The Boomtown Rats

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The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats at Knott's Berry Farm in 1981
Background information
Origin County Dublin, Ireland
Years active1975–1986, 2013–present
Labels Mulligan, Ensign, Mercury
Associated acts Band Aid, Live Aid, Live 8
Members Bob Geldof
Pete Briquette
Simon Crowe
Garry Roberts
Past members Johnnie Fingers
Gerry Cott

The Boomtown Rats are an Irish rock band that had a series of Irish and UK hits between 1977 and 1985. The group is led by vocalist Bob Geldof. [1] The other members of the original line-up were Garry Roberts (lead guitar), Johnnie Fingers (keyboards), Pete Briquette (bass), Gerry Cott (rhythm guitar) and Simon Crowe (drums). The Boomtown Rats broke up in 1986, but reformed in 2013, without Johnnie Fingers or Gerry Cott.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Bob Geldof Irish singer-songwriter, author and political activist

Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof, is an Irish singer-songwriter, author, political activist and occasional actor. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s and early 1980s, alongside the punk rock movement. The band had Number One hits with his compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". Geldof co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles of all time, and starred in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall as "Pink".

Garry Roberts is the former lead guitarist with the Irish band, The Boomtown Rats, which came into being in 1976. He and Johnnie Fingers (Moylett) had decided to put a band together and, between them, they recruited the other four members, Pete Briquette (bass), Gerry Cott (guitar), Simon Crowe (drums) and singer Bob Geldof.



Most of the six members originate from Dún Laoghaire, Ireland; Pete Briquette was originally from Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan, Ireland. [1] Having been booked for their first gig under the name The Nightlife Thugs, the group agreed to change their name – when Garry Roberts threatened to resign if they were called that – to The Boomtown Rats, after a gang of children about whom Geldof had read in Woody Guthrie's autobiography Bound for Glory . [1] They became a notable band, but one whose accomplishments were overshadowed by the charity work of frontman Bob Geldof, a former journalist with the New Musical Express . [2]

Dún Laoghaire Town in Leinster, Ireland

Dún Laoghaire is a suburban coastal town in County Dublin, Ireland, about 12 km south of Dublin city centre. It is the county town of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. Formerly a major port of entry from Great Britain, it was known as Dunleary until 1821 when it was renamed Kingstown in honour of King George IV's visit that year, and in 1920 was given its present name, the original Irish form of Dunleary.

Pete Briquette Irish bass guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter

Patrick Martin Cusack, known by the stage name Pete Briquette, is an Irish bassist, record producer and composer. He was a member of the Boomtown Rats and currently plays in Bob Geldof's band.

Ballyjamesduff Town in Ulster, Ireland

Ballyjamesduff is a town in County Cavan, Ireland. A former market town, it was the winner of the 1966 and 1967 Irish Tidy Towns Competition.

In the summer of 1976, the group played their first U.K. gig in London followed by gigs in the Netherlands (Groningen and The Milky Way Club in Amsterdam) before moving to London where they signed with Ensign Records later that year. Their first single, "Lookin' After No. 1", came out in August 1977. It reached the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart, the first of a long string of successes. [1] [3] The album The Boomtown Rats was released the following month; it included another single, "Mary of the 4th Form". [1] Music journalist Martin C. Strong commented, "Geldof's moody charisma helped to give the band a distinct identity". [2]

Ensign Records was started in 1976 by London-born Nigel Grainge, as a record label distributed by Phonogram Inc. Grainge is the elder brother of Universal Music Group Chairman, Sir Lucian Grainge.

"Lookin' After No. 1" is the first single by The Boomtown Rats. It appears on their first album The Boomtown Rats. The single was released in August 1977 after the band had performed a five date tour supporting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. "Lookin' After No. 1" was the first so-called new wave single to be play listed by the BBC and the Boomtown Rats subsequently became the first new wave band to be offered an appearance on Top Of The Pops performing the song. The song reached number 2 on the Irish Singles Chart and spent nine weeks in the UK Singles Chart reaching a peak of number 11. Different covers were produced for releases in the Netherlands and Japan. Reviewer David Clancy described the song as having a "breakneck sneering selfishness".

In the music industry, the top 40 is the current, 40 most-popular songs in a particular genre. It is the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music. Record charts have traditionally consisted of a total of 40 songs. "Top 40" or "contemporary hit radio" is also a radio format. Frequent variants of the Top 40 are the Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, Top 50, Top 75, Top 100 and Top 200.

