The 20 bands that inspire tattoos like no other

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An average Misfits fan.
Personally, it's been the "One Bad Album" rule. That's all it takes for a band's musical reputation to be asterisked forever, which makes getting a tattoo of that band, well, risky. You have to wonder how often thirty-somethings across the land hear "Nice Chi' Peps tat, brah," sarcastically said to them by a stranger, regarding the ink they received during a black-out trip to a Daytona Beach tattoo parlor during Spring Break '92.

That scenario will and should keep anybody from getting tattooed with the logo (or, God forbid, lead singer's face) on their skin for the rest of their life. But it won't faze those fans who wear their ink as a badge of honor.

It's true, some bands inspire tattoos more than others -- evidenced by the utter lack of Third Eye Blind tattoos. Here, based on highly scientific research conducted in bars, dimly lit clubs and arena parking lots, are the twenty bands that most inspire tattoos among their fans:

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20. The Rolling Stones
With the median age of the Stones' largest fan group inching toward the seventies, the number of tattoos by Stones fans is significantly smaller than say, ICP fans. But like the band's music, Rolling Stones tattoos are kind of timeless, which puts them at Number 20 on our list.

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19. The Descendents
Many of the bands on this list seem to come from the punk scene, which is explained by a few things: 1) The age of that scene's fans (maxes out at about 55), and 2) the rebellious nature, an attitude that tattoos have been sleeping with since before Joey Ramone first copped dope. The Descendents' iconic "Milo" logo -- or a personalized variation of it -- has been spotted on forearms from coast to coast since the mid-'80s, when the band really came into popularity. The band's resurgence and reunion tours only helped keep the tattoo guns buzzing.

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18. Hot Water Music
The fire-over-water logo is another symbol frequently spotted around rock shows. Like all the bands on this list, Hot Water Music inspires a dedicated -- cult, even? -- following among its fans, inspiring new bands that sound like HWM and a hot sea of tattoos.

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17. Led Zeppelin
The original heavy-metal band (debate below in the comments), Led Zeppelin's rumored dabbling in the occult only helped its cult status among fans. Also, Led Zep has so many cool logos (see above), there are plenty to choose from if you're looking to make a statement about your outlook on life, as well as your favorite choice in music. Also, the fact they they hardly released a bad record, or even song, makes a Zeppelin tattoo a safe bet. An Alison Krauss and Robert Plant tattoo? Not so much.

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16. Type O Negative
Longevity and a commitment to a particular sound -- usually based around a solid lineup -- plus an iconic logo will result in more than a few tattoos. That's the case with Brooklyn-founded Type O Negative, started by the late, great Peter Steele (RIP). Any big metal show in the country should include a few Type O tattoos; if it doesn't, you might want to question your taste in mainstream metal, because as that style goes, it's hard to top Type O.

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15. KISS
Paradoxically standing in both cult territory and a state filled with grossly commercial success, KISS was Lady Gaga before Lady Gaga, Madonna before Madonna or Metallica before Metallica. Hell, they practically coined the term "army" after their name. As such, members of the KISS Army march forward, led by their vile general, Gene Simmons. If these fans are going to go out in public dressed like Peter Criss, then getting inked for the good of the Army is pretty easy. You don't see too many KISS tattoos these days, but the ones you do see are usually huge. Because with KISS, you don't do anything small.

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14. Alkaline Trio
The sons and daughters of KISS fans may scoff at their elders' ink while confidently looking at their own band tattoo. That tattoo is often the logo of Chicago-based second-wave emo punks Alkaline Trio. The skull-in-heart logo has been put on stickers, shirts and record covers, and extended to skin. It's iconic and deep -- love and death and all that.

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13. Operation Ivy
With the popularity of Bay Area punks Rancid in the mid-'90s came renewed interest in Operation Ivy, a band that had two members of Rancid. In comparison with early Rancid material, Op Ivy songs, while less structured and raw, resonated with fans of the sound. The political "message songs" only compelled fans to get tattoos of the band.

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12. Radiohead
Radiohead has a cult following, but the band's introverted style isn't one that always jibes with the run-out-and-get-tattooed crowd. Still, you'll spot a Radiohead tattoo at mainstream music festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, and on undergrads at college campuses, of course, who just downloaded The Bends and whose minds have changed forever -- or at least for a semester.

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11. Phish
Phish's heyday in the late '90s was a time when you could spot a Phish tattoo on any guy or girl involved in a sweaty, quick-moving game of hacky-sack. It was a time of small, inconspicuous -- cute, even -- tattoos, when rainbow-colored dolphins swimming around a full moon were also everywhere. There's no need to explore the dedication of fans who live by the music of Trey Anastasio and Co. This is Denver, after all. Phish tattoos today are tougher to spot in certain areas of the country, but still exist in the wild.

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17 comments
wtfman
wtfman

WTF NO GRATEFUL DEAD SERIOUSLY???

cyberbmcd
cyberbmcd

Top 20 List and No Grateful Dead? Seriously? Who compiled this a 3rd grader?


Myles Dolphin
Myles Dolphin

There are thousands of NIN fans, myself included, with tattoos. Just saying. 

phanart
phanart

there are tons of Phish tattoos in the PhanArt book

aaronphoto
aaronphoto

Type O really needs to be number one, just ask Mr. Herrera.

RZA
RZA

Wu-Tang Clan!!!!!!!! google it and see how many tattoo results you get. Wu-Tang!!!!!!

Number Three
Number Three

Whew. Okay, I stand corrected. For a second, I though Rollins himself was gonna come get ya.

3

Terrible List
Terrible List

FAIL! No Bouncing Souls?? I've seen way more of their tats then Type O Negative.

Nick Lucchesi
Nick Lucchesi

Thanks for the feedback all. I'm sorry to have neglected the Grateful Dead. I had them on my draft list but dropped the ball.

Number Three, Black Flag is #2 on our list

-N

Zonduh
Zonduh

I'd argue that Depeche Mode should be on this list. The Violator flower being the tattoo of choice for most fans.

chivo
chivo

I gotta call BS on this list. I'm no fan, but how can you have a list like this and not include the Grateful Dead? I think they've inspired more tattoos than Op Ivy......

Obi138
Obi138

Unfortunately Godsmack and their stupid tribal sun is repeated more than several of your top 10.

Bob
Bob

Ah you didn't include Wu-Tang!! Wu logo is one of the most iconic logos of all time and more people have tattoos of it than pretty much everything on this list. Better update.

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