Geldof first came to fame in the mid-1970s as leader of the Boomtown Rats, a rock group closely linked with the punk movement. In 1978, they had their first number one single with Rat Trap, and their follow-up, I Don't Like Mondays, was even more successful. Geldof quickly became known as a colourful spokesman for rock music. Their first appearance on Ireland's Late Late Show led to complaints from viewers.
The Rats did not remain for long at the top of the tree, and by 1984 their career was on the wane. It was in November of that year that Geldof saw a BBC news report on the famine in Ethiopia and vowed to do something about it. Aware that he could do little on his own, he got together a group of friends , including Midge Ure (from the band Ultravox) who co-wrote with Geldof the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas". They then put together a group (Band Aid), consisting of leading rock musicians and released the single just before Christmas with the aim of raising money for famine relief. (The idea was copied worldwide, with the song 'We are the world', co-written by Michael Jackson, released in the United States, where it topped the charts.)
Not content with the enormous success of the single, Geldof went on to organise the massive charity concert Live Aid, which raised unprecedented sums for charity, and travelled all over the globe raising money. He even challenged Margaret Thatcher, then British prime minister, leading to a major reevaluation of British government policy towards famine relief. In recognition of this work, he has received many awards, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. (As a non-British subject the Irish-born Geldof was legally precluded from being awarded a full knighthood, and use of the title "Sir". Nevertheless, he is commonly referred to as "Sir Bob Geldof".)
As Geldof became world-famous, his personal life was affected by bitter tragedy. His wife, Paula Yates, mother of their three daughters, left him for her lover, singer Michael Hutchence, by whom she had another child. Following Hutchence's suicide, Geldof went to court and obtained custody of the four daughters. Geldof's experiences during his divorce has led him to become an outspoken advocate of fathers' rights. After Yates' death, Geldof became the legal guardian of their (Hutchence and Yates') child, believing that she should be raised with her sisters.
He has continued to write, record, and perform music around the world as a solo artist. His best-known post-Live Aid song is probably "The Great Song of Indifference". He is also profitably involved in business activities. He is rumoured to be considering seeking election to the office of President of Ireland in 2004.