Billy Rath’s Street Pirates Bio

Billy Rath disappeared from the music scene after leaving Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers in the mid-1980s. After a successful period of rehab, Rath then went on to study for a degree in psychology and a postgraduate qualification in theology. He also embraced religion and had worked as a counselor for people with drug and alcohol problems.

Joey Kelly & Billy Rath reunited at the first Max’s Kansas City reunion in NYC back in 2010. After the reunion Joey & Billy stayed in close contact on a regular basis, jamming and discussing Billy’s new band vision called “The Street Pirates.”

Joey Kelly & Johnny Rao (David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain & Helen Schneider) were recording original demos for a totally different project when Joey asked Johnny if he was interested in joining The Street Pirates, Johnny said yes.

That left finding a drummer suited for The Street Pirates, that’s when Billy requested Sesu Coleman from The Magic Tramps & Alan Vega for the gig; however Sesu was teaching percussion at the University of Chicago at the time and could make immediate rehearsals in New York City. Sesu and Joey stayed in touch as the project progressed but Billy was looking to move quickly. Joey then reached out to drummer friend Bill Tello from the Hudson Dusters. Bill agreed to give it a go and so rehearsals began.

Shortly thereafter Bill Tello decided The Street Pirates gig was not for him so he bowed out and left the project. Joey then called Sesu and asked him again if he would like to be part of the band. This time Sesu said yes and arrangements were made. Sesu would come to New York City and join The Street Pirates for rehearsals, Billy ran into some problems making it impossible to continue rehearsals at the time so Sesu went back to Chicago and the project seemed to be in trouble. A few weeks later Joey received a call from Rath asking if he & Johnny would come on tour with him in Europe and the States. Joey & Johnny decided to do some gigs with Billy in the northeast first before committing to the European shows. Johnny asked drummer Frank Fradella Jr. to sit in and Frank agreed. Joy Ryder was also added to the shows as well.

The Original Street Pirates (Joey, Billy, Johnny, Joy & Frank) did a few gigs together in the northeast but it was at this time that Billy decided to move back to Massachusetts. Joey & Johnny decided not to continue with the band now that Billy was residing in Massachusetts and since there was no firm budget in place. It was at that time Billy formed a totally different Street Pirates band. He died August 16th, 2014 at age 66.