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HOME arrow BIO arrow 1982
1982

"Imagine if the Dirty Dozen or The Wild bunch ever traded in their artillery for guitars and you'll have some idea of the rock dream we're being hauled into. Swaggeringuntamed rock'n'roll desperadoes with hearts of gold, brawling barbarians putting the frighteners on rock's Artypretenders but never hurting nobodywho don't deserve it."
Garry Bushell - Sounds (UK)

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Theirs was indeed a baptism by fire. Assaulting the battered stage of Sydney's celebrated Bondi Lifesaver on December 31st 1976, ROSE TATTOO made their debut. New Years Eve. By the time they'd crashed back-stage, they'd been hailed as the true contenders for the hard rock crown.Enough of the pretenders. It was time for a rock 'n' roll band with all the swing of a fence paling in a street fight to conquer the boards. And from that first hot 'n' sweaty summers night, this menacing outfit, this band of rock 'n' roll outlaws, this feared and revered specter of the ROSE TATTOO was in control. It had to happen, of course, when some of the heaviest elements Oz rock has ever celebrated banded together.

On vocals (or "throat" as the credits go): Angry Anderson. The street-fightin' product of Melbourne's working class gang wars, the five foot two inch tattooed lizard had fronted BUSTER BROWN, one of the rawest, most fearsome rock 'n' roll bands the skins and the sharpies had ever paid homage to.

On slide guitar: Pete Wells.....or ...H.G. as he's reverently referred to. A six foot plus man-mountain of tattooed tapestries. An accomplished tattooist and a guitarist of ill-repute having come through the embattled ranks of BUFFALO - one of the dirtiest heavy metal bands Australia ever produced.

On drums: Dallas 'Digger' Royall - a former Army chopper pilot who's spent the past fifteen years thrashing the kit & the bottle. A drummer with power, precision and accuracy of a commando - even after a 32 hour binge - innocents tend to avoid him. The eyes say it all.

Bass: Geordie Leach. A killer bassist who works hand in fist with 'Digger'. He too was the product of Melbourne's infamous BUSTER BROWN.

Guitar: Rob Riley - a blues based guitarist who'd concreted his reputation with Sydney heavy metal merchants DALLIMORE in the late seventies.

Catch any members of ROSE TATTOO - and recognition will be immediate. Sure, they've probably spent as much time behind bars as they have under them, but that ain't necessarily the unifying factor. When it all comes down what really counts is the attitude - and the tatts. The indelibly imprinted ring on the middle finger of their hands, the Rose Tattoo : Rock'n'Roll tatt on their arms. The ultimate (and ever-lasting) symbol of true identification with a bunch of people you love and respect. As Angry explains it, it all comes down to Ying and Yang - the masculine violence of the tattoo coupled with the feminine beauty of the rose. And that respect........ it don't come easy.

From the first performance during the dying moments of '76 until the present day, ROSE TATTOO have proven themselves to be one of the hardest, heaviest, toughest rock 'n' roll bands that's ever stalked the boards. In Australia, they worked the pubs for three years, driving the followers into terminal euphoria. They clobbered the charts with songs like Bad Boy For Love. They were banned from appearing on Countdown (a show with three million viewers every week and a format similar to Top Of The Pops) because of a controversial incident that exploded when Angry planted a passionate kiss on one of his guitarists in a spontaneous display of affection. The incurred the wrath of the law at least once a week and still they turned in the most exhilarating hard rock 'n' roll.

Pirates of the highways, their live reputation was astounding. It was a reputation that was reinforced with the release of their magnificent debut album. Featuring songs like Nice Boys (Don't Play Rock 'n' Roll), Astra Wally, The Butcher And Fast Eddie (the true story of a fatal Melbourne gang war), Stuck On You, Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw, One Of The Boys and Remedy that first LP was a killer. Recorded in Alberts famed rock 'n' roll studio number one by producers Vanda & Young, it was acclaimed as possibly the most "live" studio album ever recorded. Vanda & Young, former Easybeats, had recorded such artists as Stevie Wright, John Paul Young and AC/DC, but it was on this album that they reached their hard rock peak. Turn it up and you could swear you were there, rocking between the stacks, bleeding into the monitors, giving everything you've got while The Tatts hurtle into the maelstrom.

