Ahead of the Business & Finance Awards, we look at how singer, activist and humanitarian Sir Bob Geldof’s career changed our view of poverty – and he delivered some good tunes too.
In recent years we have become used to musicians and celebrities opining on the issues of the day, and it sometimes invites cynicism: attention-seeking and publicity stunts have been numerous over the years.
Sir Bob Geldof, however, has broken the mould in two respects. Firstly, as the charismatic and outspoken frontman of The Boomtown Rats, he led a trend whereby social engagement and awareness were now in the remit of musicians, and their platforms could be used to urge humanitarian change.
Secondly, Geldof’s social engagement is so ingrained and well-documented that he is understood as a genuine humanitarian operating in a world of celebrity, rather than the other way around.
Geldof’s social engagement is so ingrained and well-documented that he is understood as a genuine humanitarian operating in a world of celebrity, rather than the other way around
1984’s Band Aid, and Geldof’s co-written hit ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was inspired by a BBC report on famine in Ethiopia, and was merely the first of a series of interventions that have transformed how we view poverty and international development. Live Aid came the following year, Geldof hitting the headlines with his infamous “give us your fucking money” appeal – which people indeed did.
He has been active in humanitarianism ever since, and was a prominent driver of the Make Poverty History campaign to drop third-world debt in the run up to the 2005 G8 summit.
Geldof has received a number of awards in recognition of his charity work, including a Man of Peace award in 2005 and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2006 and 2008.
All throughout, he remained a working musician, leaving The Boomtown Rats in 1986, embarking on a solo career, and reuniting with the Rats once again. He also carved out success in the world of business and investment.
Born in 1951 and brought up in Dún Laoghaire, Bob Geldof’s life has seen its fair share of tragedy – yet he has devoted his career to reducing tragedy throughout the world.
By transforming westerners’ understanding of global poverty and of the developing world, Sir Bob Geldof’s outstanding contribution to Ireland is clear.
The Business & Finance Awards, in association with KPMG, take place on December 15th at The Convention Centre Dublin. Sir Bob Geldof will be presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Ireland award on the night.