Biography - June 1998
Over the last few years the sentiment of Rose Tattoo's
classic, Nice Boys has proven to be disturbingly prophetic.
There's no real rebel stance, no attitude or aptitude
for that matter. There's nothing tribal, nothing
brotherly or sisterly in terms of group cohesion. Everyone
just looks at their feet and moans and wouldn't know Chuck
Berry from Frank Zappa.
But the remedy is at hand with the return of Rose Tattoo,
the loudest, meanest most lock up your entire extended
family rock n' roll band to ever stalk this earth. And the
reunited Tatts are hitting the road for a joint national tour
with The Angels in July.
But this is not just any lineup of the Tatts, we're talking
the original band with Angry Anderson, Peter Wells, Mick Cocks
and for the first time in two decades Ian Rilen who left in
1977 to join what was to become X. Rilen last played with
the Tatts on the closing night of Sydney's hallowed Bondi
Lifesaver in 1980 but doesn't remember a thing about it. The
truly missed piece will be original drummer, Dallas "Digger"
Royal who passed away in 1989. Big Paul DeMarco is admirably
handling the swing in his absence.
"There's only ever really been three great hard rock n' roll
bands that this country has ever produced." says Angry Anderson.
"There's been lots of great rock bands but the top of the heap
are AC/DC, The Angels and Tattoo and you'll never see the three
of them together on the same bill. The next best thing is to see
two of them on a bill together. That makes this tour a really
historic event. It hasn't happened since the early eighties and
who knows if it'll ever happen again? And this is virtually the
original Rosie Tatts' brotherhood."
"I think the world needs a band like Rose Tattoo again in a very
real physical sense and in a romantic sense. We never walked away
from or were ever embarrassed by or uncomfortable with championing
the underdog. You've just got to read our lyrics and not only what
they say but what they mean to realise that and those sentiments
have as much flesh, blood and heart today as they ever did. And so
does the band itself. We got together recently for a photo shoot for
his tour and it was scary. The bond and the affection was clearly still
there after nearly twenty years."
Rose Tattoo was a matter of destiny from the outset. In 1976 Peter
Wells, former bassist with Sydney's infamous Buffalo who by that
point was playing slide guitar was looking around for players for
an aggressive new street punk band he was putting together. Each
member had to be tattooed, have their hair cropped and dress for
unity. Ian Rilen from Band Of Light was Wells' first recruit.
In Melbourne a singer by the name of Angry Anderson who at times
sounded like a young Rod Stewart was looking to get his old band,
the notorious Buster Brown back together or at least recapture some
sense of it. He met up with Wells and the chemistry was instantaneous.
Mick Cocks, a Melbourne cohort of Angry's joined on rhythm guitar soon
after. Dallas "Digger" Royal, another buddy of Angry's took the drumming
With a sound that proudly owed much to the blues, The Stones and The
Faces, the Tatts played their first gig on New Year's Eve 1976 at Chequers,
the same site AC/DC debuted on a few years earlier.
The band's alien look coupled with the ferocity of their sound and brain
busting volume inspired drop dead horror in many and plenty of attention
from the boys in blue who had never seen anything like the Tatts on any
beat, anytime, anywhere. But that reaction was never the main game. Where
the Tatts really struck an artery was in the souls of the real rock n' roll
crowd, the punters who were also tired of the crap on the radio and having
to sit through a disco for hours to hear just one song that spoke to their
gut. These folks instinctually understood the Tatts and didn't require
anything to be explained to them. The outlaws had their band. Finally.
The Tatts were signed up by Albert Productions, the home of Australian
hard rock n' roll who also had AC/DC and The Angels on their books. On top
of that the organisation's house producers were the world famous legendary
duo Harry Vanda and George Young of Easybeats' fame.
Tattoo's first single, Ian Rilen's Bad Boy For Love was an instant radio
hit though Rilen departed before it was released. It was followed by
the Tatt's debut self titled album in 1978 which featured Anderson associate
from his Buster Brown days, Geordie Leech on bass. The next few years were
spent tirelessly touring the country driving publicans crazy with their
decibel hunger and fans nuts with their no bullshit, death before dishonour
Their second album, Assault and Battery came in 1981 at which time the Tatts
went on a search and destroy mission across Europe. They were rightly hailed
as the new metal gurus and everyone from ZZ Top to Iron Maiden came to check
out their live savagery and to steal a line from The Who's Pete Townshend
"get their ears raped". The band were front page material in the highly
influential English music weekly circuit and critics were raving about the
first album which was retitled Rock n' Roll Outlaws and the Assault and
Battery effort. They even had the distinction of being the loudest band
since Led Zeppelin to play London's famed Marquee Club. Mick Cocks left
at this point and was replaced by former Dallimore guitar beast, 'Rockin'
Robin Riley. Tattoo were now like some rock n' roll samurai. Angry regularly
passed out on stage and bloodied himself from the emotion of it all. The
third album, 1982's Scarred For Life said it all.
The next stage of their world domination (or should that be world
deafenation) was America where they toured extensively with Aerosmith
and ZZ Top. One show in Indiana was caught by a mesmerised kid called
William Bailey who later went by the name of Axl Rose. Wells called
time and left in 1983 as did Royal.
A decade later following an approach from arch fans, Guns n' Roses who had
recorded the Tatts' Nice Boys the band reunited with Paul Demarco on drums
and opened for the Gunners on their 1993 Australian tour. The night before
they played Calder Park in Melbourne Slash and Duff from Gunners joined the
Tatts on stage at the Palace. It was a meeting of two rock n' roll
generations but it was the Gunners who were awestruck. Now the Tatts are
spreading their unique rock n' roll fever and fervour again.
"It'll be good to get really rowdy with some sex, drugs and other people's
amps to blow up" grins Tatt's founder, Peter Wells. "It'll be ugly and loud.
Some of us more than others."
Ray Martin and charity challenges? Nah, forget it. Angry curls a lip and
exposes what were once literally chiselled teeth.
"It's like waking up a dragon" he smiles knowingly. "Everybody knows that
dragons always have fire."
And all hell will break loose. Fact.
© 1997-2007 by Peter Gormley
"REMEDY - The Rose Tattoo Home Page" and its contents may not be reproduced, uploaded,
posted, transmitted or distributed in any form, or by any means, without prior
written consent of Peter Gormley.