Thanks to the help of Trevor Dare, I was able to snag an
interview with Rose Tattoo guitarist Rockin' Rob Riley. He
was kind enough to answer my questions by snail mail...and what
a set of answers it is! Enjoy...
1) What bands were you in before Rose Tattoo?
I started playin' in bands in Melbourne-Victoria when I was 12 years old,
1968! My first professional offering was a band called "Lois Lane",
1974-75. Following this was a fairly well known group called "Redhouse",
who came from Geelong-Victoria (Geelong is about 80 kms - 50 miles from
Melbourne to the south). They had an album out at the time called 'One More
Squeeze', and a single called 'I Like Dancin'.
John Dallimore, the lead guitarist, asked me to join as he loved my guitar
work (so he says!). Anyway, we used to play a gig called the Croxton Park
Hotel (Rock at the Croc). This is where I was first made aware of 'Rose
Tattoo'. They were our opening act on Wednesday nights. I eventually left
"Redhouse" and formed my own power trio called "Hurricane".
John Dallimore approached me 12 months later to form a new band to move
to Sydney - NSW (New South Wales) to record. This I did!! The band was
called "Dallimore". We worked very hard for about 2 1/2 - 3 years. But
no recording was released except, a single called 'We Are The Kids'.
Anyway, through these Sydney years I got really friendly with the late
great Dallas "Digger" Royal, and the rest of the band, as they had
moved up from Melbourne to Sydney as well. Angry and Peter (not so
much Peter) used to hassle the fuckin' shit outta me to join the band.
The reason given was the fact I had tattoos (tattoos in those days were
really rare for muso's to have). I repeatedly told 'em to fuck off
'cause I thought they were shithouse!! But I loved to party with 'em.
2) What Rose Tattoo songs did you play? AC/DC songs? Angels songs?
Mate, I never played any songs from any of those artists as I was busy
playin' my own!!!
3) Were you a big fan of Rose Tattoo before becoming a member of the band?
DEFINITELY FUCKIN' NOT MATE!!!
4) Describe the Oz hard rock pub circuit during the late 70's and early 80's. Was it
an exciting time to be in a band then?
This was without a doubt the greatest time period for "AUSSIE" music
and musicians. Unbounded creativity was the order, we all supported each
other in all musical endeavors, we all got on with each other! It was, I
feel, NOT a competitive issue. We all loved doin' what we were doin'! I
really miss those days!! An excitin' time indeed!!
5) How did you end up becoming a member of 'Rose Tattoo'?
Right, 'ere we go!
Rose Tattoo had left "OZ" to go to England. They had been there about
nine months with enormous success. Digger had rung a couple of times to
hassle me to come over and join the band. I said "Fuck off Dig, you know
what I think of the band." He said "Man, you don't know how big the band
is over 'ere". Anyway, I flatly denied the invitation, regardless of the
fact that the band was havin' trouble with Mick Cox. It was none of my
business then and I don't feel at liberty to discuss those problems at
that time, because I have no doubt some cunt would get upset.
Anyway, I was playin' a gig at the "Caringbah Inn" one night with my power
trio - "THE BEAST" (Mark Evans - AC/DC on bass, John Lalor - Dallimore
on drums) when Sam Rigghi, one third of Rose Tattoo's management, turned up.
He said, "Rob, the boys want you to go over to London and join 'em". I
said, "No fuckin' way mate! I don't like 'em! Not my kinda music mate!
Get fucked!". Sam said, "The boys really want you t'do it, and I'm here
to make sure you do". I said, "So what are you actually sayin' here Sam,
I have no choice?". He said, "That's right Rob!". I said, "What if I
refuse?". He said, "I will make sure you never work in this country again!"
I said, "You cunt! You'd do that to me?". He said, "Yeah, cause thats what
the boys want, they want you in the band". My guys in my band just cracked
the shits with me 'cause they were standin' behind Sam and heard the whole
thing. Anyway, I went home and discussed the matter with my girlfriend.
She said, "Well look at it this way, you've never been overseas, and if it
fucks up, you can always come home and put it down to experience".
I left two weeks later for London.
6) Did you ever consider NOT joining the Tatts after the offer was made?
Yes! I think question 5 answers that.
7) What was your first gig as Tatts guitarist? Was it memorable?
