Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Idol Ink

November 26th, 2009 by

I think that anyone who has tattoos or plans on getting tattoos can easily identify with the desire to have something from one of your idols tattooed on your body.  That something can be anything from a portrait of your favourite historical figure, to the lyrics to one of your favourite songs, to the logo of of your favourite band – it can really be anything.

Right now I’m sitting here listening to the debut album from Them Crooked Vultures, the rock supergroup put together by Dave Grohl (Nirvana, The Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queen’s of the Stone Age and a whole bunch of other side projects), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).  Anyone who is familiar with Dave Grohl knows that he has plenty of tattoos, but what you might not know is that it was Grohl’s own personal obsession with late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, that spurned him on to get some of his first tattoos.

Grohl’s first tattoo was an attempt at the iconic Black Flag bars on his forearm when he was 12 or 13.  He did the “tattoo” himself with a needle and pen ink, but quit after gouging three bars into his left forearm rather than the required four, because according to Grohl: “It hurt.”

Grohl didn’t exactly come away from that episode learning a lesson.  Instead, he discovered Led Zeppelin and the man that he still considers to this day to be the greatest rock n’ roll drummer ever, John Bonham.  At the age of 16, Grohl decided that he wanted to be set up with Bonham’s three circle Led Zeppelin IV logo.  Once again, Grohl was plunged into the world of self tattoo.  This time however, he got his hands on three different colours of ink in order to make the tattoo look “pro”.  The end result?  “…now it looks like someone put a fucking cigarette out on my arm,” says Grohl.

Still not deterred by his previous attempts at getting tattooed, Grohl went for a second attempt at the John Bonham logo while in Amsterdam.  This time, he had the work done by a Dutch scratcher/squatter who rigged up a tattoo gun out of an old doorbell machine.

It wasn’t until he was making a little bit of money while playing with Nirvana, at the age of 21, that Grohl finally got his Led Zeppelin tattoo properly and professionally done.  He used part of his first check from the band for $400, buying a Nintendo and BB gun and the tattoo.

Hell, that’s some determination.  Of course all the scratching was bad news and Grohl no doubt regrets it now, but it just goes to show that when you’re determined to honor your idols with a tattoo, sometimes people go to great lengths.  For Dave Grohl, it was a third time’s the charm scenario.  Me personally, I’m waiting for the day that I meet either Woody Allen or Larry David, getting them to autograph my arm and having it immediately tattooed over.

Not very rock n’ roll, but heroes of mine that I want to preserve, none the less.

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