The 20 bands that inspire tattoos like no other
THE TOP TEN
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Yes, the Chi' Peps. A timeless band, forever hip, forever cool among early twenty-somethings. RHCP is in a select group with bands like Rage Against the Machine and 311, who will be as omnipresent in college dorm rooms as Scarface posters. But like Phish, their stock is dwindling as the growth of new fans slows and gives way to dubstep and the neo-folk of bands like My Morning Jacket. The kinship it shares with other bands on this list is getting that RHCP star logo on your wrist or shoulder blade at one point meant a few things: You were easygoing, a free thinker and prone to getting funky.
Probably the cult punk band in terms of size of the fan base. While the Misfits have sold truckloads of merch over the last thirty years (even bringing their own screens on tour in the early days to screenprint the iconic Crimson Ghost logo on leather jackets), the Misfits tattoo has been spotted on frontmen of bands punk and metal, and on fans of all styles.
The eyebrow-raising imagery in Slayer lyrics and its artwork brought up conversations about the band's social leanings (read: Third Reich), which is enough to make some folks run out and get a tattoo right away. But the real reason you see so many Slayer tattoos? The innovative thrashing that Slayer put down on records like Reign in Blood and Hell Awaits. The simplicity of the name and, again, that army-style logo, helps. Finally, listening to the wail of singer Tom Araya during the opening of "Angel of Death" alone may be enough. That's probably the best thing to say, that you like the singer's voice. Just avoid the controversy.
7. Green Day
Most often spotted was the original logo as seen on the Kerplunk record, but as of late -- a new generation of fans, perhaps -- is the American Idiot heart-shaped grenade. Green Day fans of the American Idiot era who were sixteen in 2004 are now 22, prime age for getting a tattoo, according to Pew.
"Lemmy is God." That line is the most-remembered thing (not just line, but thing) about the movie Airheads, and with good reason. The frontman of Motörhead is badass incarnate, and Motörhead hasn't fucked with the formula of New Wave British Heavy Metal much since forming in 1975. Getting a Motörhead tattoo is a safe bet, and Lemmy's lyrics about the grimy universe in which Motörhead resides ooze attitude -- another reason you see so many Motörhead tattoos.
The death of singer Bradley Nowell in May 1996 -- just a month before the band's incredible self-titled third album was released -- made Sublime a cult band before they made it big. The California lifestyle espoused by Nowell -- surfing, pot and politics -- on Sublime records mushroomed into a lifestyle for teens in the South, in Middle America and on the East Coast. There was zero chance of the band putting out a bad album.
4. Social Distortion
SoCal punk rockers/outlaws/proud scumbags Social Distortion have the key tattoo elements going for them: iconic logo, lifestyle lyrics and a kinship among fans. At any given Social D show, you'll spot at least a dozen tattoos of the long-running band.
3. Insane Clown Posse
Since going to a major label in 1995, ICP and its growing army of Juggalos with Hatchet Man tattoos is this era's best example of a musical group with a cult following. By just showing off your hatchet-man tattoo, you're accepted into the largest gang of self-described outcasts, the Juggalos. You could write an entire magazine story on being a Juggalo, but we're going to move on, because others have already done it.
2. Black Flag
Probably the most famous punk-oriented tattoo, the Black Flag bars were first and most famously sported by the band's most popular -- if not best -- lead singer, Henry Rollins. Since that tattoo was worn on flimsy club stages across America in the '80s, the Black Flag bars have been customized by fans, filled with the colors of a city's flag, surrounded by other artwork and even sported by Academy Award nominees.
1. Iron Maiden
Perhaps the most iconic metal band if only for its iconic Eddie character, Iron Maiden's rise to fame in the '80s -- and again this decade -- shows that its fans are loyal at both the record store and in the tattoo parlor.