My first gig was at the "Marquis Club" in Soho-London. Memorable it most
certainly was!! I think I had 2, maybe 4 days to rehearse songs I had
never heard before. I was FUCKIN' SHITTIN'! The Marquis is, or was probably
one of the most famous of all gigs in this known dimension. Mate, I had
a shit in the same shithouse as Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend. "Fuckin'
unbelievable", but true!! Yes!!
8) Why, do you think, the Tatts were considered "rock 'n' roll
I think because of the way the band (1)looked (2)the songs (3)acted
(4)sounded. We looked like hell, but a nicer bunch a'guys you'll never
9) Did you do much songwriting before joining the Tatts?
I have always written and performed my own songs. Always!!
10) What was it like songwriting with Angry and Pete and Digger and Geordie?
SLOW! FAST! TEDIOUS! FUN! I enjoyed it all. Moments, that is.
11) How would you describe your relationships with Angry Anderson during
your tenure as a member of Rose Tattoo.
Okay at the start, but fucked at the end. But Angry IS Angry.
12) What was you most memorable gig as a member of Rose Tattoo.
THE MARQUIS CLUB!
13) Was there a favorite venue to play, and why?
I don't know. We did a lot of giggin'. Hard question, too many brain
14) In your opinion, what factors made Australia such a hotbed of hard
rock in the late 70's (Tatts, AC/DC and Angels come to mind).
Again, I don't really know. I'd presume the times - that we all lived
15) Do you have a favorite Tatts song? Favorite album?
The first album I think is the most definitive Rose Tattoo, the third
'cause I played and wrote all four singles. (I love it! Yessir! Fuggin'
Bewdy!). Favorite songs - Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw, Nice Boys, One Of The Boys,
Revenge, Rock 'n' Roll Is King; Fuck, there's a few rippas on Assault &
Battery too. Matter of fact it was all great!!
16) Can you share any memorable "stories from the road" during your Tatts
I'd fuggin' love to! Absolutely love to! But some cunt would get pissed
off if I told what I know. Safe t'say, we had a fuggin' ball mate. I'll
tell y'all about it one day. Maybe we should all write a book!!
17) Why did you and Pete and Digger leave the Tatts after 'Scarred For Life'?
T'was in America the shit hit the fan. We shouldn't have been there in the
first place, in my opinion. But management and record company thought
different. I bitched and screamed about it, but got told "Get Fucked!
Shuddup!! What the fuck do you know. You're the new boy!!". Pete felt the
whole thing had been sold out, and was very disillusioned with management
and record company. Rose Tattoo was Peter's concept!! To my knowledge
anyway. I roomed with Peter through America and we discussed many things.
We became very close friends in those days. When Pete said he was leavin'
the band, I said "Well if the man who created the concept is leavin', I'm
out to!". Digger said, "Well if you cunts are leavin', I'm leavin' to.
That was it!!
18) After leaving the Tatts you spent some time in 'The Party Boys'. How
did you end up joining them? Was it an enjoyable time?
Paul Christie, bass player for 'Mondo Rock', invited me to join when
Harvey James (Sherbert) couldn't do the tour. I ended up in the band
for two and a bit years. Yes, I really enjoyed 'The Party Boys'. It
was a very fine band. LOVED IT!! Great money too.
19) What did you do after 'The Party Boys' and before the Angry tour in
Jim Barnes found me in Perth and asked me if I'd like to play for him. I
did ten months with Jim on his 'Workin' Class Man" tour. That was
fantastic!! He, Jim, was incredibly generous and giving. A truly excellent
performer, singer, and human being. It was my pleasure to work with him!!
20) How did you end up in Angry Anderson's touring band?
I hadn't spoken to Angry for probably ten years, when Robbie Williams -
another third of the Tatts management - rang. He said, "Angry wants to
talk t'you". I said, "Why?". He said, "I'll let him tell you". Angry
came to Adelaide - SA (where I live!!). We met and he said, "Let's bury
the hatchet", I said "Sweet". The Angry Anderson Band was a fuckin'
excellent band!! Fan-fuckin-tastic!! Tim Powles - drums, Jim Hilbun - bass,
sensational rhythm section!! I loved it. We toured and I don't really know
what happened after that. There was talk of a new Tatts, but, ah well.
21) From what I've heard, you guys were a tough act to follow. Do any
specific gigs stand out in your mind from that tour?