Their next album, A Tonic for the Troops (1978), featured three hit singles, "Like Clockwork", "She's So Modern" and "Rat Trap". The US version of the album (with a slightly different selection of tracks) came out the next year on Columbia Records. [1] Mutt Lange produced [3] "Rat Trap", which became the first rock song by an Irish band to reach No. 1 in the UK. In addition, "Rat Trap" was also the first new wave song to claim the number one spot. [3] [4]

<i>A Tonic for the Troops</i> 1978 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

A Tonic for the Troops is the second album by The Boomtown Rats. It was released in 1978 and included the hit singles "She's So Modern", "Like Clockwork" and "Rat Trap". The album peaked at No. 8 in the UK Albums Chart in 1978.

"Like Clockwork" is a single by The Boomtown Rats. It was the band's first to reach the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 6.

"She's So Modern" is a song by The Boomtown Rats. It was the first single taken from the band's second album A Tonic for the Troops, whose title comes from a line in this song: "Charlie ain't no Nazi, she just likes to wear her leather boots, 'cos it's exciting for the veterans and it's a tonic for the troops". The single continued the Rats' high-energy post-punk/new wave sound that had typified earlier releases, but its fame would later be eclipsed by that of the band's more ballad-like global hit "I Don't Like Mondays". It has been described as "harmlessly smirking bubblegum a la The Knack".

In 1979, "I Don't Like Mondays" was released. [1] This was written in response to a school shooting in California carried out by Brenda Ann Spencer, and also reached No. 1 in the UK. [3] It was a worldwide hit, with the exception being the United States. [5] It was the band's only song to reach the US Billboard Hot 100 and was included in the band's third album, The Fine Art of Surfacing . [1] The album also contained "Diamond Smiles" and their next Top 10 hit in the UK, "Someone's Looking at You". [1]

I Dont Like Mondays song by Bob Geldof

"I Don't Like Mondays" is a song by Irish group The Boomtown Rats about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego. It was released in 1979 as the lead single from their third album, The Fine Art of Surfacing. The song was a number one single in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks during the summer of 1979, and ranks as the sixth biggest hit of the UK in 1979. Written by Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers, the piano ballad was the band's second single to reach number one on the UK charts.

The Grover Cleveland Elementary School shooting took place on January 29, 1979, at a public elementary school in San Diego, California, United States. The principal and a custodian were killed; eight children and a police officer were injured. A 16-year-old girl, Brenda Spencer, who lived in a house across the street from the school, was convicted of the shootings. Tried as an adult, she pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, and was given an indefinite sentence. As of March 2019, she remains in prison.

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

In 1980 "Banana Republic" was released, which was their last Top 10 hit, and in the following year the Boomtown Rats' next studio album Mondo Bongo was issued. [1]

Banana Republic (song) 1980 single by The Boomtown Rats

"Banana Republic" was the first single from The Boomtown Rats' album Mondo Bongo. It peaked at number three in the UK Singles Chart.

<i>Mondo Bongo</i> 1980 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

Mondo Bongo was The Boomtown Rats' fourth album. It peaked at No. 6 in the UK Albums Chart in February 1981, and No. 116 in the US Billboard 200.

Cott's departure

Cott departed from the band at this point. According to Bob Geldof's autobiography, Is That It?, Cott had grown disillusioned with what he saw as the band's growing laziness in the studio, and their apparent relinquishing of their early R&B influences in favour of "cod-reggae". Throughout his time with the band, Cott had maintained a distance between himself and the other members and he resigned the day before the end of their 1981 world tour, only hours after the rest of the band had decided to confront him for refusing to join them and the road crew for a drink to celebrate Simon Crowe's birthday.

Cott had a short-lived solo career, releasing two UK singles, "The Ballad of the Lone Ranger" and "Pioneers" and the 1984 Canadian single "Alphabet Town".

V Deep

The band's fifth album, V Deep , was released in February 1982. [1] The first single was "Never in a Million Years" which did not sell well, while the follow-up "House on Fire" made number 24 in the UK Singles Chart. In the US, the album was initially rejected by their American label, which instead issued a four-song EP called The Boomtown Rats, featuring four selections from V Deep. The full album was eventually issued in the US in late 1982. [6]

A follow-up album entitled In The Long Grass was recorded in 1983, but was initially rejected by the group's label. [6] By 1984, the band was touring universities after becoming unable to fund the "guarantee" required to book mainstream concert halls. In The Long Grass was finally issued in the UK in May 1984, but failed to chart. Two singles, "Tonight" and "Drag Me Down", were taken from the album; these reached the lower rungs of the UK Singles Chart, but two further singles, "Dave" and "A Hold Of Me", failed to hit the UK top 75.

