DUN LAOGHAIRE, IRELAND
101 - UPTOWN
Born in Dun Laoghaire, on October 5, 1951, Robert Frederick Xenon Geldof did not shine as a child, concocting his own school reports to appease his father. After stints as a slaughterman, road navvy, and pea canner, Geldof initially entered the music scene as a journalist on Canada's underground rock journal Georgia Straight.
On returning to Dublin in 1975, he and his mates formed a band. Initially called the Nightlife Thugs, they changed their moniker to The Boomtown Rats, naming themselves after a gang in a Woody Guthrie novel.
Bob appeared in the 1982 Pink Floyd rock movie The Wall and he took a starring role in the movie 'Number One' as Flash 'Harry' Gorden, co-starring with Mel Smith.
He famously turned down a chance to star in the hit movie Flashdance.
But it was not until two years later that he really became a household name. Watching the news one night, he was horrified by a report on the famine in Ethiopia. “I felt disgusted and ashamed by what was going on in Africa, and I felt that if I didn’t do something, I was taking part in some crime. It wasn’t enough to put my hand in my pocket and give money,” Bob later told a reporter.
So Bob got on the phone, calling up his extensive contacts in the music world to persuade, cajole and bully them into pooling their resources. The result was the all-star Band Aid and the song Do They Know It’s Christmas?. The charity record went on to sell over three million copies and, thanks to Bob’s foresight, an unprecedented 96 pence from each record went to aid relief.
Six months later, on July 13, 1985, came Live Aid. Over 60 acts played for free in London and Philadelphia, one of the biggest live media events ever.
“Give us your f***ing money,” he exhorted the 1.5 billion viewers, live on TV, and they did - although Bob never actually used those words - the saying is an urban myth. Over $84 million was raised for the starving and the dying in Ethiopia. Physically and emotionally drained, Bob returned to what he knew best music.
Geldof's solo career spawned two hit singles 'This is the World Calling', and 'The Great Song of Indifference’. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and received numerous awards, including a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his role in helping aid Ethiopians, and the EC gold medal. His music awards include Ivor Novellos, Grammies and BRITs, BAFTA, the Royal Society and Peabody awards.
Bob Geldof says he's first and foremost a musician and citizen of Boomtown.