The annual music confab South By Southwest announced its 2011 keynote speaker, Bob Geldof. The former Boomtown Rats frontman will also be a showcase performer at the music portion of the conference, which begins on March 16 in Austin, Texas. Appropriately, the Ireland native will deliver his keynote speech on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.
Geldof began his music career as a journalist, then formed Boomtown Rats at a time when The Ramones, Blondie and Patti Smith would dramatically shape the sound and look of rock music. The Rats’ breakout hit “I Don’t Like Mondays” topped the U.K. charts in 1979.
The following decade, Geldof organized the star-studded Live Aid performance of “Do They Know it’s Christmas,” which inspired the USA for Africa version “We Are The World. Geldof would later say, “I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history.”
His charitable efforts continued as Geldof persuaded longtime pal Bono to co-found the ONE campaign. Geldof also successfully lobbied world leaders at the British G8 of 2005 through Live8, which resulted in the cancellation of Third World debt and an increase in aid for the poorest countries.
South By Southwest, which is often affectionately characterized as “spring break for the music industry,” celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It also boasts a film festival and interactive conference. For more information, check out sxsw.com.