Bob Geldof reflects on personal toll of Live Aid: “It probably cost me my marriage”

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the legendary shows in London and Philadelphia

Bob Geldof has opened up the personal cost of the Live Aid concerts, admitting that it “impinged” on his private life.

The Boomtown Rats singer and musician Midge Ure were the masterminds behind the 1985 fundraising concerts in London and Philadelphia, which took place 35 years ago today.

The concerts raised more than $127 million for the victims of African famine and were watched by nearly two billion people worldwide, over 40% of the world’s population.


They also took in some of the most iconic live sets in music history – including Queen‘s show-stealing turn at Wembley Stadium.

But in a new interview to mark the 35th anniversary, Geldof said the shows had a huge personal cost on his life.

Live Aid
Live Aid 1985. Credit: Getty Images.

“I hated it. It became impossible,” Geldof said of the praise that surrounded his charity work.

“For a while I was bewildered. I didn’t have much money at the time. It impinged entirely on my private life. It probably ended up costing me my marriage (he later divorced Paula Yates in 1996),” he told AP.

Geldof also admitted that the huge success of the event meant it was harder to return to his day job as a musician.


“I wasn’t allowed go back to my job. I’m a pop singer. That’s literally how I make my money. That’s my job. I get up in the morning, if I’m in the mood. I’ll try and write tunes. I’ll go and try and rehearse,” he said.

“And I couldn’t. And no one was interested. Saint Bob, which I was called, wasn’t allowed to do this anymore because it’s so petty and so meaningless. So, I was lost.”

Reflecting on whether the event could ever take place again, he admitted: “It was the end of that political period of cooperation and consensus and compromise. Would that happen today? No. You just have to look at the clowns running the planet to understand that could never happen again.”

Earlier this year, Geldof said he believed Live Aid could never happen today.

He also pioneered Live 8, which took place in eight different locations in 2005, but Geldof believes another event on the Live Aid scale would be impossible today.

Speaking to CBC, Geldof said: “We had a huge lobby: 1.2 billion people, 95 per cent of the television sets on Earth watched that concert.

”Things do change, but that instrument of change is no longer plausible,” he added. “Rock and roll was the central spine of our culture for 50 years. The web has broken down the world into individualism and that’s easy for authoritarians to use.”

Last year, Queen guitarist Brian May stated his desire for another Live Aid to be organised in order to tackle climate change.

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