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.
The 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
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
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
When Leach left too in
November 1984, Angry Anderson was Rose Tattoo's sole survivor. During
1984/1985 everyone but Angry ( IanRilen, 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 IronbarBassey in the 'Mad Max' movies. He'd also become
a TV personality, accepting the Ray Martin Show invitation to
appear in segments about "youth" issues.
Angry'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
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, B�hseOnkelz, 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.
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
aged 58, Dai Pritchard became his permanent replacement.
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
time the album was released in February 2007 Rose Tattoo had lost
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.
line-up of the band consists of Angry Anderson (vocals), Mick Cocks (Guitar),
Steve King (Bass), Paul De Marco (Drums) and newcomer Dai Pritchard
Angry Anderson has announced
his intentions to retire the band after one more album.