On a similar topic, today in my mum's paper there was a ridiculous article about Bono, one of those 'ooh, scandal' pieces the tabloids need to concoct once every so often because they've nothing better to write, claiming his band are fed up with him and suggesting he's been unfaithful to Ali with all these women. They took a bunch of Rolling Stone quotes and twisted them to make him seem really weird and, I don't know, it was just rubbish. The main pic was him with Naomi Campbell and they insinuated there might have been something going on, totally not being aware of the fact she was with Adam. In fact the only reason I read the stupid thing was because I glimpsed the pic as my sister flicked through and for a moment he looked like Adam. I have a good mind to email them and just say how bad the article was, grrrrrrr! It's annoyed me all day, lol, I know it shouldn't but hey.
Anyway, here's the good article. ;) Merry Christmas, everyone!! :D
Bob & Bono’s excellent adventure - Neil McCormick
Telegraph, 2nd July ‘05
“Debt is the most boring thing on the planet… unless you’re poor,” according to Sir Bob Geldof. “It is our job to find ways of getting people interested.”
In the 20 years since the original Live Aid, Bob Geldof and his compatriot Bono have become the dynamic duo of African aid, two rock stars who believe they can change the world. While a vast army of economists, charity workers and civil servants toil tirelessly in the background of the Make Poverty History campaign, it is “the mad Irish boys” (as Sir Paul McCartney describes them) who have grabbed the world’s attention.
At times, the pair seem inescapable - one with his trademark wraparound shades, the other with his scarecrow hair - popping up at political summits and rallies, alternately haranguing and glad-handing presidents, prime ministers and Popes.
“There must be people more qualified to do this,” Bono will admit, as much in exasperation as humility. “It is absurd, if not obscene, that celebrity is a door that such serious issues need to pass through before politicians take note. But there it is. The idea has a force of its own. We’re just making it louder. Making noise is a job description, really, for a rock star.”
To watch the pair at work is at once moving and exhilarating, and rarely less than entertaining. They are both passionate advocates (their rock-and-roll combination of anger and wit, delivered with poetic flourishes, makes them powerful political speakers), tireless in their efforts (Bono’s exhausted assistants describe him as the most over-scheduled man on the planet, willing to go anywhere, any time to advance his causes) with an impressive grasp of the facts (“When you go in to see world leaders, you must know more than them or you will be dismissed as a naïf,” according to Geldof).
And they do not let the seriousness of the issues impede their sense of humour. When they met Pope John Paul II to enlist his support for the Drop The Debt campaign in 1999, Bono swapped his sunglasses for some rosary beads, then complained to the world’s media that “the Pope’s legged it with my goggles!” The Vatican, sadly, declined to release photographs of the Pontiff in rock star shades.
There is an inevitable sense of showboating about the publicity-grabbing exploits of a couple of alpha males with rock-star egos that remains unpalatable to some. Yet their power as lobbyists derives from a combination of their outsider status and their insider appeal. Politicians are eager to meet them (and let some of that celebrity rub off) but Bob and Bono are not themselves politicians, hemmed in by narrow national interests and party policy.
The duo’s Irishness may be their trump card. Passion, polemic and, indeed, humour and rudeness have long been accepted as part of the national character.
Ireland also lends them political neutrality, untainted by the bloody history of the empire or the might of America. In clichéd terms, Ireland is small and friendly, with its heart in the right place.
There is almost a good cop, bad cop aspect to the pair’s working methodology. Bono is softly spoken, intense and diplomatic, immensely charming to friends and foes alike. He is adept at working both sides of the fence. While Geldof was inspiring panic with his call for a million protesters to descend upon the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Bono was meeting with Condoleezza Rice and suggesting that it would be in her President’s best interests if he had something positive to tell the protesters.
Bono was invited to speak at the Labour Party conference last year, yet no political leader would be foolish enough to invite Geldof to share a podium, particularly for a live broadcast. Geldof takes no prisoners - effing and blinding, banging straight to the point.
