The singers Bono and Bob Geldof have incurred the wrath of Brian Johnson, a fellow rock star and frontman of AC/DC, over their celebrity activism.
Johnson, the gravel-voiced British singer of Australia’s biggest rock band, has joined a growing group of critics of Geldof and the U2 singer over their very public charity work, saying they should stop lecturing audiences about charity work and instead do their good deeds in private.
“I do it myself, I don’t tell everybody I’m doing it,” Johnson, 62, told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
“I don’t tell everybody they should give money – they can’t afford it. When I was a working man I didn’t want to go to a concert for some bastard to talk down to me that I should be thinking of some kid in Africa.”
He then offered some words of advice to his fellow rockers: “I’m sorry mate, do it yourself, spend some of your own money and get it done. It just makes me angry. I become all tyrannical.”
AC/DC were asked to play at the Live Aid concert in 1985, but turned down the chance to play at the charity event, which raised an estimated £100 million for famine relief and made an international celebrity activist out of Geldof.
Johnson described Geldof, who also organised the Live 8 benefit concerts in support of the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, as a “canny lad”.
“He did what he though was right at the time but it didn’t work,” Johnson said of Geldof’s Live Aid concert. “The money didn’t go to poor people. It makes me mad when people try to use politics or charity for publicity. Do a charity gig, fair enough, but not on worldwide television.”
Johnson’s tirade against the two Irish multi-millionaires is not the first time their charitable work has earned them criticism for letting their egos get in the way of campaigns.
Bono, who regularly lobbies governments on behalf of the world’s poor, is a fixture of the annual G8 summits, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and has an honorary knighthood, was also attacked by the author Paul Theroux in 2005.
Theroux claimed the U2 singer was part of a group of celebrity “mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth”, and accused him of perpetuating the lie that Africa was fatally troubled and could only be saved by outside help.
Bono responded by calling his critics “cranks carping from the sidelines”, during an interview with the Times in 2006.
“A lot of them wouldn’t know what to do if they were on the field. They’re the party who will always be in opposition so they’ll never have to take responsibility for decisions because they know they’ll never be able to implement them,” Bono said.