- 09 Nov 22
Fans of Irish music were dealt a severe blow today, with the news that the guitarist and founder member of The Boomtown Rats, Garry Roberts, has died. The news was announced in a statement issued by the remaining band members...
Hot Press is desperately sad to hear news today of the death of Garry Roberts, a founder-member of The Boomtown Rats – one of the most important and influential Irish bands of all time.
The news came through in statement issued by the three remaining members of the band, Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette and Simon Crowe.
"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.
"The remaining members of the band, Pete, Bob and Simon, extend their deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
"On a clear Spring evening in 1975, in a pub in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin Garry became THE founding member of what turned out to be a great rock’n'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.
"For fans he was The Legend – and he was. 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. Thanks for everything mate."
The message is signed by Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette and Simon Crowe.
“Garry was every inch a rock ’n’ roller,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “The Boomtown Rats made a brilliant noise and it was Garry’s guitar which drove that. He was a fine musician, but he also embodied the spirit of rock music. He loved being in a band – and even more so being in a hugely successful band that changed the musical landscape in Ireland completely. The Rats' fantastic, and extraordinarily quick success from 1977 onwards made it possible for Irish musicians to dream big – leading on to the success of U2, and all of the bands and artists that followed in their wake.
“Garry, and his ability as a guitar player, were central to that success – which arrived at its apotheosis when the band’s single ‘Rat Trap’ hit No.1 in the UK, in 1978 – pushing ‘Summer Nights’ by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John off the top of the UK charts.
“I hadn’t spoken to Garry for some time, but I was really glad to have the opportunity to talk to him again, when he was in town with The Boomtown Rats, for the Late Late Show special celebrating Bob Geldof’s 70th birthday. He was in really good form that night and loving being back in the game with Bob and the boys.
“It is a very sad day day for Irish music – and for everyone who loved The Boomtown Rats, and who understood and appreciated what they achieved for this country culturally and musically."
Pugwash and Duckworth Lewis Method man Thomas Walsh recalls just how important the Rats were to their Irish fans:
The iconic moment on TOTP when THE RATS HIT NUMBER 1.
The whole of Ireland and the U.K huddled around the TV but it was way more important the Irish. A moment as vital as anything in our history because of the feeling of hope it gave us. RIP Garry Roberts https://t.co/IHlw3xK4B3
— Thomas Walsh (@ThomasWalsh1) November 9, 2022
Adds Imelda May: "So sorry to hear about Garry Roberts. Total legend and thoroughly nice man. Sending love to his family, friends and band family."
Superstar producer Tony Visconti says: "Gary was such a driving force in the band. I really enjoyed working with him on Mondo Bongo."
Rock 'n' roll vibemaster BP Fallon messages: "God Bless Garry Roberts of The Boomtown Rats, whose guitar drove the group like a one-man Ramones. More importantly, he was an exceedingly good bloke. Garry, thank you - shine on x."
The Minister for Culture, Catherine Martin, tweets: "I am sorry to hear the news of the death of Garry Roberts. His guitar was the heart of the sound of the Boomtown Rats as they rose to the top of the charts at home and abroad, winning fans and challenging orthodoxies along the way. My deepest condolences to his family and friends."
Numerous tributes have been paid to Garry by Rats fans, including the following:
THE BOOMTOWN RATS weren't part of my youth.THEY WERE MY YOUTH! and were for many more like me fed up with the corrupt cronyism of Ireland....''Glad to see the place again
It's a pity nothing's changed pic.twitter.com/r9CM6vJZE0
— MARK MANNING MEDIA (@markmanning) November 10, 2022
Absolutely gutted to hear that Garry Roberts has passed away. He was such a lovely guy and a brilliant guitar player #theboomtownrats #garryroberts pic.twitter.com/FlvETeCscU
— Strange.little.girl (@Strangelittleg5) November 10, 2022
Picture of back of album cover, signed by the band.
RIP Garry Roberts pic.twitter.com/CYD0BcSHmK
— 🟥Willie Grumpy Bot Ross 💚💟💜 (@WillietheFly) November 10, 2022
The Rats helped change Ireland. And made a stack great records while they were at it. Rock on forever Garry Roberts. https://t.co/3j7ovDHoC6
— Neil McCormick (@neil_mccormick) November 10, 2022
Extremely sad to hear the news about Garry Roberts.
The Boomtown Rats were such a fresh sound. This is my favourite.
RIP Sir. Thank you for the music.https://t.co/CG9GCvyGWb
— Mr Benn (@therealmrbenn) November 9, 2022
Garry Roberts always had time for the fans. Friendly and generous. RIP. Cheers, Irene. https://t.co/Csa2UGWDhj
— Bob Geldof (@bobgeldoffans) November 9, 2022
If you’re an Irish person of a certain age. You got your music fix from Top of The Pops and when the BBC DJ said ‘Now from Dublin..The Boomtown Rats’… it really blew your mind. #GarryRoberts pic.twitter.com/BPO4FdlUzJ
— Ken Sweeney (@KenSweeney) November 9, 2022