ANGRY ANDERSON - BOUND FOR GLORY
Angry Anderson is a contemporary Australian icon and unquestionably one of the best known and most recognised individuals of his generation.
Think of Angry Anderson and so many words and images spring to mind - an incurable romantic, passionate, intense, manic, anti-establishment, unpredictable, motivated, bald, charming and stubborn.
As rock historian Glenn A Baker has written: 'Through the years... Angry has shocked, rocked, amused and entertained us all.'
Growing up on the mean streets of Coburg in Melbourne, the young Angry (christened Gary) was obsessed by the music he heard on the radio. These were the years before rock 'n' roll and Angry would sit glued to the radio, soaking up the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Patsy Cline, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra.
Cinema played an equally important role, his favourite actor being Spencer Tracy and his favourite film being Captains Courageous with its story line of a spoiled little rich kid, full of airs and graces, who's forced to learn the lessons of life on a tuna boat. As Angry has recalled, the first time he saw the film, "I just bawled. It really affected me."
Popular at school, Angry played most sports but suffered from stress-related asthma, and was far too small to be a star player. During secondary schooling he moved to Coburg Technical School, a trade school for semiskilled and skilled labourers. It was during this time that Angry discovered he was physically short. He was given nicknames like "Mouse" and "Tiny", and was always the one who had to stand at the end of the line up for school photographs so he didn't muck up the balance of the shot.
Angry developed what he calls 'little guy syndrome' - a big mouth, and a big chip on his shoulder. From a very early age he wanted to be thought of as a dangerous, or somehow formidable. He didn't mind being short as long as people thought they shouldn't mess with him. That's an attitude that remains to this day.
As a teenager Angry became increasingly rebellious, the kind of person who stood out in a crowd. He was the first one to grow his hair long, the first one to cut his hair short. He didn't dress like anyone else either. He went from one mad craze to another, and he loved to shock people with his outfits. He'd put on some outrageous shirt or coat, and try to pretend he was someone other than little Gary Anderson.
With the end of Technical School came the beginning of Angry's working life. His final grades were so poor that he didn't qualify for any sort of job, and it became clear that he wasn't going to get anywhere without someone pulling some strings. An Uncle intervened and organised for Angry to get a job as a fitter and turner at a local factory. Angry wasn't impressed but needed the money so he stuck to it.
One of Angry's few pleasers at the time was listening to rock 'n' roll music, first the Beatles, and later the Rolling Stones. He also changed jobs, becoming a clothes cutter, a job that allowed him to purchase the one thing he'd always wanted - a motorbike. He also continued to acquire tattoos.
Increasingly music took up all of Angry's spare time. He wanted to be a blues guitarist because he'd always loved the blues. He imagined himself as some aloof, moody, soul performer, sitting on a stool in front of a huge audience with just his guitar. His ambition changed regularly though - he wanted to be all things. "First of all I wanted to be like all the great blues guitar players, then I wanted to like Bob Dylan, then of course I wanted to be like John Lennon," Angry recalls.
There wasn't much call for a short, tattooed blues guitarist on the Melbourne music scene, so it was with rock 'n' roll bands that Angry slowly started to make his name. He moved from band to band with names like Primitive and the Peace, Power and Purity.
When Angry first got involved with bands, he didn't plan on being a singer. He wanted to be a guitarist and the singing came by accident. "At the time, with the particular line-up we had, we had three guitar players," Angry explains. "The other two were much better than me, so the only other thing we needed was a singer. I remember how it happened. We went into the kitchen one at a time and then had to sing Twist and Shout without accompaniment. I just happened to be the best one at it."
It was at this time that Gary Anderson became Angry Anderson. After a fight in a Melbourne pub one of those involved started talking about an "angry ant". Soon his friends dropped the ant part and simply referred to him as Angry.
Buster Brown was Angry's first step up to fame. It was a band that took to the stage like it was taking to a battle zone. Buster was unpredictable, volatile, and spontaneous... everything Angry needed in a band.
In hindsight through his activities with Buster Brown and latter Rose Tattoo, Angry is seen as a pioneer of heavy rock music in this country at a time when ditties like Sadie The Cleaning Lady and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds were teenage national anthems.
Buster Brown, made quite an impact and were the perfect antidote to the sappy pop music that prevailed at the time.
Buster became a sharpie band, a sort of Melbourne adaptation of the mod and skinhead trends from London. The guys who came to see the band, and it was mostly guys, were sort of lightweight gangsters, working class kids who'd been in plenty of trouble but weren't quite hardened criminals. Buster quickly developed a reputation as one of Melbourne's most over-the-top bands. They were rabid and extreme, and they made a name for themselves as the band of bands that loses its head on stage. People flocked to see the band, just to make sure they didn't miss out on the one gig where something huge happened.
