singer that well back then but they are now, as Geldof says, “The Laurel and Hardy of Third World debt.”’ (Available online; accessed 20.03.2011.)

SPIN - ‘Live Aid: The Terrible Truth’, by SPIN staff (13 June 2015): ‘[...] The Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu, until then deadlocked in the war, was using the money the west gave him to buy sophisticated weapons from the Russians, and was now able to efficiently and viciously crush the opposition. Ethiopia, then the third poorest country in the world, suddenly had the largest, best equipped army on the African continent. By this time we had all seen the pictures and TV footage of Bob Geldof, the figurehead of Live Aid, bear hugging and playfully punching Mengistu in the arm as he literally handed over the funding for this slaughter. It was on TV now alright, but as an endless, relentless reel of heroic Bob Geldof highlights. He drenched himself in the adulation and no one begrudged him it, until our investigation exposed the holocaust that Live Aid’s collected donations had help perpetrate on the Eritrean independence fighters. Most damningly, Keating reported that Geldof was warned, repeatedly, from the outset by several relief agencies in the field about Mengistu, who was dismantling tribes, mercilessly conducting resettlement marches on which 100,000 people died, and butchering helpless people. According to Medicins Sans Frontiers, who begged Geldof to not release the money until there was a reliable infrastructure to get it to victims, he simply ignored them, instead famously saying: “I’ll shake hands with the Devil on my left and on my right to get to the people we are meant to help.” In the course of preparing our story, we tried to interview Geldof, who in the beginning, perhaps expecting more of the same media worship, was apparently willing to talk, but as soon as he and Live Aid realized what we knew and were going to ask him about, he declined. For more than a month we kept calling and faxing requests for his comments. As we were nearing our deadline, we Fedex’ed him written questions and two cassettes, every day for two weeks. Two cassettes because I urged him to record his answers on two machines, send us one cassette and keep the other as a record, so there could be no dispute about quoting him out of context. He never replied, and our report, in July 1986, shocked the world. That is not an overstatement. It comprehensively exposed the fraudulent use of the charitable money by unmistakably the world’s most brutal dictator, and the naive, hubris-drenched, unwitting complicity of Live Aid and Geldof.’ (Available at SPIN - online; accessed 17.07.2017.)

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Quotations

“Banana Republic”                        

Banana Republic
Septic Isle
Screaming in the Suffering sea
It sounds like crying (crying, crying)
Everywhere I go, oh yeah
Everywhere I see
The black and blue uniforms
Police and priests

And I wonder do you wonder
While you’re sleeping with your whore
That sharing beds with history
Is like a-licking running sores
Forty shades of green yeah
Sixty shades of red
Heroes going cheap these days
Price; a bullet in the head

Banana Republic
Septic Isle
Suffer in the Screaming sea
It sounds like dying (dying, dying)
Everywhere I go, oh yeah
Everywhere I see
The black and blue uniforms
Police and priests

Take your hand and lead you
Up a garden path
Let me stand aside here
And watch you pass

Striking up a soldier’s song
I know that tune
It begs too many questions
And answers too

Banana Republic
Septic Isle
Suffer in the Screaming sea
It sounds like dying (dying, dying)
Everywhere I go, oh yeah
Everywhere I see
The black and blue uniforms
Police and priests

The purple and the pinstripe
Mutely shake their heads
A silence shrieking volumes
A violence worse than they condemn
Stab you in the back yeah
Laughing in your face
Glad to see the place again
It’s a pity nothing’s changed

Banana Republic
Septic Isle
Suffer in the Screaming sea
It sounds like dying
Everywhere I go
Everywhere I see
The black and blue uniforms
Police and priests

   
—Quoted by Steve McCabe on Diaspora Email [IR-D@jiscmail.ac.uk] - in response to current news about enlisted Irish soldiers who deserted the Irish Army in order to fight in British uniform during World War II. [04.01.2012.]

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References
Numerous Websites incl. http://www.bobgeldof.com/

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Notes
The Boomtown Rats was made up of Bob Geldof, vocals; Johnnie Moylett (aka Johnnie Fingers), keyboard; Gerry Cott (guitar); Garry Roberts, guitar; Patrick Cusack, aka Pete “Briquette”; Simon Crowe, drums; and named after a tag in Woody Guthrie’s novel Bound for Glory having first been called “Nightlife Thug”[ top ]

Most famous old boy?: Text associated with the box for Blackrock College on the Google World Map gives: ‘Bob Geldof Live Aid fame is past pupil’ ... and no others, nor any other information other than ‘secondary school for boys in Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland.’ (See Wikimapia online; accessed 9 June 2007.)

Peaches: Fanny del Voha, ‘Peaches Geldof C’est qui?’ [Buzz, Buzz, Buzz column], in Point de vue (15-21 juillet 2009): ‘Première fille du chanteur engagé Bob Geldof, elle est la plus comédienne des joumalistes britanniques. Chroniqueuse pour l’evening Standard, mannequin à ses heures, dessinatrice pour la marque de vêtements PPQ et «party girl» invétérée, cette jeune femme de 20 ans est un phénomène. Beaucoup la jugent inintéressante, voire stupide, pourtant, souvent ses détracteurs sont les premiers à suivre à la trace ses moindres apparitions publiques. Mais que se passe-t-il quand on croise sa photo dans un magazine? / REPULSION: Grunge, rock ’n roll, friquée et volontiers gothique, Peaches Geldof porte souvent ses vêtements haute couture avec des basies de chez H&M, ce qui agace. Surtout sur un corps aux multiples tatouages et piercings qui courent sur sa peau comme autant d’envies de dire «m.... ». De même son amitié avec la lascive héritière Paris Hilton. ATTRACTION: C’est mignon, une langue aussi bien pendue que celle de miss Geldof. Elle tacle sans trop s’attarder les tabloïds qu’elle estime peureux de la jeunesse, des femmes, des minorités ethniques et des homosexuels. D’autant qu’elle n’a guère besoin d’eux pour mesurer la futilité de certains de ses projets professionnels. Ses petits amis sont là, dit-elle, pour la réveiller. Libre et franche, donc.’

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