Not many may know who Billy Rath is. But that doesn’t make him any less a Rock and Roll persona who has contributed much to his profession. In this case, two professions. But more about that later.
Billy Rath was an important member of Johnny Thunders’ post-New York Dolls band known as Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. Their classic album was L.A.M.F., recorded back in the golden era of 1977, before punk music became a BIG thing. That album was the band’s only studio album, although there were many live sets.
Billy Rath replaced original bass player, Richard Hell, whose previous band was Television. But there were problems in direction, and so Richard Hell was no longer a member of the band. Billy Rath also assisted Johnny Thunders on his masterpiece solo effort, So Alone (1978). Eventually, as things became too chaotic, Rath retired to school, getting his Bachelors degree in Psychology, and then a Masters in Theology. He turned to helping people in counseling for drug and alcohol addictions, as well as serving as pastor for a few churches.
In 2010, he returned to gigging as Street Pirates, pushing through dates, and an attempt to produce a CD (which I’m not sure actually made it to fruition).
On August 16, after battling a long afflicted undisclosed illness, Billy Rath, at the age of 66, departed the earth’s pull for a better band.
Again, while too few of you may be aware of who Billy Rath is, rest assured that his contributions were heavy in more ways than one. We’ll miss you, old buddy!