Ian Rilen, a founding member and bassist of some of Australia’s loudest and most uncompromising bands — Rose Tattoo, X, Sardine V, Hell To Pay, and Love Addicts — died yesterday (Oct. 30) after a lengthy battle with bowel cancer. He was 57.
Rilen formed Rose Tattoo in 1976 with slide guitarist Peter Wells, who died of cancer in March. His original vision for the blues-metal band was inspired by the Stanley Kubrick movie “A Clockwork Orange” — the band was styled with bright orange hair, tattoos and shaved eyebrows. He and Wells wrote Rose Tattoo’s signature tune “Bad Boy For Love”, a Top 10 hit in Australia through Albert Productions.
Although Rose Tattoo were at the time, the noisiest band in Australia, Rilen left 12 months later declaring they were not “hard enough”.
He went on to form X (no relation to the Los Angeles band), which played with such ferocity they were banned by many venues. The band’s three albums “X-Aspirations” (X Records, 1980), “At Home With You” (Major, 1985) and “And More” (White, 1989) are regarded as the most brutal of Aussie punk releases.
After being diagnosed with the cancer, he continued to play for a further 12 months with the Love Addicts. “Don’t ask me about the cancer, just enjoy the music,” he said in a newspaper interview in June.
“He’s a national treasure”, Cold Chisel keyboard player and songwriter Don Walker declared at a benefit concert for Rilen held last month at Melbourne’s Prince of Wales club.
The event — which featured Rose Tattoo, the Hoodoo Gurus, Beasts Of Bourbon and the Divinyl’s Chrissie Amphlett — raised A$40,000 ($30,400) for his medical bills. The money will now be donated to Rilen’s four children.