The Boomtown Rats' involvement with Band Aid (on which they all played) raised their profile again, and in January 1985, a revised version of In the Long Grass was finally released in the US. The album made the US charts at #188, but the associated singles failed to make an impact on the charts or on the radio. The band subsequently performed at Live Aid's charity performance. [1]

"Dave" became "Rain" in the US

"Dave", a single from the original release of In the Long Grass was re-recorded as "Rain" for the US market. The song was about the band's saxophone player and school friend David MacHale (died 2009), who had suffered a breakdown after his girlfriend was found dead in a public toilet next to an empty heroin bag. [7] The 'Rain' metaphor in the altered lyrics referenced Duran Duran's earlier song "Hold Back The Rain", where Geldof's friend Simon Le Bon pleaded with an unnamed band member to cease dabbling with narcotics.

Rats split

After this, the band was mothballed while Geldof wound up his affairs with the Band Aid Trust, during which time he succeeded in getting them a one-album deal with Vertigo Records. However, both Crowe and Fingers refused to rejoin the Boomtown Rats full-time, preferring to pursue their own band, Gung Ho.

The band's final performance came at Self Aid, a 1986 concert featuring many Irish rock stars, to raise awareness of unemployment in Ireland. [8] Their rendition of "Joey's on the Street Again" was 12 minutes long, with an extended bridge, during which time Geldof ran among the crowd. Following this performance, Geldof addressed the crowd, saying, "It's been a great ten years; rest in peace". The band then performed "Looking After No.1".

Following the band's break-up, Geldof launched a solo career with Pete Briquette continuing to work alongside him.

Garry Roberts co-wrote songs for Kirsty MacColl before leaving the music business and going on to become a successful salesman of financial services. Roberts now presents his Guitar Workshop to schools, encouraging pupils to play the instrument and emphasising the contribution of The Blues to modern Rock and Pop music.

After Gung Ho split, Fingers became a highly successful music producer in Japan, as well as being part of the Japanese band Greengate. Simon Crowe is in the West Country-based Celtic instrumental band Jiggerypipery and has also run a clock making business.

In 2005 the band's albums were all remastered and re-released and a 'Best Of' compilation was released, along with two DVDs. Briquette mixed the live DVD and Francesco Cameli mixed the extra tracks for the re-release of the Boomtown Rats albums at Sphere Studios in London.

The Rats

In 2008, Garry Roberts and Simon Crowe, who had continued playing together in The Fab Four, with Alan Perman (ex Herman's Hermits) and Bob Doyle (who once auditioned unsuccessfully for E.L.O.), and The Velcro Flies, with Steve (Dusty) Hill and Gavin Petrie, got together as "The Rats", playing their favourite Boomtown Rats songs, with the classic line-up of two guitars, bass and drums. The band was initially fronted by Peter Barton, who has a long history, going back to the early 1980s, of playing with resurrected famous acts, including The Animals, The Hollies and Lieutenant Pigeon. Barton was replaced on lead vocals and bass by Bob Bradbury, who was the founder and main songwriter in Hello. Darren Beale, formerly of The Caves, played lead guitar. Saxophone player Andy Hamilton, who toured and recorded with The Boomtown Rats, including at Live Aid, played as a guest at some gigs.

Gerry Cott and Johnnie Fingers were invited to join the band when circumstances allow. Cott attended the Boomtown Rats' second gig (at The 100 Club on Oxford Street, London). Fingers, meanwhile, works for the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, but plans to join the band on stage when he is in the UK.

On 21 June 2009, Geldof, Roberts, and Briquette got together in Dublin to play "Dave", at a party to celebrate the life of Boomtown Rats' close friend and saxophone player, "Doctor" Dave MacHale, who had died of cancer in Frankfurt. "Dave" was a song Geldof wrote for MacHale in 1983, after MacHale's girlfriend died from a heroin overdose. [9]

On 20 September 2011, Gerry Cott guested with Geldof, Briquette and the rest of Geldof's band at The Cadogan Hall, London. They played three Boomtown Rats songs together prior to the encores. Cott returned to the stage for the final encore playing on two Geldof solo songs. [10]

