Boomtown Rats guitarist Garry Roberts dead at 72

Garry Roberts in 1979
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Getty Images)

Garry Roberts, founding lead guitarist with Irish punk/new wave band The Boomtown Rats, has died at the age of 72. The news was confirmed in a social media post from the band.

The band's statement read: "It is with very great grief that the members of The Boomtown Rats announce the death this morning of Garry Roberts, their friend and guitarist.

"The remaining members of the band, Pete, Bob, Simon, Darren and Al 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, 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 statement was signed by Roberts' bandmates: Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette, Simon Crowe, Darren Beale and Alan Dunne.

Roberts was born in Dublin in 1950 and formed his first band with future Boomtown Rats drummer Simon Crowe while the pair attended Newtown School in Waterford. The Boomtown Rats were formed in his parents' kitchen in Dun Laoghaire in 1975, and went on to enjoy a string of UK Top 40 hits between 1977 and 1980, including two Number 1s, Rat Trap and I Don't Like Mondays

After the Boomtown Rats went on hiatus in 1985, shortly after performing at Live Aid, Roberts worked as a live sound engineer for the likes of Simply Red, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Flesh For Lulu. He played on Bob Geldof's 2011 solo album How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell, and was part of the reformed Boomtown Rats lineup that released the Citizens of Boomtown album in 2019. 

Away from music, Roberts worked as an independent financial adviser, taking up the job after his girlfriend became pregnant and he needed a more reliable source of income. He later became a central heating engineer. 

No cause of death has been announced.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.