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Rose Tattoo

Rose Tattoo came from the same strain of hard-core Australian music as AC/DC. When AC/DC left to be ambassadors for the style internationally, Rose tattoo arrived just in time to keep the fans satisfied at home.

Angry AndersonThe seeds for Australian heavy rock can be traced back to two important sources, Billy Thorpe's Seventies Aztecs and Sydney band Buffalo, who came from the Black Sabbath/Uriah Heep school, and were signed to the same label as those groups (Vertigo) in Australia. It was Buffalo bass player Peter Wells who in 1976 decided to form the band that became Rose Tattoo, decided on their style of boogie and blues music, and their street look, united by their tattooed bodies. Soon after the band was formed Ian Rilen of Band Of Light joined on bass to allow Peter to switch to slide guitar. The lineup fell into place when the original singer was replaced by Gary 'Angry' Anderson, from Melbourne's Buster Brown. Angry came from Billy Thorpe's audience, and his Buster Brown were AC/DC contemporaries. He was made for the job of Rose Tattoo singer.

The Tatts debuted New Years Eve in Sydney at Chequers. Like AC/DC they struggled in the beginning, had to earn audiences' respect before they were accepted. Bon Scott and Angus Young were amongst their earliest fans. They would occasionally join the group on stage, and it was Bon who recommended that the band be signed to their label, Alberts. In mid-1977 they also shared AC/DC's producers Vanda and Young to record their debut single, 'Bad Boy For Love'. By now a mate of Angry's Mick Cocks had replaced the original rhythm guitarist, and Buster Brown's Dallas 'Digger' Royal was now on drums. By the time the single was released Ian Rilen had left to form punk legends X, and for a while the band continued as a four-piece with Cocks moving to bass. Eventually the bass was taken over by another former Buster Brown member, Geordie Leach.

The release of their self-titled first album, again produced by Vanda and Young, was followed by a period of line-up instability, with Mick Cocks and Geordie Leach in and out of the band, to be replaced at various points by another former Buffalo, Mick Turner, and guitar legend Lobby Lloyde briefly playing bass.

In 1980 Rose Tattoo travelled to Los Angeles and recorded an album which has never been released. In April 1981, with the first album line-up back in tact, Rose Tattoo arrived in London for live performances. During their absence the second album, 'Assault And Battery' was released in Australia. Cocks left permanently soon after, and was replaced by Rob Riley for the band's third album, 'Scarred For Life'. Riley was a perfect fit for the Tatts, co-writing the album's four singles.

A stressful three-month tour of America supporting Aerosmith and ZZ Top accentuated differences within the band which saw Peter Wells, Dallas Royal and Rob Riley all leave in early 1983. In April Angry and Geordie Leach re-emerged with a new line-up. Everybody but those who actually saw the line-up perform live dismissed Rose Tattoo as finished. On stage however they were giving arguably the best shows of their career. They were playing both for the love of it and their survival, always a potent combination. 'Southern Cross', the fourth album, however was tame and limp by comparison.

When Leach left too in November 1984, Angry Anderson was Rose Tattoo's sole survivor. During 1984/1985 everyone but Angry ( Ian Rilen, Peter Wells, Mick Cocks, Geordie Leach and Dallas Royall) toured as the Illustrated Men. Meanwhile, a new version of Rose Tattoo played on, until Angry also "lost the vibe" and put the band on hold while he appeared in the film 'Bullamakanka' and took on the role of Ironbar Bassey in the 'Mad Max' movies. He'd also become a TV personality, accepting the midday Ray Martin Show invitation to appear in segments about "youth" issues.

Angry AndersonAngry's Rose Tattoo reputation was never far away though. An offer from an American company to record a solo album with American producer Kevin Beamish was too good to resist. It started out as a solo record, but ended up as Rose Tattoo's next album, 'Beats From A Single Drum', a polished affair that bore little resemblance to the Tatts records of old. The ballad (!) 'Suddenly' was released in Angry's name and was used in the wedding scene when "Charlene" (Kylie Minogue) married "Scott" (Jason Donovan) in 'Neighbours'. The song gave Angry a national Number One in Australia. In Europe the entire album was released in Angry's name.

For the first time Rose Tattoo officially broke up. Angry took a three year break before issuing his 1990 solo album 'Blood From A Stone', and its anthemic hit single 'Bound For Glory'.

For their quick two-concert visit to Australia in late January 1993, Guns N'Roses begged their heroes Rose Tattoo to reform. The Tatts had been one of their original inspirations. The classic line-up from the first two albums performed the Gunners gigs (apart from Dallas Royall who died in 1991 after years of struggle with heroin addiction and alcoholism) and the band took the chance to stay together for a successful pub tour of Australia. In July they played again together with Billy Thorpe in Brisbane at the former Boggo Road Goal. Then the Tatts were inactive again for several years.

In 1997 Angry Anderson toured with The Angels and Ross Wilson on the "Lounge Lizards" tour, playing acoustic versions of their best known songs. This experience is credited with reviving Angry's interest in music. Several phone calls were made to other ex-Tatts...and the result was a 1998 Rose Tattoo reunion tour with the Angels, dubbed 'All Hell Breaks Loose!!'. This time, apart from another new drummer, it was the original 'Bad Boy For Love' line-up, with Ian Rilen back on bass.

In early 1999 Rose Tattoo spent some time in the studio, producing some rough demos. This time it was one of Germany's top bands, Böhse Onkelz, who called and asked the Tatts to co-headline several summer festivals. Ian Rilen had moved on again so Geordie Leach stepped back in. The band warmed up with a two week run through Australia in late June. After those highly successful German gigs, the band went their separate ways again, and so far nothing more has happened about those demos. Watch this space.

Pete Wells was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 2002 and  temporarily replaced on stage by Billy Thorpe guitarist Dai Pritchard for the group s 2004 tour of Europe. Dai s was Pete Wells choice. Of all the guitarists the band was looking at he thought that Pritchard would be the one that could both fill in as well as contributing something, and not just be a Pete Wells clone. When Pete Wells died on March 27, 2006, aged 58, Dai Pritchard became his permanent replacement.

 

Rejuvenated by  Pain  album Rose Tattoo had been planning another album, with Pete Wells, Dai Pritchard and original member Mick Cocks returning to the band for a three guitar attack. Angry Anderson thought it was time to bring Rose Tattoo full circle, back to the band s original intent, and was keen to write songs with original songwriting partner Cocks again.  Originally planning to record what became Blood Brothers  in March Pete Wells  illness and death delayed sessions with veteran producer Mark Opitz until July. He s remembered on Blood Brothers  with the inclusion of Black-Eyed Bruiser . His spirit is very much part of the album. Before he died Pete Wells told Angry Anderson he wanted Rose Tattoo to continue.

 

By the time the album was released in February 2007 Rose Tattoo had lost another  members of its alumni to cancer, bass player Ian Riley, on October 30, 2006. Mentor and brief member Lobby Loyde died on April 21, 2007. Rose Tattoo had played at benefits for both musicians.

The current line-up of the band consists of Angry Anderson (vocals), Mick Cocks (Guitar), Steve King (Bass), Paul De Marco (Drums) and newcomer Dai Pritchard (Guitar).

Angry Anderson has announced his intentions to retire the band after one more album.

 

Ed.Nimmervoll

 

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Buffalo
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