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Top 20 Celebrity Activists of All Time

An inside look at stars ranging from Harry Belafonte to Ronald Reagan

Activist Bob Geldof listens to President George W. Bush speak about international development

Bob Geldof listens as President George W. Bush speaks at the White House Summit on International Development in Washington in 2008. — Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Bob Geldof

The popularity of the Boomtown Rats, punk-rock pioneers, was already in decline when frontman Geldof recruited an all-star team of British rockers in 1984 under the name Band-Aid to perform a benefit single for famine-stricken African nations called "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

After that song broke sales records and raised millions of dollars, the next year, he organized Live Aid, mammoth famine-relief concerts held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. (Geldof was knighted for his efforts.) Twenty years later, he returned with "Live 8" — 10 concerts around the globe crowded with musicians and movie stars that were timed to pressure the Group of Eight industrial nations then meeting to increase aid to Africa.

Geldof imagined celebrity activism at a previously unseen, global scale: He went further than any activist before him to convert the worldwide fame of the most iconic popular entertainers into a political force.

Next: Lee Greenwood >>

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