Rose Tattoo

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Rose Tattoo
OriginSydney, NSW
GenresHard rock
Years active1976 – 1986, 1993, 1999 - present
LabelsAlberts, Mushroom, Steamhammer, Armageddon
Associated actsThe Party Boys, Buffalo, Buster Brown, X, Saracen, Judge Mercy, Illustrated Men, Jimmy Barnes, Heaven, Doomfoxx, Noiseworks, Coloured Balls, Stand Alone, Taman Shud, Head Inc
MembersAngry Anderson, Paul Demarco, Geordie Leach, Dai Pritchard, Rob Riley
Past membersSteve Balbi, Robert Bowron, Andy Cichon, Mick Cocks, Tim Gaze, Scott Johnson, Greg Jordan, Steve King, Tony Lake, Lobby Lloyd, Ian Rilen, Dallas "Digger" Royal, Michael Vandersluys, Pete Wells

Band Members

  • Current Line-Up
    • Angry Anderson (vocals)
    • Paul Demarco (drums)
    • Geordie Leach (bass)
    • Dai Pritchard (guitar)
    • Rob Riley (guitar)
  • Former Members
    • Steve King (bass) (2000 - 2007)
    • Mick Cocks (guitar) (1976 - 1983, 1999, 2003 - 2009) d. 22/12/09
    • Pete Wells (guitar) (1976 - 1983, 1992 - 2005) d. 27/3/06
    • Andy Cichon (bass) (1985 - 1986)
    • Tim Gaze (guitar) (1985 - 1986)
    • Steve Balbi (bass) (1984 - 1985)
    • Scott Johnson (drums) (1983 - 1986)
    • Greg Jordan (guitar) (1983 - 1985)
    • John Meyer (guitar) (1983 - 1985)
    • Robert Bowron (drums) (1983)
    • Dallas Royal (drums) (1976 - 1983) d. 1991
    • Lobby Loyde (bass) (1979) d. 21/4/07
    • Ian Rilen (bass) (1976, 1999) d. 30/10/06
    • Tony Lake (vocals) (1976)
    • Michael Vandersluys (drums) (1976)



Sydney, NSW, 1976

Band Information

Rose Tattoo is undoubtedly one of the most legendary bands Australia has ever produced. They played their first gig on New Year's Eve 1976 and in no time had established a (perhaps unfair) reputation as one of the baddest bands in the land.

The group was formed by slide guitarist Peter Wells after leaving Buffalo, for whom he had been the bass player. Bass player Ian Rilen came from Band of Light and had also been in Blackfeather and Tully. Angry Anderson and drummer Dallas Royal were from Buster Brown, a hard-rocking boogie band who had played at Sunbury and once featured AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd. The pair joined as replacements for original members Tony Lake (from Madder Lake) and Michael Vandersluys. The line-up was completed by rhythm guitarist Mick Cocks. Rilen left the group in 1977, his only recording with Rose Tattoo being their first single, "Bad Boy for Love". He was replaced by Geordie Leach, also from Buster Brown, and Rilen went on to form X and a string of other underground blues and rock bands, including Helter Paye and Ian Rilen and the Love Addicts, until his death in 2006.

Rose Tattoo attracted the attention of AC/DC, who recommended them to Albert Productions and their debut self-titled album appeared in 1978. Despite a string of singles and constant live work, Rose Tattoo was unable to find major success in Australia but gained cult followings in North America and the UK, leading to tours there and eventually a performance at the Reading Festival. During this early period, Cocks was removed from the line-up and Lobby Loyde of the notorious “sharpie” band Coloured Balls joined in place of Leach; a second album called Scarred was recorded but Alberts hated it and it was never released. Loyde left and Cocks and Leach returned and Rose Tattoo toured the UK and Europe solidly.

In 1981 Cocks left the band again and joined Heaven for a short time. He was replaced by Rob Riley. Rose Tattoo toured the US in 1982, supporting ZZ Top and Aerosmith and while it was not a particularly successful tour for them, they were exposed to members of the fledgling sleaze scene like Mötley Crüe and Hollywood Rose, who would play important roles in Rose Tattoo's later career. On returning to Australia, Wells, Riley and Royal all left Rose Tattoo. Guitarists Greg Jordan and John Meyer (from Perth progressive metal band Saracen) and drummer Scott Johnston were recruited for the Southern Stars album, after which Leach departed. He teamed up with Riley, Wells and Royal in a band called Illustrated Men, which played sporadically around Sydney for a couple of years in the mid-80s.