This was a new world for Angry. He could take his Buster Brown image as far as he wanted. Just as long as he was the loudest, or the drunkest, or the angriest, or the most outrageous, everyone was happy.
Buster Brown recorded one album, Something To Say, for Mushroom Records. Angry wrote all the lyrics with the exception of a cover of Roll Over Beethoven.
When Buster Brown disintegrated, Angry formed a short-lived band with guitar legend Lobby Lloyde, but by the middle of the 1970's he was at a loose end.
After moving to Sydney, Angry formed the now legendary Rose Tattoo, the band playing their first real gig on January 1, 1976 at Chequers nightclub. Rose Tattoo was Buster Brown grown up. They performed like no other band. They were as wild and outrageous as a band can possibly be. They lived the bad life, but they knew they had all they needed to make a huge mark on the Australian music scene.
As Angry explained in 1982: "The name Rose Tattoo is comprised of two contrasting words. A rose is delicate, beautiful and associated with high romance. But tattoos are masculine, aggressive and ugly. We are as outrageously macho as we appear but were not a bunch of idiots, we are really thinking, caring people."
For many years Rose Tattoo, fronted by Angry, were seen as the archetypal bad boys of Australian rock 'n' roll in this country. And they attracted a like-minded audience. As Angry recalls, "They were all radicals, people from the services, army, navy... every sort of misfit from Darlo to Paddo to the Cross to Bondi... we used to play at the Astra Hotel in Bondi. It was the lunatic fringe, it was desperado territory. You know, it was all the misplaced, unwanted desperates."
Rose Tattoo were down and dirty, and although they hated the description, they were being hailed as Australia's first punk rock band.
As well as having a consistent and obsessive following, Angry and Rose Tattoo toured throughout Europe, the UK, and the United States, as well as traversing about Australia more times than they or anyone else cares to remember.
Rose Tattoo recorded a string of classic hard rock 'n' roll records with titles like Bad Boy For Love, Scarred For Life, Stuck On You, Assault And Battery, We Can't Be Beaten and what could be considered Angry's anthem - Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw.
It was on the eve of a European tour that Angry met the woman he would eventually marry, Lindy Michael. Their first child, Roxanne was born in 1983 whilst Angry was on an American tour with Rose Tattoo.
After that tour Rose Tattoo was in a shambles. They hadn't officially disbanded but things were far from healthy. Angry realised he needed to do some other things with his life. As with almost everything else, when Angry finally made the move he made it a big one. He didn't just slip quietly into life as a painter or builder. He found himself two new jobs... one in the movies, and one in television as the youth reporter for the Midday Show.
Angry has always been an outspoken personality whether onstage or off. His candid opinions on subject matters ranging from youth affairs, drug addiction and cultural issues have seen many a head turn when this tattooed, aggressive and in-your-face man made a public stand on any of these issues and became directly involved in debates.
This made 1985's move to youth reporter's gig on the Midday Show (Channel 9 with Ray Martin) a natural - although initially many observers were bemused by the transition. Between engagements with Rose Tattoo he became increasingly involved with making the public aware of problems not only associated with the youth of this time but with people who were not as fortunate as others.
Angry was also passionate about people who were working hard themselves to make things a little easier for kids looking for work, who had left home, were involved with drugs, had terminal diseases or did not know what to do when they had left school.
In 1986 Angry and Lindy were married. It was on the first Saturday in January, one day after Roxy's third birthday. Soon after the wedding Angry had the biggest hit record of his career, a song called Suddenly which he'd written for Lindy. When Suddenly was first released it was moderately successful at best, but then it was chosen as the song for the wedding of the decade - the Neighbours TV show wedding of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. Suddenly catapulted to the top of the Australian charts, and was only beaten out of the number one position in Britain by a new Cliff Richard single, and Kylie Minogue herself.
Angry and Lindy now have four children - daughter Roxanne and three sons - Galen, Blaine and Liam. Regardless of all his public commitments Angry's family are still the most important people in his life. As he says of his children, "Every single time one of the kids walks past and says dad, I just fall apart. It's just the word."
