Bob Geldof

On this date in 1951, Robert Geldof, later knighted, was born in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. He attended Blackrock College in Blackrock, Ireland, and became a music journalist for Georgia Straight in Vancouver, Canada, after his graduation. After returning to Ireland, he became the lead singer of punk rock band The Boomtown Rats (1975–1986), which was known for hit songs such as “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979), “Rat Trap” (1978) and “Up All Night” (1981). In 1986, Geldof became a solo artist, with songs including “This is the World Calling” (1986) and “The Great Song of Indifference” (1990). Geldof published his autobiography Is That It? in 1986. He portrayed Pink Floyd in “The Wall” (1982). He married journalist Payla Yates in 1986 and the couple have three children: Fifi, born in 1983, Peaches, born in 1989, and Pixie, born in 1990.

Along with being a singer, Geldof is a philanthropist and anti-poverty activist. In 1984, he formed the musical group Band Aid, which raised $8 million to aid Ethiopia. Band Aid was composed of over 40 prominent musical artists including Bono, Sting, Paul McCartney and David Bowie, and produced the popular song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984). Geldof also helped organize the Live Aid concerts in 1985, which raised over $150 million to combat African famine. He followed Live Aid with the Live 8 concerts in 2005, which were performed at the same time as the 31st G8 Summit, which met to discuss aiding Africa. Live 8 included multiple concerts featuring over 1,000 famous musicians, and which raised money for the Make Poverty History campaign. Geldof was elected a member of the Commission for Africa in 2004. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Brit Awards for his musical accomplishments, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, and was knighted in 1986.

When asked in an Independent article (July 10, 2006) if he was a saint or a sinner, Geldof replied, “Being an atheist I can’t be either.” In an interview with Manchester Jewish Telegraph, he further explained: “I was a quarter Catholic, a quarter Protestant, a quarter Jewish and a quarter nothing – the nothing won” (quoted in The Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2011).

“I actively disliked the Church and its institutionalized morality which I felt bedeviled Ireland.”

—Bob Geldof, Is That It? (1986), writing about the Catholic Church.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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