The Boomtown Rats reform

The Boomtown Rats reformed in 2013. Bob Geldof said, "Playing again with the Rats and doing those great songs again will be exciting afresh. We were an amazing band and I just feel it's the right time to re-Rat, to go back to Boomtown for a visit." [11] In June 2013, it was announced that the band would be embarking on a UK and Ireland tour supported by a new compilation album, Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits . [12] The group performed at the Brentwood Festival in 2016, where Geldof attracted controversy for criticising the audience. [13] In April 2017, the band returned to the studio to record new material for their first studio album since In the Long Grass in 1984.[ citation needed ]





The Boomtown Rats


Studio albums

UK Top 40 singles

Related Research Articles

Johnnie Fingers is an Irish keyboardist and co founding member of the new wave band, The Boomtown Rats. He was notable for his attire of striped pyjamas on stage as well as his melodic piano style.

<i>The Boomtown Rats</i> (album) 1977 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

The Boomtown Rats is The Boomtown Rats' debut album and included the Rats' first hit single, "Lookin' After No. 1", as well as the subsequent single, "Mary of the 4th Form". The album peaked at No. 18 in the UK Albums Chart in 1977.

<i>The Fine Art of Surfacing</i> 1979 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

The Fine Art of Surfacing was The Boomtown Rats' third album and contained the hit-single releases, "I Don't Like Mondays", "Diamond Smiles" and "Someone's Looking at You". The album peaked at No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart in 1979.

<i>V Deep</i> 1982 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

V Deep was The Boomtown Rats' fifth album, and the first to be released after guitarist Gerry Cott left the group. It includes the minor hit single "House on Fire".

<i>The Boomtown Rats Greatest Hits</i> album by The Boomtown Rats

The Boomtown Rats' Greatest Hits is a compilation album of The Boomtown Rats' singles on Columbia Records from 1979 to 1985.

Rat Trap single by The Boomtown Rats

"Rat Trap" is a single by The Boomtown Rats, which reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in November 1978, the first single by a punk or new wave act to do so. It was written by Bob Geldof, and produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. It replaced "Summer Nights", a hit single for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the soundtrack of Grease, at number one in the UK chart after "Summer Nights" seven week reign at the top.

<i>Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats</i> 1994 greatest hits album by The Boomtown Rats

Loudmouth – The Best of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats is a 1994 greatest hits compilation album from Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, consisting mostly of Boomtown Rats material but also some of Geldof's solo work. It peaked at No. 10 in the UK Albums Chart in July 1994.

<i>In the Long Grass</i> 1984 studio album by The Boomtown Rats

In the Long Grass was their sixth and final studio album by The Boomtown Rats, released in 1984 in the UK and 1985 in the US.

Gerry Cott was a guitarist and songwriter with the Irish new wave band, The Boomtown Rats. He started playing flamenco guitar when he was 11 years old. In 1966 he saw Bob Dylan performing live in Dublin and the experience influenced him radically.

"Mary of the 4th Form" is the second single by The Boomtown Rats. It was the first song taken from the band's first album The Boomtown Rats but the single is a different, re-recorded version from that on the album and 19 seconds longer. On French and Dutch releases of the single, "Do the Rat" was the A-side. The song's theme, of a teacher's sexual attraction to a pubescent girl, who behaves in an overtly sexual manner, was resonated in the Police song "Don't Stand So Close to Me".

<i>The Vegetarians of Love</i> 1990 studio album by Bob Geldof

The Vegetarians of Love is the second solo studio album by Bob Geldof, released in July 1990. 'The Vegetarians of Love' was also the name of the band of musicians with whom Geldof recorded the album. It includes Pete Briquette from Geldof's previous band, The Boomtown Rats, who also co-wrote one track. Another notable co-writer was David A. Stewart of The Eurythmics. The album was produced by Rupert Hine, who also played on it.

<i>Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits</i> 2013 greatest hits album by The Boomtown Rats

Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits is the fifth greatest hits album by Irish band The Boomtown Rats. It was released by Virgin EMI on 9 September 2013. The album was announced in June 2013 along with news of the band's UK and Ireland tour. Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits is the first album to be released since The Boomtown Rats reunited and the band's first greatest hits album since 2003's The Best of The Boomtown Rats. The album contains fourteen of the group's singles, as well as two new tracks, "The Boomtown Rats" and "Back To Boomtown". The digital version of the album features two additional songs. Following its release, Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits debuted at number thirty-five on the Irish Albums Chart.


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  13. "Bob Geldof blasts Brentwood Festival fans for wearing Primark clothes". The Daily Telegraph . 21 July 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2017.