Following the Countdown incident and various other controversial situations that only added to their outlaw status, Rose Tattoo were virtually banned by Australian radio. In short, they were not considered "safe". Undaunted they continued to rock the pubs, sending fans into a frenzy 'most every night of the week, covering the territory from Perth to Mooloolabah, building upon that fanatical legion of followers.

By 1980, they'd secured European release for their debut album Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw and had scored chart positions in Germany and other territories with songs like One Of The Boys. In the wake of recording their second album Assault & Battery in Sydney (again with Vanda & Young) The Tatts took off to launch their first offensive on the European market. Based in London, they conducted significant and successful headlining tours of Europe (also co-headling with such established bands as ZZ Top). In England, they followed up a monumental tour as support to Rainbow with their own headlining tours of the British Iles. It was that tour with Rainbow that gave The Tatts the support they deserved. Critics hailed The Rosies. Said Brian Harrigan of Melody Maker, "In Angry Anderson they possess potentially one of the more charismatic front men in hard rock." Other reports were equally as enthusiastic.

In the wake of that tour, Rose Tattoo clobbered the British charts. Magnum Maid reached 14th place on the Oi charts while Out Of This Place hit fifth position on Record World's Heavy Metal Chart. Over the next few weeks, following their appearance at the famed Reading Festival (third on a bill of eleven on Saturday night), they continued to dominate the British charts. On the heavy metal charts, the Assault & Battery album reached number one (following in the footsteps of the Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw LP which had taken out the honours a few months earlier). Hailed as the best heavy metal album on 1981, (Sounds) Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw has sown the seeds of mayhem to follow.

By the time The Tatts had really started swinging, the British heavy metal charts looked like their territory, with number one positions notched up for Bad Boy For Love and Assault & Battery while Remedy and Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw single clobbered the top ten. From the day of their arrival in the UK (when they did the first of two successive sell-out gigs at London's infamous Marquee Club - scoring a widley - viewed spot on the Old Grey Whistle Test in the process) to their last UK date - a headlining appearance at London's Hammersmith Odeon on Dec 19, The Tatts took Europe by storm. The fact that they had the grip was undisputed. Even on one of the toughest tours of the years, the reviewers had "the new steamy heavy metal excitement" of Rose Tattoo up-staging the "lacklustre" Rainbow.

In December 1981, Rose Tattoo returned to Australia to commence work on their third album. America, they figured, could wait until 1982. But even without touring, they'd already made a severe impression on the American psyche. In Recommended Trax, a reviewer for the influential Gavin Report summed it up: "Crawl into your bomb shelters, here comes Rose Tattoo. After a couple of rounds of AC/DC and Angel City (Australia's) sending Rose Tattoo over to finish us off." Obviously he'd read the British live reviews; one of which claimed that Rose Tattoo make Motorhead look like chorus line in a ballet.

Back in Australia, The Tatts ran into trouble. Touring plans were aborted when guitarist Rob Riley lost control of his motorcycle and thrashed his arm. In six months, the band managed only one live appearance, playing to a capacity fanatical audience at Sydney's Horden Pavillion (fans, upon hearing about the impending event, flew in from as far away as Perth - a distance of some three thousand miles - for that one). Backed up by a massive 42,000 watt sound system, Rose Tattoo decimated the venue.

By July '82 they were ready to hit the studio again to record their third album with Vanda & Young........titled Scarred For Life. In the midst of the recording sessions (again at Alberts) the band prepared for a monumental Australian pub tour arranged under the banner of Never Too Loud!

With world-wide release of the third album planned for late September/early October, Rose Tattoo are already planning for their first live assault on America before resuming their European offensive. As Angry said during a UK interview, "We were formed to be the ultimate rock 'n' roll band." The Tatts, hailed as The Best New Band Of The Year by the readers of Kerrang! (the mass circulation British heavy metal magazine), are ready to conquer the world. 'Cos with this band there is a belief, a commitment, and a conviction. As Angry stated when another dose of hep threatened at strike him down, "No filthy disease is gonna kick me out of this band!"

It's that no-compromise that has cemented Rose Tattoo's reputation. Fashion is irrelevant; the combination is bonded in blood and ink and this outfit was born to reign. And if Rock 'n' Roll Is King then it's The Tatts who wield the blade of power. Galvanised and vulcanised, that blade is as dirty as their denims, hard 'n' fast as their music and as sharp as their street-wise skulls.

Believe it: The Night Of The Rose Tattoo Is Coming Down.....

OCTOBER 1982
 
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