February 1, 2005
Bob Geldof, the musician better known for founding the Live Aid and Band Aid music acts for charity, said he was sick of being “Mr. Bloody Africa.”
Geldof, formerly of the 1970s band the Boomtown Rats, complained in an interview with Radio Times magazine that he and U2 frontman Bono got more press as campaigners for aid to Africa than as musicians.
But he said: “Who’s interested if the leader of Niger goes on [the BBC show] Newsnight? It’s ‘Get Geldof!’ I’m ‘Mr Bloody Africa.'”
Africa, he continued, “more often than not . . . bores me profoundly.
“The pace of change is far too slow, and Africans excuse their own complicity in exactly the same way as our politicians,” he said.
Geldof, 50, also railed against the way the public confuses the roles of politicians and celebrities who support political causes.
“Bizarrely in our society there’s confusion between politicians and celebrities. Bono and I are under no illusions. We have an ability to articulate the great wound of the 21st century, and have access to politicians. But would Bono prefer to do this or be in U2? Hello?”
In 1984 Geldof spearheaded pop activism in Britain, organizing 40 musicians including Sting, Bono and Paul McCartney to record the tune “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” under the name Band Aid, to help famine victims in Ethiopia.
The original Band Aid single sold 3.5 million copies, paving the way for the massive 1985 Live Aid twin charity concerts in Britain and the United States, also organized by Geldof.
A 20-year anniversary edition of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was recorded last month, with new pop stars Dido and Robbie Williams, and one Band Aid veteran – Bono. Sales of the single, which topped charts in early December, go to relief work in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Geldof said he wanted to be remembered for his “real job” as a musician, rather than a global campaigner.
“Contrary to public perception, all I am interested in is my music. You’d be deluded to think you’d have heard of Bob Geldof if there hadn’t been a cooperative called the Boomtown Rats,” he said.
He will receive an award for lifetime achievement at the Brit Awards next week.
His former band’s six albums are being reissued on CD next week.