Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode: 939: Rock’n’roll tattoos

The human body is a remarkably good piece of construction. It has its quirks and shortcomings–have you looked at how a shoulder is put together?–but for the most part, it’s a cool thing: functional, durable, self-healing, and, to other humans, (potentially) attractive. But there’s always room for improvements, modifications, and decoration.

Archeologists have found mummified remains that are thousands and thousands of years old that sport tattoos. There’s a guy named Otzl who was found in the Swiss Alps when a glacier melted. He’d been there for over 5,000 years–and the dude had 61 tats.

Egyptian mummies, Pacific Island, members of ancient African communities, bodies dating to Iron Age Britain, early Japanese societies, and the indigenous peoples of North and South America have all engaged in some form of body art. Tattoos have been used to identify prisoners and slaves, to display religious connections, and associations with armies, navies, bikers, and gangs. No wonder for many people, tattoos still carry some kind of stigma, that only deviants, criminals, and weirdos get tattoos.

But that’s changed a lot in the last 60 years, especially since the beginning of the 21st century. Tattoos have long gone mainstream. In fact, in some circles, if you don’t have any ink, you’re the outsider and the weirdo.

This brings me to the world of rock’n’roll. Tattoos are everywhere. And almost no one stops with just one or two. The last time anyone did a census, Travis Barker of Blink-182 has at least 117 different and distinct tattoos from the top of his head down to his toes.

We’ll get to Travis in a bit. But let’s begin with a look at the history–the whole phenomenon–of rock’n’roll tattoos.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Goldfinger, Here in Your Bedroom
  • Rage Against the Machine, Bombtrack
  • Incubus, Pardon Me
  • Black Flag, TV Party
  • Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly
  • Blink-182, What’s My Age Again?
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Higher Ground
  • Metallica, Enter Sandman

Eric Wilhite’s playlist looks like this.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38516 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Ongoing History of New Music, episode: 939: Rock’n’roll tattoos

  • I listen to you Sunday night show on Q107 Toronto but missed the last 2. What is the link to these so I can catch up?


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