Until the end of 1984, Bob Geldof was only known as the lead singer of an Irish punk band called
"The Boomtown Rats". They had an international hit with "I Don't Like Mondays" but have seen
their star slowly decline.
One evening, after an harassing day spent on interviews to promote their next album, Bob came back home and switched TV on. He saw an horrifying news report about the very important famine in Ethiopia. The images were incredible, showing a mother who could not even hold her baby in her arms, her dead baby, an old man who was too fragile to run for distributed food, he would only arrive after all food had been distributed ...
He was desperate and wondered what he could do to help. He was only a singer, and his only skill was about writing songs that noone wanted to listen to ... But after contacting Midge Ure (of Ultravox) they started approching other artists to record a charity hymn that became "Do They Know it's Christmas". Geldof had the most powerfull reasons to ask people to buy this record : it was intended to save lives. He said "If you don't like the music, buy the record and throw it to rubbish. You don't need to like the music, but we need you to buy the records to save lives". Some people bought fifty copies of the record kept one and gave back the forty-nine copies to the record shop to sell them again. Others sent the record as wishing cards etc ...
The power of Geldof was that he promised every penny received by Band Aid (the fundation for Ethiopia and Africa) would be given to Africa. No money would be lost in administration or other reasons that make other fundations give only thirty per cent of the given money to their cause.
But this was not enought. Even if the record sold very well (and most countries had the same results with local productions) , Gelodf wanted to change the world attitude about Africa. He then decided to contact all the available artists and to organise the Live Aid : a charity gig on both sides of the Atlantic (in London at Wembley Stadium and in Philadelphia at the JFK Stadium) broadcast by most TV channels around the world (Geldof estimated that nearly 85 per cent of world's TVs were watching the event on the day).
In 1985 this was not as easy as we know it today. Today a satellite link bewteen US and UK is a very simple thing to establish, but in 1985, this was not easy to coordinate this worldwilde broadcast.
The event's result was of more than four millions pounds in UK, five millions in Ireland and around a hundred millions dollars wordlwilde
But more than money, Geldof had changed the world perception about Africa. Everyone who saw the "famine clip" illustrated by the Cars "Drive" can't be the same after that vision of horror.