Behind The Ink: The Personal Meanings Of Tattoos On Five Major Musicians

Tattoos and music have had a partnership for decades, often being a symbol of a musician’s roots or musical influences. Forty years ago, the only musicians who had tattoos were heavy metal rockers and country outlaws, but this is 2014, and the members of One Direction have just as much ink as Hank Williams Jr.

The tattoos aren’t always pretty (Ozzy’s knee tats) and might look hilariously stupid to some fans, (Gucci Mane’s ice cream cone) but they’re all unique to the musician’s personality.) Here are five musicians from various genres and some background on their famous ink.

To celebrate the New Season of Ink Master, premiering tonight at 10/9c on Spike, the show is sponsoring “Tattoo Bracket 2014.” Vote on your favorite tattoos for your chance to win a trip for 2 to SXSW. Vote here!

Rihanna’s stars

Rihanna’s stars trailing from her neck down to her back is one of her most visible ink displays. The stars were done by New York City-based artist Bang Bang and have a striking similarity to the stars tattoo behind the ear of ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Rihanna’s famous Egyptian chest tattoo from above was done in memory of the singer’s late grandmother.


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Ozzy Osbourne’s smiley faces

The Prince of Darkness has a lot of ink, but two of his least known tattoos are the pair of smiley faces on both knees. Unlike Rihanna, Ozzy’s knee tats weren’t done by a celebrity tattoo artist — the rocker did the tats himself with a sewing needle and grate polish while doing a stint in jail as a young man.


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Dave Grohl’s Zep ink

It’s no surprise that the power of the Foo comes from Led Zeppelin. One of Dave Grohl’s earliest tattoos is John Bonham’s three-circle Led Zeppelin IV symbol, tattooed on the inside of Grohl’s right wrist.

“Kurt and I were living with each other in Olympia,” Grohl told Rolling Stone. “I took the $400 and bought a Nintendo, a BB gun — mind you, I was 21, not 12 — and got that tattoo.”

Gregg Allman’s sleeves

Few musicians have a career as colorful as Gregg Allman’s. The guy has been a music staple since the late 1960s and continues to tour both solo and with the Allman Brothers Band. He’s got tattoos up and down both arms with at least one of them contributing to his diagnosis with hepatitis C in 1999. “I’ll never know for sure how I got chronic hepatitis C, but I think it was from getting a tattoo back in the day, Allman told Everyday Heath. Since then he’s had a liver transplant to combat the disease.

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Gucci Mane’s ice cream face tattoo

What do you do to celebrate the end of your stay in a mental hospital? Go out for ice cream? Nope. Get an ice cream tattoo on your face? If you’re Gucci Mane, then YES! According to Kali Bowyer, a rep for Gucci, the ice cream cone is a reminder to fans of how he chooses to live his life, “cool as ice.”

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