Garry Roberts, founding guitarist of The Boomtown Rats, dies aged 72

Garry Roberts
(Image credit: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images)

Garry Roberts, founding guitarist of Irish rock outfit The Boomtown Rats, has died aged 72. No cause of death has been announced as of yet.

The band’s remaining members – Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette, Simon Crowe, Darren Beale and Alan Dunne – confirm Roberts’ passing in a statement.

“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 Dún Laoghaire, County 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.”

[L-R] Garry Roberts, Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette, and Darren Beale of The Boomtown Rats

(Image credit: Harry Herd/Redferns)

Born in Dublin in 1950, Garry Roberts formed his first band with his future Boomtown Rats bandmate Simon Crowe while the pair were still at school, before founding The Boomtown Rats some years later in 1975.

It’s said that Roberts was instrumental in deciding upon The Boomtown Rats as a name; the band booked their first gig as The Nightlife Thugs, but Roberts reportedly threatened to quit unless the name was changed.

The Boomtown Rats enjoyed success relatively shortly after their formation, issuing a string of UK Top 40 hits between 1977 and 1980, including two Number Ones: Rat Trap and I Don’t Like Mondays.

The band called it quits in 1985 following a performance at Live Aid, but reformed again in 2013, releasing their seventh full-length, Citizens of Boomtown, in 2020.

Roberts worked as a live sound engineer for acts including Simply Red, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Flesh for Lulu. He also lent his guitar skills to Bob Geldof’s 2011 solo album, How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell.

Outside of music, the guitarist worked as an independent financial adviser, and later as a central heating engineer.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.