When they first met Jim Wolfenson, former head of the World Bank, it quickly became apparent that Wolfenson had them mixed up. “I realised, in Wolfenson’s mind, there was no way a knight of the realm could treat him so badly,” according to Bono. “He thought Bob was the lippy rock star - and therefore I must be Sir Bob.”
“Bono is a Jesuit priest with a mullet hairdo,” according to Geldof. “Have you ever noticed how he walks with his hands clasped in front of him? And I walk with my fists clenched by my side.”
Bono’s deeply held Christian ideals drive his political activism. Geldof, by contrast, is an avowed atheist. “I deal with the Catholic Church because they are one of the major institutions in Africa and they can implement profound change,” he says. “That doesn’t bother me. I have shaken hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to where we need to be.”
After their visit to the Pope, Geldof ranted privately about the sheer psychedelic ludicrousnsess of believing in God - which only made Bono laugh. “You are so close to God,” he told his friend. “Closer than most people I know.”
While there is something of the mentor and apprentice about the relationship between 52-year-old Geldof and 45-year-old Bono, the balance of power has shifted over the years. Geldof was Ireland’s great punk rock star of the late Seventies, whose success internationally with the Boomtown Rats empowered the young U2. “Geldof made you believe you could scale the mountain by helicopter if necessary,” according to Bono.
Yet Geldof’s musical career was on the wane by 1984 when - angry and depressed and looking for something to do - he was inspired into action by Michael Buerk’s report on the Ethiopian famine. It was Live Aid the following year that made U2 international superstars, igniting Bono’s own political fervour in the process.
Bono and his wife Ali subsequently spent a month working with orphans in an Ethiopian camp. He often recounts how a starving man tried to give him his infant son: if Bono took him to Ireland, said the Ethiopian, the child would live. The rock star had to turn him down. “But, in a way, that child is still with me,” he says. “I carry him everywhere.”
Over the ensuing years, Bono went on to become the world’s biggest rock star, involved in many political campaigns. Meanwhile, Geldof’s involvement with African issues remained constant through the Live Aid charity he had established.
They started working together in 1999, when Bono enlisted Bob’s support for the Jubilee campaign, a religious initiative pushing for total Third World debt cancellation for the new millennium. Bono had suggested reprising Live Aid but Geldof persuaded him that lobbying was the way forward.
When the new century came and the Drop The Debt campaign had been partially successful (a third of all debt to the least developed countries had been cancelled), Bono formed DATA (Debt, Aid, Trade, Africa) to keep the team of activists together. Both men have also been prime movers behind the emerging Make Poverty History coalition. “Fifty-thousand people dying every day of extreme poverty is not a rock-star cause,” insists Bono. “It’s an emergency.”
Live8 is their biggest and boldest gambit: an attempt to force the world’s political leaders to address the root causes of Africa’s problems.
Asked at the Live8 launch who was the first artist to perform, Geldof replied: “Bono.” “And when did you know you had an event?” was the next question. “When Bono said yes,” replied Geldof.
This is slightly misleading. In fact, Bono never gave up on a sequel to Live Aid, repeatedly pestering Geldof over the years. “He will argue the toss over ----ing everything,” according to Geldof.
When Geldof, despite his reservations, came up with the Live8 concept, he unveiled it during a conference call with DATA. “There was a silence and Bono just went, ‘That’s ----ing it, Bob!’ But, you know, he would have said that if I’d have proposed doing a concert in my living-room.”
It is commonly supposed that Geldof and Bono revel in their roles as rock’s charitable ambassadors. The truth is that both are deeply ambivalent. “I really did not want to take this on, because the cost to me of Live Aid personally and emotionally was profound,” says Geldof.
Bono, meanwhile, has been concerned that his political lobbying could be compromising his band. “A rock star looks much better on a barricade with a handkerchief over his nose and a Molotov cocktail in his hand than he does with a bowler hat and a briefcase full of World Bank reports,” he says.
Both men are driven by a profound yet highly personal sense of conscience and duty. “The thing is,” says Geldof, “when you get it, when you see it, when you know that you can probably pull it off - not to try would feel like a betrayal of those in whose name all of this is done.”