Obituary: Garry Roberts, guitarist, co-founder of Boomtown Rats and has a string of hits

Garry Roberts, who died aged 72, was the co-founder and lead guitarist of the Boomtown Rats, the band that fueled the punk wave with hits like Rat Trap and I Don’t Like Mondays and launched the outstanding career of Bob Geldof.

arrick Roberts was born in Dublin on June 16, 1950, and grew up a few miles away in Dún Laoghaire. At boarding school, Newtown Quaker School in Waterford, he formed a band with future Rats drummer Simon Crowe, inspired by bands like Small Faces, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds.

Roberts took music lessons in piano and clarinet – he also soon aspired to be a doctor – but was captivated by the guitar. “At school there was a dance every semester called the Dinner Dance,” he recalls. “The first dance I went to, there were Friday people there with electric guitars and I thought, ‘God, that’s great,’ and that’s what motivated me to play.”

Roberts was the original lead singer, while Geldof was only seen by the band as a potential manager, but when he went to a practice session and played the harmonica on the Dr Feelgood track the band was practicing, they saw A man in front of him was about to explode. and give him the job.

The band – Roberts, Crowe, Geldof, Johnnie Fingers on keyboards, Pete Briquette on bass and Gerry Cott on rhythm guitar – was originally called Nightlife Thugs, they played a gig. But Roberts threatened to quit if it wasn’t changed, and Geldof came up with a new name, inspired by Woody Guthrie’s account of his childhood gang in his autobiography. Binding for glory.

They quickly established themselves as a successful live band here, then in 1976 they moved to London in search of a record deal.

They turned down £1m to sign Richard Branson’s burgeoning Virgin Records for 10 years when they realized that if they were as successful as they hoped it would become a worthless deal and replace it. on which they signed with Ensign Records.

They gave their first UK gig at Ribchester, north-west England, in May 1977, and went on to support Tom Petty, Talking Heads and the Ramones. In August of that year, they released their debut single, Look at the number 1which they played in their TV debut, on Program Marc Bolantwo weeks before the death of the glam rock god in a car accident.​

It was the first in a series of hit records — all fueled by Roberts’ razor-sharp guitars — that continued unabated for five years and included the number one spot in the UK. Great Britain, mouse trap (also topped the US charts) and I don’t like Monday (probably not because of its inspiration, a school shooting in San Diego).

But by 1983-84, the wave of popularity had subsided – albeit with a brief resurgence when they played Live Aid, hosted by their lead singer – and in 1986 the Rats broke up when Geldof left go to solo activities.

Roberts wrote songs for Kirsty MacColl and worked as a live sound engineer for bands including Simply Red and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and played on several Geldof solo records. He eventually left the music scene, working as a financial advisor for 15 years and then as a central heating engineer, although he did organize guitar workshops for schools, during There he emphasized the primacy of the blues over rock music.

He reconnected with his old friend and colleague Simon Crowe, in the Fab Four and the Velcro Profile. In 2008 they formed the Rats, playing songs from the band’s first three albums, then in 2013, Roberts brought Crowe, Geldof and Briquette together to join the reformed Boomtown Rats, who enjoyed a tour. new living, touring and recording.

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Telegraph Communication Company Limited [2022] Obituary: Garry Roberts, guitarist, co-founder of Boomtown Rats and has a string of hits

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