Rose Tattoo have persisted on and off with many personnel changes for many decades, despite the deaths, often by cancer, of most of the early band's lineup. The group was formed in Sydney in 1976 by ex-Buffalo guitarist Peter Wells and -- with the additions of former Buster Brown vocalist Angry Anderson, guitarist Mick Cocks, bassist Ian Rilen, and drummer Dallas "Digger" Royal -- made its public bow on New Year's Eve at the local club Chequers, which several years earlier launched the career of AC/DC. Chiefly inspired by the Rolling Stones and the Faces, Rose Tattoo's ferocious, ear-splitting sound quickly earned a devoted following among Sydney area pubgoers, and in 1978 the group signed to Albert Productions; its debut single, "Bad Boy for Love," was written by Rilen, who left the lineup prior to the record's release. Anderson's onetime Buster Brown bassist Geordie Leach was recruited for Rose Tattoo's self-titled debut LP; after nearly three years of relentless touring, a period that saw Aussie guitar hero Lobby Loyde briefly replace Leach on bass, they issued the follow-up, Assault & Battery, in 1981.
Led Zeppelin, Rose Tattoo returned to Australia to begin work on their third album; with new guitarist Robin Riley replacing Cocks, they issued Scarred for Life in 1982, subsequently touring the U.S. in support of Aerosmith and ZZ Top. However, over the course of 1983 Wells, Royal, and Riley all left the group, with the remaining duo of Anderson and Leach recruiting guitarists Greg Jordan and John Meyer along with drummer Scott Johnston to record 1984's Southern Stars. Leach then exited to join Wells, Royal, and Riley in the short-lived Illustrated Men; Anderson and Johnston continued on as Rose Tattoo, enlisting guitarist Tim Gaze and bassist Andy Cichon for 1986's Beats from a Single Drum. Anderson finally mounted a solo career soon after, as did Wells. After years of substance abuse, Royal died in 1991.