Amidst all the frantic activity of television, acting and music commitments Angry still managed to find time to join the theatre world. In 1989 he played the role of Vladimir Lenin in Rasputin, the musical version of Russian history. Then Angry landed the role of Herod in the record breaking Jesus Christ Superstar - the concert in 1992. Prior to this Angry had also become well known in film circles having had prominent roles in Bullamakanka, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
During 1993 Angry and Rose Tattoo reformed and toured nationally with Guns 'N Roses who admitted in interviews that the Tatts had been one of their favourite and most inspirational bands. The tour played to in excess of 10,000 people each night.
Angry then moved on to front the Channel 9 current affairs monthly special, Challenge, which focuses on helping out charities. The Challenge takes on 'challenges' which seem impossible to attain, yet shows that, if people are willing to lend a hand, anything can be achieved. Previous Challenges include building a playground for handicapped children within 48 hours, providing relief to drought stricken farmers, and providing Christmas presents to underprivileged children and granting the wishes of children from The Starlight Foundation. For the final challenge Angry flew to Cambodia, with the help of the R.A.A.F., to deliver artificial limbs to land mine victims.
Angry's biography, Scarred For Life, (written by Karen Dewey) was published in 1994 and Angry continues to work tirelessly for many charities and organisations.
Trying to list the charities and organisations that Angry supports would take several pages. He's had long term associations with the Prince Of Wales Children's Hospital, Camperdown Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and Bear Cottage. There's also been extensive involvement with Odyssey House ? drug rehabilitation program and Oasis - the Salvation Army centre for street kids.
Angry has also given long term support to Cancer Research, Canteen, Camp Quality, N.A.P.C.A.N, Amnesty, Refugee Week, Greenpeace, The Starlight Foundation, and the Make A Wish Foundation. He's been an Australia Day Ambassador, spent two years as President of Children's Week and been a Director on the board of the Foodshare Program.
A midst the numerous awards Angry has Received are the Advance Australia Award (1986), the Australian Medal A.M. (1993) and the Special Merit Advance Australia Award (1995).
Angry's music career has not ended as a result of his various commitments. Angry has toured individually on the Lounge Lizards Tour with The Angels and Ross Wilson.
In July and August 1998 the available original members of Rose Tattoo reformed to tour nationally with The Angels on the All Hell Breaks Loose Tour.
Whichever way you look at it Angry Anderson is an extraordinary human being - tireless, passionate, outspoken and humble. There is simply no-one like him.
In August 2006, Rose Tattoo inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Jet peformance 'We Can Be Beatin' a special tribute to the band.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHALLENGE
* The starting date of the Challenge was Australia Day (Jan 26) 1994 with the lavish and educational recreational facility for the Deaf and Blind school at Sydney's North Rocks.
* Three months later the Challenge set about saving the embattled Spina Biffida Association of QLD by staging the biggest concert ever seen in Australia. The concert featured Olivia Newton-John performing for the first time in 4 years.
* The third challenge was a national feed drive to help the farmers suffering from drought egged on by Ray Martin and Farmhand. The Challenge organised the 'Challenge Drought Express' a train laden with hundreds of tonnes of fodder from the lush Victorian countryside.
* Next was the respite care facility for AIDS and HIV infected kids of Australia requested by Sydney mother of nine Jo Newman.
* Then with the Starlight Foundation the Challenge organised for four sick kids and their families to visit Disneyland and have their various wishes fulfilled.
* The sixth Challenge was to deliver thousands of Xmas presents to kids in the outback.
* The seventh Challenge involved raising over $300,000 for Childflight, a helicopter rescue service for desperately ill children who need urgent transport to a major hospital. If we hadn't raised the money the service would no longer exist.
* The next Challenge which aired on Friday the 12th May 1995 was a Mother's Day Special where the Challenge provided a special lunch and presents for the forgotten ladies of Adelaide's Resthaven Nursing Homes.
* In January 1996, Angry and other celebrities travelled to Papua New Guinea to revisit and trek the Kokoda Trail.
* A return to Kokoda Challenge was produced late in June, 1996. Angry and Collette Mann returned to transport Kennedy, a young boy suffering from severe club feet back to Melbourne to receive corrective medical treatment.
* In April, 1997 Angry and the team undertook another Challenge, to build a Police Boys Youth Centre in Tamworth. The centre aims to provide recreational facilities to the youth population of Tamworth hence reducing potential social and behavioural youth problems.
* The final Challenge screened in April 1998 and featured Angry flying to Cambodia to deliver artificial limbs to victims of land mines.
* In May 2007, Angry Anderson challenge for Dunn Lewis Youth Development Foundation Bali Memorial Complex was screened on TodayTonight.
(Stuart Coupe and Jacinta Donnithorne composed this document. The copyright is held by Rose Tattoo Pty Ltd.)