7. Garry Roberts – The Boomtown Rats
The headmaster in Garry’s Dublin high school called Garry’s parents in one day to suggest they move their son to a boarding school, “where someone can keep a closer eye on him”.
His enforced move to a Quaker-run boarding school just outside Waterford proved a great success, but not for the reasons anyone anticipated. When Garrick clapped eyes and ears on the school rock group, he knew that was what he wanted to do.
“I was already listening to the Pretty Things, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck and John Mayall and this was it.”
His early efforts with his dad’s acoustic guitar were cut short when it was lost in a school fire, but dad stumped up the cash for an electric replacement and soon Garrick and his mate Johnnie Fingers were regular fixtures at parties. Johnny on piano and Garrick on guitar.
Eventually, in the direction these things go, they decided to form a group and assembled a few more friends and relations It was Garrick who approached Bob Geldof to be their manager.
“I’d known Bob for ages”, “He only lived up the road. He knew a lot about music and had an astute business brain.”
However, Bob arrived for a band rehearsal in Garrick’s kitchen carrying a harmonica and a Dr Feelgood album. It wasn’t long before he was the singer.
“Up until then I had taken the lead vocals,” Garrick explained, “but I wasn’t happy with it. Bob looked good and had the presence and so we decided he should take it on.”
The rest is history.
When Bob Geldof went to pursue a solo career away from The Boomtown Rats, it left Garry Roberts in musical limbo. For a while Garry worked as a sound engineer with acts like Simply Red and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. He then sold life insurance for 15 years, and later became a central heating engineer – “I love nice-looking pipework”.
The Boomtown Rats guitarist Garry Roberts is still touring with The Boomtown Rats drummer Simon Crowe with the addition of Peter Barton on bass, and Darren Beale on lead guitar.
Garry lives in Herefordshire in England.