Rockbrat Remembers: Rose Tattoo’s Pete Wells and Mick Cocks

Posted: July 21, 2010 by rockbrat in Rockbrat Remembers:
Tags: , , , ,

The much-missed Peter Wells and Mick Cocks

For the uneducated, Peter Wells and Mick Cocks were the twin guitar attack for Rose Tattoo. I have many great memories of seeing the Tatts over the years, and Pete and Mick in other incarnations as well. Their contributions to rock n roll are immense and it is important that the memories of Cocksy and Wellsy live on.  I was fortunate to see Pete dozens of times in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, and those memories will live with me. Pete was an original, the pioneer of the bad bay tattooed rock n roll outlaw that was shamelessly ripped off by Guns n Roses and other Sunset Strip wannabe posers in the late 80’s. I saw him play with Mick in the band Heart Attack in the late 80’s, I saw him play at the Espy in St. Kilda in 1991 with the thunderous Warwick Fraser on drums (Billy Thorpe – in Australia at that time was also in attendance). I saw him do a residency at the Northpoint Tavern in North Sydney for many Tuesday’s throughout the winter of 1993. Also, residencies at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills spring to mind, as does the Brittania Hotel in Chippendale. Pete was always giving of his time and was always kind enough to chat with me. I remember sitting on milk crates with him and his partner Lucy DeSoto, chatting and drinking beer, after a gig at the Manly Boatshed in 1992. So many fond memories of those shows. His slide guitar sound, Lucy’s rollicking piano and spirited harmony vocals – man I thought those days would last forever. For a time Pete had Mick on guitar in his line-up, along with long time Rosie Tatts drummer Paul DeMarco ! What a killer line-up ! What I’d give to see them one more time. Selecting the best time I saw these two on the same stage is a tough decision. But I would probably name the 22 January 1993 show at Wagga – of all places – as my choice memory. You gotta remember that the Tatts had been on hold for some years – with both Angry and Pete forging succesful solo careers (Angry even said on a nationwide Radio Interview in 1990, in response to my brother’s question of ‘would he ever work with Pete and Mick again ?’ that “there will never be another Rose Tattoo” !!) The prompting of Guns n Roses for Rose Tattoo to open the shows on their 1993 Australian Tour set the wheels firmly in motion. My memories of the Wagga show are still vivid. It was a sweaty Friday evening and baking hot – at a nightclub called The Copacabana.  The scorching summer heat was matched only by the ferocity of the re-united Rose Tattoo when they hit the tiny stage at around 11PM. As usual, they were ungodly loud – and their heavy-handed blooze and boogie assault was relentless. I stood in awe – whilst being pounded by rock n roll in it’s purest form. I also remember – when they started playing Astra Wally, finding a public telephone at the back of the venue and calling my brother back in Sydney so he could hear what he was missing out on. ‘Cop this !’ I thought !!    

For a time, Mick filled the shoes of Gary Dixon in TMG when the band re-commenced gigging in the early 90’s as well. I have very fond memories of seeing TMG during this period at Coogee Bay, the long-demolished Manly Vale Hotel and also in Canberra at a venue called the Charnwood Inn. I remember seeing the smirk on Cocksy’s face that night with a sparse Canberra crowd – that was mostly made up of drunken females – (70’s throwbacks weened on Countdown) who were dancing at front stage clutching vinyl copies of ‘Here We Are’. Many times I did not bring my camera with me to these shows – as I said before, I thought these days would never end. Only they did. In 2006 Pete passed away from prostate cancer and in 2009 Mick succumbed to liver cancer. Rose Tattoo continue to carry on –  it’s not something I believe they should be doing. Imagine hearing some kid in Germany in 2010 saying he just saw Rose Tattoo – when Wells and Cocks are not there !?  It’s like the Stones without Richards – but that’s just my opinion. These are some of my thoughts and memories of Peter Wells and Mick Cocks – I will add other photographs, live reviews and album reviews when time permits.  I hate all that Rock n Roll heaven bullshit which people carry on with, but if it is true….geez….Bon, Wellsy, Mick Cocks, Lobby, Thorpie, Rilen…..J.C would want some serious ear plugs !

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Comments
  1. mark o'neill says:

    great stuff, i saw the tats heaps of times over the years, mainly at the bridgeway hotel in adelaide.but the best concert i ever saw the tats do was at calder park in melbourne when they reformed for gunsnroses, they were so tight, it was like they were playing for their lives.

  2. Roger says:

    With other people playing their songs the Tatts live on… Check out Anne McCue’s version of ‘Rock’n’Roll’ outlaw on her new album, Broken Promise Land. She plays the slide guitar on this one….

  3. Sonya Kereopa says:

    Hey,thank you for sharing the memories.One of my earliest was of French’s Wine Bar on Oxford St.Darlinghurst.Tatts had a residency ,they played every Fri or Wed nite,can’t quite remember and Chisel were permanent Thurs nites. Green ginger wine,cider and some of the best RnR this country had or ever will have to offer!

  4. Rodney Arrowsmith says:

    PETE WELLS Australia’s Best Guitarist I will never forget Pete I was blessed to see him live & become friends with him from 2001 to his last gig 2006 He was so down to earth & would always talk to me ROD

  5. Gilles says:

    Late but not too late, I totally agree your opinion about the tatts going on after Cocks and Wells farewell, but I would go beyond, after Dallas passed, they should have stop! Listen to digger drumplaying is a real remedy, what a kick! In France, their first lp was released in 80 or 81! I passed all that year listening to Rock’N’ Roll Outlaw, Astra Wally’s Cocks’s intro, Fast Eddy being putting down by that Butcher, and now I dare sing and play some of this album with a friend on drums, a kind of tribute I’m trying to give to both Cocks and Wells, The name of that duet is Un Chevelu Un Barbu (a hairy one and a bearded one) I consider Cocks as a master of r’n’r rythm guitar, and Astra Wally as masterpiece. I stopped listening to Rose Tattoo after Assault and Battery, with another masterpiece Chinese Dunkirk where all the members are brilliant. Angry and Geordie are still here. “And so I raise my glass to you, Digger, Pete and Mick, and though we’re worlds apart, I’m thinking of you still” Respect and peace and cheers for those who stayed.

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