Bob Geldof urges Boris Johnson to change ‘cruel’ foreign aid plan
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Mr Geldof, 70, is an Irish singer-songwriter who has also carved out a profile as a political activist. He is best known as the frontman of the Boomtown Rats, who formed in Dublin and shot to fame in the late Seventies. The group scored hit records with songs like ‘Rat Trap’, ‘Clockwork’ and ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. However, the band split up in 1985, a year after Mr Geldof’s Live Aid charity supergroup formed to aid the relief of famine in Ethiopia.
The Rats reformed in 2013, went on a tour of the UK and Ireland and subsequently began recording their first new music for decades.
‘Citizens of Boomtown’, their first studio album since ‘In the Long Grass’ in 1984, was released last year.
Now, a new documentary is to chart the band’s remarkable story, how they shot to fame and their reformation.
‘Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of the Boomtown Rats’ will air on BBC Four this evening.
It features contributions from rock music royalty including Sinéad O’Connor, Sting and Bono.
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Since reforming with the Rats eight years ago, Mr Geldof has not lost his reputation as an activist.
In October 2018, the musician waded into the Brexit debate by penning a strongly worded open letter to the Government.
Mr Geldof argued that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU would wreak huge consequences for the UK music industry.
Addressed to then-Prime Minister Theresa May, it was signed by a string of genre-spanning musical stars.
Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Simon Rattle, and Brian Eno, all added their names to the plea.
Mr Geldof’s impassioned arguments were swiftly dismantled however, by Royal College of Music teacher Ivan Hewett, who accused him of conjuring “disasters where none exist”.
The Rats frontman starts the letter: “Imagine Britain without its music. If it’s hard for us, then it’s impossible for the rest of the world.
“In this one area, if nowhere else, Britain does still rule the waves. The airwaves. The cyberwaves. The soundwaves. It is of us. It is our culture.”
However, in a piece for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hewett dismantled some of the musician’s more spurious claims.
Among them was Mr Geldof’s assertion that UK-based artists would see their royalties cost significantly more post-Brexit.
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In response, Mr Hewett said: “Geldof spoils his case by exaggeration, and hinting at disasters where none exist.
“He tells us that 60 percent of all royalty revenue comes from within the EU.
“Well yes, and after March 30, 2019 [the UK’s previous EU exit date], the business of collecting and distributing royalties, in and out of the UK, will carry on exactly as before.
“And there are no plans to change the period of copyright legislation.”
Most of Mr Geldof’s letter did not feature technical details, rather broad statements, including about what constitutes “proper Global Britain”.
In one of the most striking lines, the musician said that through Brexit: “We have decided to put ourselves inside a self-built cultural jail!”
Mr Hewett rebutted this, writing: “There’s also his glaring non sequitur, of saying that to foster a sense of open, ‘Global Britain’ we have to continue our current political and economic ties with Europe, forever.
“But why should we privilege theatre companies and orchestras from Lyon over those from Cape Town or Melbourne or Minsk?”
Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of the Boomtown Rats will be shown on BBC Four on Friday from 9pm-10:30pm.
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