Top 10 Best Rockstar Tattoos

Which musicians wears the best tattoos? Find out in this awesome new gallery of body art.

Ultimate Guitar

Rockstars have been graced in tattoos ever since the heady early days of rock. But with such fine ink heritage, there's a lot of competition for the best tattoo ever.

This week we asked Ultimate Guitar readers to nominate and vote for the best rock start tattoos ever. They didn't disappoint, and we've got a great gallery of rock tattoos for you.

Let us know which ones you love most in the comments. Think we've missed a few rock tattoos? Share a link in the comments, and remember to hit 'like' to share this rock tattoo gallery to your friends.

10. Henry Rollins

The former Black Flag singer graces a muscular back with a terrifying sun demon. Not as scary as when this fella shouts, mind.

9. A7X's The Rev

The late Rev put himself on Team Sullivan in this play on a sports top.

8. Axl Rose

Rose has re-inked his famous "Appetite for Destruction" tag over the years, from clean black lines to full colour. It's a surprise that he didn't simply scribble out his old enemy Slash from the drawing.

7. Brandon Boyd

Boyd has plenty of tattoos, but the red symbols on his arm have been an icon for the man ever since Incubus first emerged to the mainstream in the early 2000s.

6. Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy is a true old-school rock musician, with hand-drawn ink to spell his name on his fingers. Probably so that he can be identified when he gets lost, either from booze or old age.

5. Phil Anselmo

The "Cowboys From Hell" tattoo on his head is a firm favorite at Ultimate Guitar. It was once framed by his swinging mohawk, and the other side of his head is tattooed too.

4. Mastodon's Brent Hinds

A brave move from Brent here - the sharp arrows sear round his face like the edge of a warrior mask.

3. RATM's Tim Commerford

Never have we seen a fuller, more dense tattoo in the history of rock. His back is covered in a similar warrior-like pattern, with sleeves that end in a sharp line on his arm.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis

A native-american inspired tattoo spreads its wings across Kiedis' back. Funny how he looks almost scrawny in comparison to his modern muscular physique.

1. James Hetfield

It's official: Metallica frontman James Hetfield has the most popular tattoos in all of rock and metal. The fine detailing, variety of patterns and tones, and the sense of story telling that you get from decades of body art on one body make this the ultimate set of rock star tattoos.

Congratulation James, you've earned our award for best rock tattoos ever!

We'd love to hear which is your personal favorite. Got your own tattoo? Share a link in the comments, and hit 'like' to pass this article to other ink-loving fiends. Thanks!

