So you’re wanting the back story on Bob Geldof’s visit to Vanderbilt? The celebrity demands? The flights from the paparazzi? The trashed hotel rooms?
Okay, nothing like that happened. They don’t call him Sir Bob Geldof for nothing – from all reports he was the most gracious, down-to-earth and intellectually engaged rockstar I’ve ever almost met.
He arrived in town Wednesday evening and dined at Sunset Grill. Was psyched to hear The Commodores were playing The PARTY, but arrived a bit too late and knackered to catch the show. Thursday of course he spoke to us. Before taking the stage he personally thanked each of the students who had just delivered prayers and remarks and commented on what he liked and respected about what they each said. Next came his speech, which we all know rocked.
And then things got fun. Geldof and manager wanted to see some sites in our fair city before jetting back to London. Had never been here! Imagine that. Who better to take them than unabashed rock-and-roll fantatic Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Mike Schoenfeld.
So Schoenfeld, Geldof and his manager pile in the car for a quick drive around. Start off where we all start off with out of town guests, The Parthenon, which draws incredulous jokes and then admiration from the Boomtown Rat. Head next to Music Row, which continues to be not what anyone pictures – no wandering troubadours, mostly a bunch of offices. But then they happen upon RCA’s Studio B.
Studio B! Elvis recorded there! Geldof wants in.
Usually you need tickets for Studio B. But usually you’re not with Bob Geldof. Schoenfeld opens the door – makes some intros and in they go. Geldof and manager are TICKLED PINK. Soaking it all up, taking it all in. Mugging for the camera, taking photos like tourists, digging the vibe, admiring the old school equipment. Then Geldof sees the piano – the one Jerry Lee Lewis and others played on – and starts playing. Oh Yes He Did.
Around this time, a real tour group comes in, and some take a look through the studio window. “Hey isn’t that…” “Well he looks like a rockstar…” “Wait a minute that’s Bob Geldof!”
More pictures. Autographs. Aspiring musicians offering Geldof their CDs. Piano playing. Grins all around. Wow.
Highlight of the trip, Geldof said. That and talking to us, of course.
Phew. I do loves me a celebrity story (even when it’s secondhand).