My Century Home Page


Broadcast on Thursday 21st October 1999

BOB GELDOF

My name is Bob Geldof. I have a terrible cold. I'm a musician. And in 1984, I was watching a news broadcast about a famine that was occurring in Ethiopia. And I felt I had to do something about it. And I got a lot of musician friends together and recorded a song called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" And we called the group "Band-Aid" and we raised money for the famine victims in Ethiopia. But subsequently I realised that that would not be enough to do all we wanted to do. So I organised a concert. And it was called "Live-Aid". The idea of Live-Aid came about because I was in Sudan. And there were stories of the emergency food aid being held up at the docks of Port Sudan. So when I went there, I was told that the main reason for the hold-up in the food was that a cartel, a trucking cartel was operating in the Port of Sudan. So I just figured that the only way to break the cartel was to put up some opposition to it. So I returned to Britain, and set about organising the Live-Aid concert. And with the monies that were raised from the tickets of that, we bought a fleet of trucks which in effect broke up the cartel in Port Sudan. My idea that the biggest bands in the world would play one concert in two continents, simultaneously. So we got Wembley Stadium in London and RFK Stadium in Philadelphia. And when the band was on in Britain, that would be the band that would be on the world TV feed; and then the band would come on in Philadelphia. We'd flip back and forwards - so that, in effect, the vast bulk of the global audience would be watching one concert. And suddenly it was time for me and my band to go on stage. And the noise of the crowd was physical. And I was doing a song that I'd written a long time ago, called "I Don't Like Mondays" - which people certainly in Britain knew. And there was a line of that which was: "The lesson today is how to die". And I hadn't chosen that song because of that line. But lots of things took on a significance that day that they otherwise wouldn't have. And I got to that line and I suddenly stopped. I pulled up sharp. I stopped dead, you know. I stopped singing the song. And the line just lay hanging in the air over Wembley Stadium, and presumably over the billion and a half people watching on television. And the crowd started going mad. The noise rose to a even higher intensity of emotion. And for me personally it was a cathartic moment. I'd had a weirdo life. And all the seemingly not understandable parts of my life, the paths that it had taken, all seemed to make absolute sense. It had all sort of arrived at this point and this was the reason for it. And people who were important in my life were all in that stadium - like my dad, and so-and-so and so-and-so. And I felt very calm. And I wanted to remember that moment of stillness. So slowly I moved my eyes from my stage right, all the way round, slowly round to the back, round to the stage left and all the vast number of people in front of me. And I took a sort of mental snap, that I would carry with me, you know. And then I sort of broke the spell, and we continued with the song. And then I was off. And that was my Live-Aid moment. E N D