Anderson joined the cast of the film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, following which Rose Tattoo released a version of "Born to be Wild" which was a minor hit. The line-up on that track was Anderson, Meyer and Johnston with Tim Gaze on slide guitar and Judge Mercy bassist Andy Cichon. Meyer then rejoind Saracen and a four-piece Rose Tattoo was responsible for Beats From a Single Drum that was originally meant to be Anderson's debut solo album but released under the band name due to contractual obligations. However, after the track "Suddenly" became a No. 1 hit after being used as a love theme on the TV drama Neighbours, the album was then repackaged as an Angry Anderson solo effort in 1988. During this period, Anderson had also toured as a member of The Party Boys in 1986.

For the next few years, Anderson embarked on a solo musical career, issuing the album Blood From Stone that spawned the hit single "Bound For Glory." He also continued his acting and charity work. In 1993 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his work as a youth advocate. The same year, Rose Tattoo reformed to tour with Guns N' Roses and Skid Row. Guns N' Roses had previously recorded a version of "Nice Boys Don't Play Rock N Roll" and specifically asked for Rose Tattoo to support them. The line-up of Anderson, Wells, Cocks and Leach regrouped with Wells' drummer Paul Demarco replacing Royal, who had died after a long battle with cancer in 1991. After this tour, Rose Tattoo disbanded once again.

In 1999, the band reformed once again, playing an east coast tour with the line-up of Anderson, Wells, Cocks, Demarco and Rilen, the first time he had played with Rose Tattoo since a one-off appearance in 1980. In 2000 Rose Tattoo was active again with Steve King (Tough Luxury) on bass and Riley in place of Cocks, touring Europe and taking part in the annual Wacken Festival in Germany. This tour was later issued as the live album 25 to Life. In November 2000 the band was to tour Australia with Mötley Crüe, but the tour was canned.

Rose Tattoo returned to Europe for further shows in 2001 and in 2002 recorded Pain, their first full album of new material in 16 years.

In 2005 Wells was forced to stand down from touring commitments as he endured treatment for prostate cancer and his place was taken in the band by Mick Cocks, who was also performing and touring in Doomfoxx. A benefit show for Wells was put together in mid-2005 and the band, with Dai Pritchard in Wells' role, began work on a new album. Peter Wells finally passed away from the disease on March 27, 2006.

Rose Tattoo was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame on August 17, 2006. Not long afterwards, on October 30, Ian Rilen died from bladder cancer. Lobby Loyde died of lung cancer on April 21, 2007. Geordie Leach re-joined the band in 2007, displacing Steve King. During May, Rose Tattoo again toured Australia with Guns N Roses and with Motörhead in October. In an interview with the online magazine Unbelievably Bad, Anderson said that the band would finish after one final album.

Mick Cocks was diagnosed with liver cancer during 2009; a benefit show was held for him in Sydney on July 24 featuring performances by members of Cold Chisel, You Am I, The Screaming Jets, Radiators, Choirboys, Heaven, AC/DC, Buffalo and more. He died on December 22, 2009. Rob Riley rejoined Rose Tattoo after Cocks' death; he too is now battling cancer. Since 2011 the band has appeared live sporadically, utlising guitarists like Randal Waller and The Art's Ronnie Simmons when necessary. In April 2014, Paul Demarco was arrested in connection with an illegal firearms ring operating in NSW.



1978 Rose Tattoo Alberts
1981 Assault and Battery Alberts
1982 Scarred for Life Alberts
1984 Southern Stars Alberts
1986 Beats From a Single Drum Mushroom
1986 A Decade of Rock Alberts
1992 Nice Boys Don't Play Rock N Roll Alberts
2000 25 to Life Steamhammer
2002 Pain Steamhammer
2007 Blood Brothers Armageddon


2006 Black Eyed Bruiser Armageddon