August 8, 1948 – August 16, 2014
Billy Rath is perhaps best remembered as the second bassist for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. The band formed in 1975, and Rath came on board in 1976 to replace Richard Hell who left to form the Voidoids. Hitting Europe just as punk rock was taking hold, the Heartbreakers immediately fell into the scene and were quickly invited to tour with the Sex Pistols on their doomed Anarchy in the UK tour. The band soon recorded their first and only album, L.A.M.F (Like A Mother Fucker), to mostly mixed reviews – although critics liked the band and the songs, they didn’t care much for the album’s production. The Heartbreaker’s label soon went out of business, and the band’s dissolved in late 1977. They did reform for occasional gigs in New York City during the late ’70s and early ’80s, but Rath left for good in 1985. Over the next two decades or so, Rath stayed away from music business. He studied Psychology and Theology, and eventually worked as a counselor addicts. In 2010, he resurfaced at a Max’s Kansas City reunion which lead to the formation of his own band, Billy Rath’s Street Pirates. Rath continued to perform live to adoring crowds,even touring the UK during the final years of his life. Billy Rath died at the age of 66 on August 16, 2014. Cause of death was not immediately released.
Thanks to David Plastik of eRockPhotos for the assist.
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