(b. Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof, 5 October 1951, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Eire)
Born in Dun Laoghaire, a town close to Dublin, on October 5, 1951, Robert Frederick Xenon Geldof did not shine as a child, concocting his own school reports to appease his father, with whom he had a touchy relationship. His mother died when Bob was just seven years old.
After stints as a slaughterman, road navvy, and pea canner, Geldof initially entered the music scene as a journalist on Canada's premier underground rock journal Georgia Straight.
But the music scribe aspired to be on the other side of the fence and, 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.
The Boomtown Rats were signed by Mercury records in 1977,the year punk rock exploded in Britain, and Bob pronounced his ambition: “get rich, get famous, and get laid,” showing a mastery of the soundbite that has yet to desert him.
Geldof was always centre of attention in live performances, the nearest the New Wave movement had to a Mick Jagger figure.
The Rats had several years of success, scoring nine consecutive Top Fifteen singles, including the smash hits, Rat Trap, and I Don’t Like Mondays. The Rats were the biggest band in the UK during the late 70's to early 80's.
While The Rats music wasn’t a hit on the other side of the pond, Bob's film career got a fillip after he appeared in the 1982 Pink Floyd rock movie The Wall.
Bob also took a starring role in the movie 'Number One' as Flash 'Harry' Gorden, co-starring Mel Smith. He turned down a chance to star in the hit movie Flashdance.
But it was not until two years later that the Irishman 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 poignant 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 – but it was not all plain sailing.
Geldof established the Live Aid Trust, which operated in eight African countries, Britain, France and the US, to administer the $150,000,000 raised by these ventures. Geldof inspired, and joined a similar supergroup recording in the United States, "We Are the World,"
Geldof's increased visibility led to the belated U.S. release of The Boomtown Rats 6th album - In the Long Grass, but when it failed to chart, The Boomtown Rats were left without a record label in 1986. After writing his autobiography, Is That It?, he settled into a solo career.
Geldof's solo career spawned two hit singles 'This is the World Calling', and 'The Great Song of Indifference'. Unfortunately, a series of singles failed to make the charts.
Bob's solo career failed to reach the dizzy heights of The Boomtown Rats, but his solo albums still show he has a lot to offer, and talent cannot always be reflected in sales figures alone.
Bob already had a daughter, Fifi Trixibelle, with TV presenter and former rock chic Paula Yates, and they went on to have two more – Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie.
And then came the next phase of Bob’s amazing life. He set up a TV production company, Planet 24, which developed one of the broadcasting phenomena of the Nineties: The Big Breakfast. Fronted by zany redhead Chris Evans, Gaby Roslin and Paula Yates, the programme launched in September 1992 and was an instant hit, blowing away the cobwebs associated with other early morning programmes.
Bob later sold his £5-million-worth of shares in Planet 24, and set up myriad other business ventures, from radio companies to mobile phone ventures, to Castaway (the company which owns the Survivor TV format).
Now a millionaire businessman, Geldof still works relentlessly for the poor and collaborates with friend Bono to publicise Drop The Debt – a campaign to relieve the debts of the world's most economically challenged countries.
Bob Geldof 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, and for broadcasting they include a BAFTA, the Royal Society and Peabody awards.
Bob Geldof says he's first and foremost a musician and that's what he puts on passport applications and the like.