111 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Axl's 1988 tattoo is a million times better than the reworks it's had.
    GnR in 1988 were a million times better than the reworks they've had
    It's not rework - all tattoos become blurred over time. It's just demonstration of a process.
    He did coloured it, thus reworking some lines. After becoming blurry, it needs rework.
    "The late Rev put himself on Team Sullivan in this play on a sports top" Team name goes on the front, the back is always just the last name of the player. GAWHH. Bro, do you even spr0tz?
    it doesnt say team sullivan, it just says "Sullivan" Wich by the way is his last name. duhh
    Zacky also has one that says Vengeance on the back and is number 7.
    Yeah, it is supposed to look like a baseball jersey. Zacky could have been a major league baseball player if he wanted. Dude had skills on the field.
    Lol major league I would like what you are smoking. Maybe he could have made varsity on his high school team...just look at the videos of him taking BP on youtube. It's sad. Don't blow smoke out of your ass when it's not true, I know you are a A7x fanboy but don't lie.
    lol...well, I pretty much just paraphrased something said by M. Shadows in an interview once. Whether or not he was exaggerating I have no clue, but either way, take it easy.
    lolz, missed the comment point, in the description it says that "The late Rev put himself on Team Sullivan". Bro, do you even read?
    The commenter knows that it's his name. He's saying that the writer of the article doesn't know... You know what... Cool story bro.
    100% agreed on Brent and James. Didn't realize James has that many tattoos to be honest.
    im so confused as to how iv never noticed the jesus one on his arm
    James deserves the top spot for sure, but holy f**king s**t balls, Tim Commerford is a god for getting that done.
    The Brandon Boyd one is the only tattoo-style I would even consider ripping off (albeit in a totally drunk state). The rest of 'em... Ah dunno, it's probably 'cos of who they are that they can pull this off. Most people sporting large body tatoos just look trashy at best imho, especially once the ink starts to fade and the 'canvas' gets all wrinkled. I for one would hate to look like one of those "trying too hard to appear young" seniors (but then again I'm not nearly as cool as any of these guys)
    Newsflash: Nobody is going to be attracted to you when you're old and wrinkly anyway; so if you're inclined to get some ink because you like the way it would look now, don't let fear of what it will look like when you're old keep you from it. Besides, considering long-term effects in decision making is really important; but it's also important to consider short-term and middle-term.
    Guys, despite the anger and negativity that this start's out with, he's got a point. Some people don't want tattoo's because when you're old they'll be wrinkled and look like crap but so will your skin and no one walks around saying I don't want skin because it will wrinkle.
    Lol, anger and negativity I wasn't really talking about looking attractive (although for many people that seems to be an important reason to get some ink done in the first place) -> my point was more about perception of lifestyle You know how silly or even downright wrong it looks when a 12 year old girl tries to appear older by wearing overly revealing clothing? Well, old timers who still dress and act like they're in their early twenties (we've all seen 'em at rock concerts and festivals) will often provoke similar reactions, and tattoos are often a big part of that. If you're the kind of person who doesn't give a rats ass if all the young people at the gig are giggling at grandpa and his flabby tat-covered arms, then good for you. But people can and often do change, and what might've seemed like an awesome idea at any given time could end up feeling pretty foolish in the long run Check out at Hetfield for instance: he's had the long metal hair, pube moustache, buzz-cut mullet, trucker stache, then there was the "held up at the airport for looking like a heavy metal Al-Qaeda recruit"-period... Like most people going through their high school pictures, if he doesn't regret some of those looks there's still a good chance that if you ask him 'would you consider walking around like that again?' he'll go 'nah, I'll pass' I don't think the odds of him feeling like an idiot for getting some of his tattoos are all that big because A) he seems to have gotten a lot of 'em at an older age and not when he was sixteen, and B) he's in friggin' Metallica... But for a lot of people that's not the case I'll steer clear from the usual "if you tattoo your current girlfriend's name on your arse, you're gonna have a bad time"-talk, but you get the picture. Most of us aren't gonna have a career that includes rocking for a living till we're in the old folks home, so if you're the kind of person who regrets posting a comment on some chick's Facebook wall 5 seconds after leaving it there (like me) then full body tattoos might not be for you
    This list should've been named "10 most famous rockstar tattoos", it would've been a bit more relevant then.
    Where is Kerry King, Chris Adler, and Corey Taylor? Blow this up with Paul Booth's art
    I'm not a huge Kerry King fan, but you can't deny his tattoos are famous. All of his signature gear has tribal art all over it like his own tattoos. Every electric guitar magazine has an ad with him in there somewhere.
