The Boomtown Rats’ Founding Member and Guitarist Garry Roberts Dies at 72

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Garry Roberts, lead guitarist and founding member of The Boomtown Rats, has died. The band’s singer Bob Geldof, bassist Pete Briquette, and drummer Simon Crowe announced the guitarist’s death in a statement. No cause of death has been revealed. Roberts was 72.

“It is with very great grief that the members of The Boomtown Rats announce the death this morning of Garry Roberts their old friend and great guitarist,” said The Boomtown Rats in their statement. “The remaining members of the band, Pete, Bob, and Simon, extend their deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”

The band added, “On a clear Spring evening in 1975, in a pub in Dun Laoghaire, Co. [County] Dublin Garry became the founding member of what turned out to be a great rock and roll band and driven largely by that sound of his, a storm of massive considered noise that punched out from his overtaxed amplifiers and which animated not just the rest of the group but audiences he played to around the world.”

In 1975, Roberts, along with original keyboardist Johnnie “Fingers” Moylett formed the band recruiting Geldof, Briquette, Crowe, and guitarist Gerry Cott and was instrumental in naming the band The Boomtown Rats after threatening to quit if they didn’t change their name from The Nightlife Thugs. The Boomtown Rats was eventually pulled by Geldof, and inspired by the Woody Guthrie autobiography, Bound for Glory.

Between 1977 and 1980, The Boomtown Rats released nine consecutive top 20 singles—including “Rat Trap,” “She’s So Modern,” “Like Clockwork,” and their more epic The Fine Art of Surfacing single “I Don’t Like Mondays,” written by Geldof about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego, California—before disbanding in 1984.

The Boomtown Rats reunited again in 2013 and released their seventh album, Citizens of Boomtown, in 2020, their first release since In the Long Grass in 1984. A documentary on the band, Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of The Boomtown Rats, was also released in 2020.

The band also called Roberts “A man who will be missed, a friend who will be remembered, a sound that will never be forgotten,” in an additional statement on social media.

“For fans he was ‘The Legend,’ and he was,” continued The Boomtown Rats in their official statement. “For us he was Gazzer, the guy who summed up the sense of who The Rats are. We have known Garry since we were children and so we feel strangely adrift without him tonight. Safe travels Gaz.”

Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images)

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