Great Britain

Bob Geldof reveals how a grim abattoir inspired Boomtown Rats’ number one hit Rat Trap on Chris Evans’ Virgin Radio Show

BOB Geldof revealed how the hopelessness of working in a slaughterhouse inspired him to write Boomtown Rats' number one hit Rat Trap.

The Live Aid mastermind, 68, was just 19 when he penned the track that would go on to dethrone Olivia Newton John from the summit of the UK singles chart.

Speaking to Chris Evans on his Virgin Radio Breakfast Show, Bob said: "In the case of the abattoir I was working in, it was a slaughterhouse of dreams rather than an abattoir for animals.

"The people working there were hopeless and had nowhere else to go. They were just trapped as the animals that we were killing.

"And I mean, for me, I was a kid. I knew there was something else. I wasn't sure what, I knew I had to chase it and find it.

"And I needed some cash. I didn't know I was writing our first number one. The first Irish number one ever and the first new wave... I didn't understand that.

"I didn't think I was writing the song. I was just writing a story about the people that were around me, to what end, I had no idea."

The track shifted 680,000 units to reach number one, and the magnitude of that was not lost on the veteran rocker.

"That's six hundred and eighty thousand people had to save their pocket money, walk down to a record shop and ask for it and look around at all the records and what everybody else has out," said Bob.

"But we did kill Olivia Newton-John's single."

He reflected on his upbringing in Ireland, and the struggles his family faced.

The singer's mum died when he was just seven and his dad was often absent selling towels around rural Ireland.

He said: "Zero economy, there was no money in the house. There was no telly. There was no phone.

"My sister didn't want to be a surrogate mum at 17. So she got married to the local cop quickly. My middle sister was the family swot. So she stayed in school and the nuns gave her dinner. So I'd come home and it was crap."

It was rock legends such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who gave him hope through their music.

He said: "And the truth was that these boys and girls of 19 called Mick and Keith, or John and Paul, or Bob and Pete were telling me things that it wasn't going to be always crap, that there were other universes, other possibilities, and that the language of that possibility was rock and roll.

"And the platform of that change was rock and roll. And change was coming. It was inevitable. It was desirable.

"You could help steer that change towards a world that was more acceptable of you. And that's what I took hold. That was all that was offered to me."

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