Friday, February 20, 2009

Rose Tattoos

Rose Tattoo is an Australian hard rock band, led by Angry Anderson. Their sound is mixed with blues rock influences. Among their best known songs are "We Can't Be Beaten", "Scarred for Life", "Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw" and "Bad Boy for Love". Their first four albums were produced by Harry Vanda and George Young who also worked with AC/DC.

Guns N' Roses, L.A. Guns, Keel, and Nashville Pussy have all covered Rose Tattoo songs.


Rose Tattoo was formed in Sydney in 1976 by slide guitarist Peter Wells, who had just departed the bassist role in Buffalo. Ian Rilen from Band of Light joined on bass. Rilen had apparently taught himself to play bass while in prison and thus gave Wells' band the street-cred he was looking for[1]. Rhythm guitarist Mick Cocks, singer Tony Lake and drummer Michael Vandersluys completed the line-up however the last two only remained for a few rehearsals and were soon replaced by former Buster Brown members Angry Anderson and Dallas "Digger" Royal. Like Buffalo, Buster Brown had enjoyed a level of notoriety, playing at the Sunbury Festival in 1974 and at one point had featured AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd[2]. Rose Tattoo made their public debut on New Year's Eve at the rock club Chequers that several years earlier had launched the career of AC/DC.

Chiefly inspired by The Rolling Stones and the Faces, Rose Tattoo's hard-rocking sound quickly earned a devoted following in the Sydney area. Among the band's fans were the members of AC/DC, who recommended them to Albert Productions; the band's debut single "Bad Boy for Love" was written by Rilen, who left the lineup prior to the record's release.

Anderson's onetime Buster Brown bassist Geordie Leach was recruited for Rose Tattoo's self-titled debut LP; after nearly three years of extensive touring, during which time Leach temporarily left the band to be replaced by Lobby Lloyde, they issued the follow-up, Assault and Battery, in 1981. During Lloyde's brief tenure with the band, they recorded a song, "Legalise Realise" that was released as a single in 1980, backed with a track by country singer Colin Paterson to publicise a campaign to legalise marihuana.

Rose Tattoo toured Europe in 1981 and featured at the Reading Festival, and were hailed as the loudest band to play London's Marquee Club since Led Zeppelin.[citation needed] Returning to Australia, the band began work on their third album; with new guitarist Robin Riley replacing Cocks who went on to join Heaven, they issued Scarred for Life in 1982, subsequently touring the US in support of Aerosmith and ZZ Top. The band's US visit was not a major success but proved to be extremely influential on the underground sleaze metal scene in Los Angeles, with bands such as Guns N' Roses later citing Rose Tattoo as favourites.[citation needed] That group went on to record a version of "Nice Boys" and issue it on the G N' R Lies album.

After the US tour, Wells, Royal and Riley all left the group, with the remaining duo of Anderson and Leach recruiting guitarists Greg Jordan and John Meyer (from Perth progressive metal band Saracen) along with drummer Scott Johnston to record 1984's Southern Stars. Leach then exited to join Wells, Royal and Riley in the short-lived Illustrated Men. Anderson also took time out to play the character 'Ironbar' Bassey in the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. That year Rose Tattoo, as Anderson, Johnston, Meyer, Andy Cichon (bass) and Tim Gaze (slide guitar), released a version of Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild", their first release for Mushroom Records. Meyer left and Rose Tattoo recorded 1986's Beats From a Single Drum as a four piece.

Anderson finally mounted a solo career soon after, as did Wells. After a long battle with cancer, Royal died in 1991. In 1992, Anderson was approached by Guns N' Roses to reform Rose Tattoo in order to support them on an Australian tour. Anderson, Wells, Cocks, Leach and new drummer Paul DeMarco from Wells' solo band reunited for the 1993 tour. The reunion proved brief, however, and each then member returned to his solo endeavours.

Around this time, ex-members of Rose Tattoo formed a short lived band with ex Candy Harlots vocalist Aiz Lynch. This band had numerous rehearsals, but only recorded one demo before disbanding.

The same lineup, with original bassist Ian Rilen replacing Leach, reformed yet again in 1998 for the "All Hell Breaks Loose!!" tour, however Rilen remained with the band only for the duration of this tour and by the following year, Leach had returned to the fold once more, although his place was taken by Steve King in 2000. Since that time Rose Tattoo has toured regularly around Australia and throughout Germany and France. In 2000, the band appeared at the Wacken Open Air festival as part of their European tour. These shows formed the basis of the 25 to Life live album. 2002 saw the release of Pain, the band's first studio album in 16 years.

Peter Wells died after a four-year-battle from prostate cancer on March 27, 2006. In August that year, the band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Founding member Ian Rilen died on October 30, 2006 after a battle with bladder cancer. One of Rilen's last public appearances was at Rose Tattoo's ARIA Hall of Fame induction.

In October 2006, a number of Rose Tattoo songs were voted upon and ranked in the Triple M Essential 2006 Countdown of songs, including "Bad Boy for Love" (voted #1060 out of 2006) and "We Can't Be Beaten" (voted #397 out of 2006).

In the same month, Rose Tattoo were also one of 55 acts voted and played in Triple J's Impossible Music Festival of 2006, with their live recording of a gig performed on New Year's Day 1980 at Mount Druitt, New South Wales being selected out of over 1000 Live at the Wireless recordings produced over the radio station's 31-year history.

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