Bob Geldof first met David Bowie when he was the lead singer of a fledgling rock band, The Boomtown Rats. Bowie was already a rock superstar. The men forged a friendship in the progressing years, a friendship that included Bowie’s central role in the landmark charitable endeavor, Live Aid, and private moments such as Geldof’s wedding.
In a new piece for The Georgia Straight, the Vancouver, British Columbia, newspaper where Geldof was music editor in the 1970s, the singer reflected on Bowie. The piece is a collection of memories about the rock superstar. Overall, it was his kindness that stuck out.
“He was a VERY kind man. He was a lovely man.”
Among Geldof’s memories was the time he showed Bowie images of the famine in Ethiopia, which the then-upcoming Live Aid concert was set to support. Bowie was in tears, and insisted on showing the video as part of his set. Although Geldof wanted Bowie to perform four hit songs, Bowie said he would do three songs and then introduce the images, collected and edited by the CBC. This was despite objections from Geldof and concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith for Bowie to just stick with the hits.
Geldof wrote of the effect of the video on the Live Aid audience, describing it as a watershed moment for the entire event.
“The film ended and the world erupted. Phone lines crashed, money flowed in as people finally understood what Live Aid was for.
“Only a master showman would understand what was necessary, as Bowie did. Only a totally self-assured genius would offer to sacrifice a song as a nothing in the face of such monstrosity and call the world to attention. Pop was fine but there is always context.”
Bowie went off to be alone after his performance, again in tears, according to Geldof.
Geldof said his first meeting with Bowie happened after he traveled to Brussels from Dublin to see him perform. Geldof got backstage and played Bowie a Boomtown Rats demo, which the elder rocker said was “great.”
“He was being kind again. He remembered that one day he’d been Davy Jones and the whatevers. We all start somehow.”
Geldof also told of going to a soccer match with Bowie and punk rocker Iggy Pop, before ending his article on an emotional note.
“At my wedding in his morning suit. Impeccable. A laugh. Happy. Kind (again). I’ll stop now. It’s too much.
“Oh David. Miss you so much.”
Long known as a philanthropist as much as a musician, Geldof is no stranger to loss. His daughter Peaches died in April, 2014.
The Telegraph reported in December, 2015, on Geldof’s conversation with an Irish radio station when he discussed his daughter’s death. He referenced the idea that parents are not supposed to outlive their children, and described Peaches as a continuing presence in his life.
“But she is the one who is with me every second of every day and she is the one who bangs into my consciousness at any moment, especially in any down moment.
“Time does not heal, it accommodates. But it is not accommodating this.”
In the wake of David Bowie’s passing, many musicians have come forward to pay their respects. A concert, scheduled for March 31, 2016, at Carneige Hall in Bowie’s adopted home town of New York, was originally a tribute show. It will now be a memorial. Due to extraordinary interest in the event, a second concert, this one happening April 1, 2016, at Radio City Music Hall, has been added, according to Billboard.
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]