    I did miss Corey Taylor's chest tattoo, but Kerry King? Come on.. Tribal ain't cool!
    Hetfield does have some awesome tattoos, but im still surprised Matt Heafy's Japanese sleeves didnt make this list, but again its just personal tastes!
    Pretty sure that's not actually a picture of Anthony Keidis.
    That's either Anthony Keidis or someone who copied all of his tattoos exactly. As well as his hair. Not trying to pick on anyone, but UG does get a bad rap every once in a while and they don't deserve it here (I also quite love the chili peppers). People copy that back tattoo often, but the two tribal ones on his biceps and the two portraits on the shoulders, that's pure AK. The link the other fella listed just took me to a picture of a guy who had the firebird on his back and no other tattoos. Just sayin'. (Plus, that image shows up on "Anthony"...
    I have to admit i'm sad Bradly Nowells 'SUUBLIME' Tattoo didn't make it on the list, it's just so cool!
    Travis barker has some good ones, his Virgin Mary on the top of his head is sick- If he was in Tool, Queens of the Stone Age or some other band that UG and its readers were obsessed with, he would be at the top
    Yet no one from Tool or QoTSA are on here either.
    obviously you didnt get what i was saying
    What you said doesn't apply to this scenario, people voted not for either qotsa or tool members.
    This is true, and Maynard James Keenan has a badass tattoo of a spinal column going up his back. It shoulda been on here I think, tho at like #7 or 8.
    "Let's put Metallica in this list, not like we ever do that." As a collective, we have failed.
    At least QOTSA is not on it
    I'm sure Mike Portnoy has a tattoo somewhere. Shame that we don't hear about him every 5 mins any more. Possibly because he didn't do anything good after that A7x album and neither did A7x.
    Yeah Mike Portnoy just sucked after that stint in A7X.. aside from Flying Colors, Transatlantic and the Winery Dogs...
    Yeah Mike Portnoy just sucked after that stint in A7X.. aside from Flying Colors, Transatlantic and the Winery Dogs...
    link no1
    But Hetfield does have some great looking tattoos, and the explanations behind some of them are great.
    No Lenny Kravitz, Green Day or Blink 182 tats? Many other tats on famous rockers also come to mind, some of which are better then many of these top 10 ones.
    Bummed that Maynard didn't make the list...
    While some of these are more intricate, I like MJK's better than most of these. Its just a really cool looking tat, and it prolly hurt really bad to get it done lol
    The majority of the tattoo is a trampstamp...if it wasn't for the tail of the scorpion, that is exactly what it'd be. It's a bigger ho move than showering after work.
    Most of these tattoos aren't that great haha. I'm not a huge fan of all black or tribal tattoos so Tim Commerford's I think is awful there isn't much talent in all black and it looks bad in my opinion. I have a tattoo of Pink Floyd's The Wall screaming face and the Tool eye from Aenima and it's a lot better than any of these. I hate tooting my own horn but these guys have a lot of money so you'd think they would have better work.
    Your tattoo's aren't any better than any of those because yours is a copy and theirs are original.
    They may not be original but at least they are done better. The artwork is my tattoo artist's interpretations so in a way they are original.
    anthony kiedis's back tattoo is the most iconic rockstar tattoo imo.. 'coz he have it eversince, as far as i can remember james hetfield doesnt even have a single tattoo during the 80s..
    Umm... Motley Crue, anyone?
    That's what I was thinking tommy Lee and Nikki sixx should make the list. At least one person on it should be really covered in tattoos.
    im more proud of myself for not having some stupid ass tattoo on me than getting hooked on hard drugs or something like that. back in the day you had to earn a tattoo, now its completely unoriginal to even have one. "o you have a tattoo?, so your like everyone else?" "o u have a tribal tattoo? what tribe r u in?" it is more original to NOT have tattoos today which is why i choose not to have one. my friend got his whole back done which looks cool for 5 min. if your sixteen, but now it looks like hes wearing an ed hardy shirt for the rest of his life. i could go on and on about tattoos and tattoo culture but i'll b downvoted anyways so who cares
    I personally have always wanted Tattoo's but haven't found anything that I would permanently want on my body. I'm 30 now but when I was 15 I wanted a Limp Bizkit tattoo, imagine if I'd have went through with it. I realize now that you must really think before getting a tattoo.
    "I hate people who are proud of having tattoos so I'm proud of not having tattoos" the hypocrisy is strong in this one. And not everyone has the same tattoo as everyone else with a tattoo, if you're going to make a judgement about what you think is "tattoo culture" than at least educate yourself instead of making a really ****ing stupid generalization.
    dude, i get what youre trying to say, but please actually make sense when youre writing something- youre making all of us Christians look bad...
    Sully Erna.
    I'm sorry but he doesn't deserve to be even near this list....bellybutton tattoo, that's so lame. This is probably one time I hope you were trolling and not being serious
    Petey D
    Terrible list. Sooo many left off's! Travis Barker's ink is epic, and Mike Ness has a lot of stellar work, plus he was covered long before being covered was acceptable.