Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.
Pete Wells, slide guitarist and one of the founders of Australian power blues band Rose Tattoo, died in a Sydney hospital early yesterday morning (March 27). He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 and had spent the last five weeks in hospital. According to friends, he was due to turn 60 this year.
Wells emerged in 1966 playing bass in Brisbane blues band Head. He moved to Sydney and joined heavy metal band Buffalo. The band’s “Volcanic Rock” was the first Australian metal album to go gold. They also scored an overseas deal with Vertigo.
In 1976 he switched to slide guitar and formed the seminal Rose Tattoo and went on to hire lead singer Angry Anderson. They became one of Australian’s main street outlaw bands and found a loyal following in the U.K., Germany and France.
They inspired U.S. bands such as Guns N’Roses, who covered their track “Nice Boys (Don’t Play Rock’n’Roll)”, Motley Crue and LA Guns.
Wells’ original concept for the band was for all the members to sport bright orange hair, tattoos, shaved eyebrows and all-black T-shirts and jeans.
Rose Tattoo’s self-titled debut album was released November 1978 on Albert Records. It became an instant classic, with tracks as “Rock’n’Roll Outlaw” and “Bad Boy For Love.”
Wells left Rose Tattoo in 1983 and rejoined them in 2000 for tours in Europe and for their 2002 album “Pain.”
Rose Tattoo's members paid tribute to Wells with the following posting on their official website: "Pete's music will live on for the inspiration of generations to come. RIP Pete Wells, a great musician, a rock'n'roll legend and most importantly, a great friend."
In between running a tattoo parlour called House Of Pain, he played in a series of hard punching bands as Illustrated Men, Scattered Aces, and Romeo’s Dog and with various outfits with his partner Lucy De Soto.
His five solo albums, including the Australian chart-breaking “Everything You Like Tries To Kill You” in 1991, out on Big Stars/Mushroom, showed his love for country blues and his whisky-soaked drawl.
Australian rockers including the Beasts of Bourbon, Paul Kelly and Tim Rogers staged benefit concerts for Wells in Sydney and Melbourne last September.
Australian rock historian Ian McFarlane described Wells as “a pivotal figure in the history of the Australian pub rock tradition.”
He is survived by his partner Lucy De Soto. A memorial service will be held in Sydney on Friday (March 31).