The Boomtown Rats guitarist Garry Roberts dies aged 72

Garry Roberts, the guitarist and founding member of Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats, has died at the age of 72.

Roberts is said to have been instrumental in the band settling on the name The Boomtown Rats and “summed up the sense of who The Rats are”, the group said in a statement today (November 9).

No cause of death was given at the time of writing.

The Boomtown Rats, fronted by singer and political activist Bob Geldof, wrote in a statement on their Facebook page: “It is with very great grief that the members of The Boomtown Rats announce the death this morning of Garry Roberts, our friend and guitarist.

“The remaining members of the band, Pete, Bob, Simon, Darren and Al extend their deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”

It is with very great grief that the members of The Boomtown Rats announce the death this morning of Garry Roberts, our…

Posted by The Boomtown Rats on Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The band, who are known for songs ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and ‘Like Clockwork’, reflected more on Roberts and the band’s founding in Dublin in the mid-’70s.

“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, 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 Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats performing live in 2016. CREDIT: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Roberts is said to have originally threatened to quit the band unless they changed their name from The Nightlife Thugs [via BBC News].

Geldof eventually came up with The Boomtown Rats after he read the phrase in US protest singer Woody Guthrie’s autobiography Bound For Glory.

In a tweet the band also described Roberts as: “A man who will be missed, a friend who will be remembered, a sound that will never been forgotten.”

See tributes to Roberts below.