News Segment


January 23, 2007

Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson is best known as the lead singer of rock band Rose Tattoo, but these days he’s also recognised as a champion of children. He has worked as a television reporter informing people about the problems of disadvantaged kids and also worked with programs which raised money for poor or sick children. A dedicated single father himself, Angry has been awards an Order of Australia Medal and several other awards for his good work.

However, his own childhood was far from happy. His abusive father dominated his life as a child. “He was a deeply troubled man, and you come to realise these things later on in life,” reflects Angry. “I’ve dealt with my rage, my pain. You know, you don’t get a nickname like Angry for nothing – I was a very angry boy. I grew into a very angry young man. When he was around he was a very explosive person – and he would just – as they say – go off at the drop of a hat. His rage was very unreasonable.”

Instead of his father, Angry looked to his Uncle Ivan as his role model. “He wasn’t like any of the others. My grandfather was a real teetotaller – no one in the family smoked or drank… Ivan on the other hand was a cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking, leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding drummer in a swing band. So, I mean, here’s this perfect role model for a guy, a young three- to four-year-old, wide-eyed kid. I’ve got Ivan to thank for everything.

“My first ride on a motorcycle [with Uncle Ivan]… I remember the wind on my face, the smell of the petrol, the sound of the motorcycle. I was sitting on the tank in between his arms and it was night time. I was maybe three or four years old, and I just thought, that’s it. I know now that I made some sort of soul commitment at that moment – that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going be just like him.”

After the early example of Uncle Ivan, it seemed that Angry was destined for the world of rock’n’roll, but he nearly turned to the blues scene instead. “The people that I really identified with were the blues singers,” he remembers. “I made a decision many, many years ago that I wanted to be a blues singer. I wanted to sit on a stool, with a guitar and sing about the pain and the angst of life, because that’s what I knew. I understood pain. I knew what pain was about, I knew how lonely you could be.”

Instead, in the mid-70s, Angry formed Rose Tattoo and became one of the pioneers of the heavy rock scene in Australia. And it wasn’t just music that band was known for – their ‘bad boy’ antics also got them attention, like the time the band was banned from Countdown after Angry kissed bandmate Mick Cocks.

“Initially it was a ban off the ABC,” says Angry. “We laughed it off because we thought it was the best publicity you could ever have. I’ve been kissing blokes all my life. I rode motorcycles and I played football, you know, kissing blokes is just second nature. We were locked up in the ABC studios doing Countdown. It was the Grand Final, most of us were into AFL. They locked us in a room, in between rehearsals with two bottles of whisky you know, and about four slabs of beer.”

Angry’s life has recently been touched by sadness again, with the death of former bandmate Peter Wells. They’d played music together for 30 years. “Pete just exuded the blues. He’s one of the greatest slide (guitar) players that ever drew breath. I couldn’t bear to go and see him in that last week and he knew that. And so we said our goodbyes about a week and a half before he actually died.”

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