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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 14:08 GMT
Profile: Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof
Geldof has turned his hand to a variety of ventures

Musician and campaigner Bob Geldof has agreed to advise the Conservative Party on global poverty.

But Geldof's brush with fame did not exactly foreshadow a life as a strident humanitarian.

As the lead singer of Irish upstarts The Boomtown Rats, Geldof was a loud, demonstrative singer in a pub rock band whose ferocity and legendary live shows carried them into the punk scene.

"I think if it didn't happen, I'd probably be ok with a normal job and leading a normal life," he once told the Evening Standard.

Geldof was born Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof on 5 October 1954 in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. The son of a travelling salesman, his mother died when he was seven years old. He described her death as the most formative experience of his life.

His autobiography, Is That It? Geldof painted a picture of a lonely childhood in Dublin, often at odds with his father.

Bob Geldof in The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats' biggest hit was I Don't Like Mondays

He dreamed of becoming a rock star, and started out as a fledgling music writer in Canada and then the UK in the early Seventies, including work for the NME. Back in Dublin he formed a band, The Boomtown Rats, and became its frontman.

The band, playing fierce pub rock, became a live sensation and were unruly enough to become part of the punk scene. Starting with Looking After No 1, they enjoyed a string of hits.

Their 1979 song I Don't Like Mondays, inspired by the off-the-cuff excuse from a Californian serial killer, became a global hit.

Geldof's zeal

At the same time he met a 17-year-old Paula Yates. The couple married and had three children together - Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie.

It was in the dying days of The Boomtown Rats that Geldof saw a TV report by the BBC's Michael Buerk of a humanitarian crisis developing in drought-hit Ethiopia, with millions facing a slow death from starvation.

A celebrity's despair at other people's suffering was not exactly new - Sting had written the song Driven to Tears for The Police after seeing a similar report a few years earlier - but Geldof's zeal to do something about it was.

Bob Geldof in Ethiopia
Geldof visited Ethiopia to raise awareness of the famine

Co-writing with ex-Ultravox singer Midge Ure, Geldof wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? and browbeat most of the British pop world into appearing on the single. It raised millions for the Ethiopian famine fund.

Geldof went one better in 1985, organising the Live Aid concert held in London and Philadelphia. It was televised around the world, with Geldof causing controversy by swearing at viewers to send money.

The Boomtown Rats broke up in 1985, and Geldof became a solo artist, often seemingly-annoyed with the "Saint Bob" tag that had arisen around his work for Africa.

Aside from his music and raising a family he was also turning his hand to television production and other business ventures.

Yates' death

He set up a TV production company called Planet 24 (it was behind Channel 4's The Big Breakfast), but his private life took a turn for the worse.

In 1995 Yates left him for the Australian rock star Michael Hutchence.

There were bitter custody battles over the three children that were partly blamed for Hutchence's suicide in 1997.

Since Yates' death from an overdose in 2000, Geldof has also brought up her daughter to Hutchence, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

Since the mid-90s Geldof has toyed with everything from radio host (his audience-baiting became briefly legend on London station XFM), launched a travel website and become involved with advertising, as well as releasing a new album ruminating on the death of his wife.

In 2003, he revisited Ethiopia to protest against Third World debt.

And a year later, Geldof turned his attention to the family and the father's place in it.

In two television documentaries, he launched a tirade against the country's high divorce rate and his belief that fathers get little justice in divorce cases.

Political pressure

To mark the 20th anniversary of Band Aid, Geldof once again rounded up the top musicians of the day - this time including Robbie Williams, Coldplay and a host of others - to rerecord Do They Know It's Christmas.

Band Aid 20 inevitably reached the Christmas 2004 number one spot, raising millions for famine relief projects across Africa in the process.

The success of that reunion paved the way for July's Live8 concerts.

But rather than being organised to make money, the Geldof-inspired Make Poverty History campaign and the Live8 series of concerts were conceived to apply political pressure.

Their aim was to urge the G8 group of the world's richest nations to act on debt, trade and poverty at its July summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

That summit ended with an agreement to boost aid for developing countries by $50bn (£28.8bn) and to cancel the debt of the 18 poorest nations in Africa.

In November, Geldof was given the Man of Peace award from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, in Rome.

Geldof helps Tory poverty policy
28 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Bob Geldof receives peace award
24 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Cameron outlines poverty mission
08 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
Geldof 'not too close' to leaders
12 Sep 05 |  UK Politics


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