Yes, I imagine we were a tough act to follow. The band was enormously
powerful, gutsy. A pity the world did not see and hear it!!
22) What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of the late,
great, Dallas "Digger" Royal?
I loved the "Digger". He was a kind gentleman!! A truly beautiful human
being that the world needs more of. Very funny bloke!! Fuckin laugh!? We
used to get on the piss (alcohol) and have a ball! I miss him very
much. LOVE YA DIG!
23) What's the real story as to why you were not part of the Tatts reunion
tour a few years back?
OKAY!! This really, really fucks me off!! Just after the 'Angry' band
finished, or whenever the fuck, I can't quite remember, but I fuckin'
know, Angry and I talked a lot about reformin' the original Tatts. (The
one with me in it, that toured America). We talked for months and months.
I spoke with Pete and Gordo on the phone, planted the seed. Anyway, I
stipulated I didn't want to be involved with the old management. I said
we could do it ourselves for a while, find someone to book the tour, (I
mean how fuckin' hard could it be to book Rose Tattoo f'christs sakes) and
pick up some management further down the road. At this time I had been
invited to go to Germany to some gigs. The promoter over there asked if
I could get the Tatts back together for a tour. This was another reason
to tour the band. Europe had not seen the 'Scarred For Life' album.
Anyway, Pete had management, Angry had management, and all this disagreeing
started. Bullshit flyin' all over the shop. Then the old management got
involved. We were goin to tour with three guitarists (Mick Cox, Pete
Wells, Rob Riley). BUT, because Mick is mates with Sam Rigghi, for the
reason that I will get to, Angry told me that Sam wouldn't book the band
if I was in it. That's what was said over the phone. Sam is probably the
most powerful booker in Australia. Over the years, I have been in great
disagreement with these powerful people over the way the music industry is.
RULE NO. 1: Don't fuck with the PowerMoney types otherwise they'll fuck
y'big time. I did, so they did! At this point, refer to question five (5)
for some reason.
Of course, all this will be denied by anybody whose name will be mentioned,
(but I remember Michael Browning - AC/DC management being involved here as
well), but really, there was so much shit and lies, absolute bullshit spread
about yours truly that finally, I became discredited, accused of all sorts
and sundries. Kinda strange when all I wanted to do was get the band
together. Anyway, they've all got what they wanted from me. I'm sad about
the fact I didn't do that tour.
24) If offered a slot, would you take part in another Tatts reunion? Any
chance of that happening? Any chance of a new album if a reunion occurred?
Yes! I most certainly would. I'd fuckin' love it!! But I don't know if
it will. It would be a real pity if the world couldn't have the band. So
far as an album is concerned, that was the plan at the time. It should be
so. I hope so.
25) What are you doing with yourself now?
Not much mate!! I still play. albeit rarely. Still writing. I don't know
what else to do.
26) Can we look forward to any upcoming hard rock releases featuring Rob
YES!! I fuckin' 'ope so mate!!
27) What other records do you appear on besides 'Scarred For Life' and the
Party Boys stuff?
Early Matt Finish, Ted Mulry solo, various unsigned artists releases. The
big record companies won't sign you if you don't look like whoever these
days, and I think there must be an age limit. (Cunts).
28) What is your equipment setup?
Marshall, Fender Twin, Roland, Cube60.
Pedals - Boss - Master Switch, Digital Dimension, Digital Delay, Cry Baby
wah wah Piddle (Pedal).
29) What is the state of the "hard rock scene" in Australia?
FUCKED - NON EXISTENT!! Its fuckin' awful what has happened to this country.
There is so much talent here and yet the people in power, that control,
book, manage, etc. appear to have no foresight. Everyone seems preoccupied
with the making of huge amounts of money. Lets get on the bandwagon and
clean up. Sad mate!! We should nurture creativity, not garbage!! Not
everyone can make beautiful music. And just because you're drop dead
gorgeous doesn't mean you have any talent. FUCK, what's goin' on round
30) Any final comments?
Rose Tattoo (that period) was the finest and greatest point in my musical
career. I loved playin' in the band. Thanks for interest and the creation
of the web page. Rose Tattoo loves ya for it!! WHO KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE
COULD HOLD FOR SOME FAT OLD MEN.
Copyright (c) 1998 by Peter Gormley
© 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.