Billy Rath, the bassist for the 1970's punk band Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, has died after a lengthy illness. Hew was 66.
The Heartbreakers (different from Tom Petty's band), were formed in 1975 when Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan left the New York Dolls and Richard Hell quit Television. The next year, Rath replaced Hell and the band started to make a name for itself in the London Punk scene.
The band signed with Track records where they released their one album, L.A.M.F., but the quality wasn't good and the band started a great deal of infighting which led to their breakup. They reformed in 1979 to play farewell shows at New York's Max's Kansas City, leading to a live album, followed by further shows at New York Clubs.
Rath left the band in 1985 and, after going through rehab, went back to school to get a degree in psychology and an advanced degree in theology. He put his schooling and life experience to work as a counselor for those with drug and alcohol problems. He returned to music in 2010, forming The Street Pirates who played a number of shows in New York. Later, Rath moved to Massachusetts where he stayed active in the local music scene.
Rath's passing leaves Walter Lure as the last surviving member of the Heartbreakers.