Bob Geldof to receive BGU honorary doctorate

Award being given to honor Irish musician's more than three decades in music industry – and his activities to raise funds to fight famine in Africa.

March 22, 2011 06:23
2 minute read.
IRISH SINGER and humanitarian Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof smiling 311. (photo credit: Kruger Cowne Ltd)


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Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof will receive an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to recognize his charitable activities, the university said on Monday.

The award, which will be presented to the 59-year-old Geldof during the 41st Annual Board of Governors Meeting on May 30, is being given to honor his more than three decades in the music industry – and his activities to raise funds to fight famine in Africa.

Geldof’s paternal grandfather, a Belgian chef, married a Jewish woman, Amelia Falk, in London before moving to Ireland.

In an interview with the Manchester Jewish Telegraph, Geldof said “I was a quarter Catholic, a quarter Protestant, a quarter Jewish and a quarter nothing — the nothing won.”

Geldof first came to the public eye in the late 1970s as vocalist and writer for the Irish punk-era band The Boomtown Rats. While his articulate Springsteen-influenced songs drew critical acclaim, the band’s commercial success peaked with its quirky 1979 ballad “I Don’t Like Mondays.”

In 1984, he and musician Midge Ure founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The group went on to record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” which became one of the best-selling singles of all time – and spawned the American blockbuster “We Are the World.”

The next year, Geldof organized the charity Live Aid mega concerts – staged simultaneously in London and Philadelphia – also to raise money for Africa.

Geldof left the Boomtown Rats in 1986 to launch a solo career and publish his best-selling autobiography, Is That It? In 2005, Geldof reprised his Live Aid effort, organizing Live 8 – a series of concerts featuring top performers held around the world. All proceeds from the event were dedicated to alleviating poverty in Africa.

The honorary doctorate from BGU will be the latest in a string of honors conferred upon the musician – who has also received a lifetime achievement for outstanding contribution to the music industry, an honorary knighhood as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

While in Israel, Geldof will also participate in the IsraAID conference, “Israel in Africa – Past, Present and Future.”

Six other individuals will receive awards from BGU during its annual meeting, including historian Sir Martin Gilbert and Dr. Mimi Halper Silbert, founder of the Delancy Street Foundation.

David Brinn contributed to this report

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