Rock Star Tattoos – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


In Arctic Monkeys’ video for R U Mine, Alex Turner reveals a Yorkshire rose tattoo.


It’s not the first time the Arctic Monkeys frontman has had ink done. He already has punk rock poet John Cooper Clarke’s name tattooed on his arm. Here’s a look at other notable rock and roll tatts…


Professor Green had ‘Lucky’ tattooed on his neck in early 2009. Just weeks later he was stabbed in the neck with a broken beer bottle in an altercation. “I thought I was going to die when I was outside on the pavement holding my neck and face together,” he said of the incident.



Courtney Love unveiled these flower designs via Twitter a while back, after a period of Twitter silence. “I’ve returned TRIUMPHANT,” she yammered, though that’s probably not the word we’d use.


When he’s not glugging his own weight in purple drank, Lil Wayne likes to get slightly rubbish stuff etched on his face. The rapper has “I am music” written above his eyebrow (so modest), and “Fear God” tattooed on his eyelids – ouch. The four tears, meanwhile, represent people in his family who have died.

The Libertines album

The Libertines album

Immortalised on the sleeve of the second Libertines album, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat had “Libertine” (etched in each other’s handwriting) tattooed on their arms during a recording session in New York, May 2003. The prelude to this moment can be heard on ‘The Good Old Days’, in which, after the lyric, “A list of things we said we’d do tomorrow,” Doherty yells ‘Get a tattoo!’


Frank Carter isn’t just heavily tattooed himself – he’s a proper tattoo artist. “In the tattoos I do for other people, the imagery I like to focus on is Victorian,” he explains. I walk around Buckingham Palace, and I’m gobsmacked.” So if you go to him and end up with a tattoo of a Beefeater, don’t say you weren’t warned.



Lady Gaga: she’s so deep. The tattoo on her left arm is a quote by poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and translates as: “Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?”


Edwyn Collins produced Frankie And The Heartstrings’ debut album. To say thank you, singer Frankie Francis had a self-portrait of Collins – made when the Orange Juice legend was recovering from a brain haemorrhage in 2005 – tattooed on his arm. Aww.


Boy George had a Star Of David and lotus flower tattoo etched on his bald head in 2005, when he was going through a Kabbalah phase. We can only assume he got a passing five-year-old to do the design, because frankly it’s piss poor.


Here’s Sam from Trash Talk, showing off a weird sort of cat/snake/dragon design that we can only assume he massively regretted once he’d sobered up and realised he’d have an amateurish line drawing covering his entire torso for, like, ever.



Why has Cee-Lo Green got the word “trill” tattooed above his right ear? Well, according to the Urban Dictionary, it’s “an adjective used in hip-hop culture to describe someone who is considered to be well respected, coming from a combination of the words ‘true’ and ‘real’.” So now you know.


Ex-Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee courted controversy when he had a Nazi swastika tattoo drawn on his arm in 1998. Wisely, he has since had it removed.


Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis is of native American descent, and his tattoos reflect this. The stylized eagle across his back is reminiscent of artwork produced by the pre-Columbian societies of the Pacific North West.


Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, who narrowly escaped death in a plane crash, has an enormous number of tattoos, the largest of them being a boom-box on his stomach, a reference to his childhood love of breakdancing.


Katy Perry (born Katherine Elizabeth Hudson) has the word ‘Jesus’ scribed on the inside of her left wrist. The first line of her debut album’s liner thanks God too – despite her songs referring to lesbianism. Perry was the middle child of two pastors in California and developed a taste for singing at her local gospel church.


Henry Rollins, best known for fronting hardcore legends Black Flag, has many tattoos covering his body, including an assortment on his arms, the Black Flag logo on the back of his neck, and a large sun on his back accompanied with the words “Search and Destroy”.


Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz has a number of gothic tattoos, including an image of Jack Skellington – from the Tim Burton film ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – on his right arm. Below his navel he has the bat/skull logo of his own Clandestine Industries clothing line.


Subways frontman Billy Lunn had ‘Strawberry Blonde’ tattooed across his stomach as a tribute to the song of the same name, which appears on the band’s recently-released sophomore album ‘All Or Nothing’. It could also, of course, refer to bandmate and ex-girlfriend Charlotte Cooper (pictured left).


In addition to these pink angel wings on her shoulder blades, socialite Kelly Osbourne also has a crudely-drawn vintage synthesizer on her right forearm. She claims not to remember having it done.


Gossip’s frontwoman Beth Ditto showing an anchor tattoo inscribed with the word ‘Mama’ across it. The rock singer claims the inspiration for it was her close but uncomfortable tie with her Mum and trying to grow up in a Bible-belt town whilst coming to terms with her sexuality.


Björk has described the tattoo on her upper left arm as a Viking’s compass. “It’s so I don’t get lost,” she explains. “If the Vikings had bad weather or fog, they used to draw it on their foreheads with a piece of coal. I thought that was a bit much, so I put it there.”


Britney Spears’ Tinkerbell tattoo. According to psychologists, Tinkerbell tattoos traditionally symbolise the “overpowering nature of corporate America”, whereas fairies as a whole are symbols of youthful innocence and a desire to retain a childlike imagination.


Jon Bon Jovi with a Superman tattoo on his left arm. The New-Jersey-based rocker got the tattoo in July 1987 after his band’s third album ‘Slippery When Wet’ claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200.


Billie Joe Armstrong, frontman of Green Day, has a photostrip of his wife Adrienne, as well as her name, tattooed on his right arm. He also has the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ logo, the ‘Riverdales’ logo and his son’s name to add to his collection of over 15 more around his body.


Christina Aguilera with her name tattooed on the back of her neck. The songstress also has ‘Te Ame Siempre’ scribed on her left forearm, which is Spanish for ‘I love you always’, and her husband Jordan Bratman’s initials tattooed on her lower back.


Dave Navarro from ‘Jane’s Addiction’ and ‘The Panic Channel’ fame. The heavily tattooed rocker was inspired to get a unique tattoo on his right arm after sitting next to a woman on a plane who showed him her concentration camp markings. He says, “I was on an airplane with a woman looking at my tattoos and she said, ‘I have a tattoo, but not by choice.’ And she rolled up her sleeve and showed me the numbers on her arm. She had been in Auschwitz.”


Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy, has a tattoo of a heart on her lower left stomach, a pair of pink angel wings on her back, a star star at base of her neck, a skull & cross bones on top of each foot, “Daddy” on her forearm with a lock and key underneath and a banner that says “this too shall pass”, a small pink heart on her little finger, and an anchor under left forearm.


Pink displays her shoulder tattoos. The multi-million selling pop star’s upcoming album, ‘Funhouse’, will be released in October 2008, and has been preceded by her first solo number one ever on the Billboard Hot 100, ‘So What.’