Baxter's Blog


Posted in Human Interest by misterroadtripper on July 14, 2010


Learning to play guitar is much like learning to tattoo: you need talented role models. To a tattoo artist, that means following in the footsteps of innovators like Sailor Jerry Collins, Don Ed Hardy, Bob Roberts and, contemporarily, Filip Leu, Paul Booth and Bob Tyrrell. For a then-fifteen-year-old rocker named Nick Perri, the role models were guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Angus Young (AC/DC), David Gilmore (Pink Floyd) and, of course, his major inspiration, guitar legend Les Paul (who invited Perri to play with him not once but twice at Paul’s weekly gig at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City).

As lead guitarist for Silvertide  from 2001-2006, Perri joined and played with Florida’s platinum-selling rock band Shinedown from 2008 to 2009. Nick shared with us the significance of tattoos in his personal life. “It’s my off-stage passion,” he says. “I started getting inked when I was sixteen. That was about the time I dropped out of high school and signed with a major record label.”

Turned on to rock ’n’ roll by his auntie/godmother when he was twelve (she slipped him Pearl Jam and AC/DC records under the dinner table at Thanksgiving), Nick ended up signing a record deal, led Shinedown (who had already logged twelve number-one hits in a row) and toured for seven years on the road with some of the biggest names in the industry. With a bio that lists dozens of endorsements from equipment manufacturers Gibson, Fender, Gretch, GHS strings, Naylor and Hiwatt amplifiers, to mention just a smattering, Nick has shared the stage with everyone from Mötley Crüe to Stone Temple Pilots, Van Halen to Pearl Jam and ZZ Top. Alice in Chains, Alicia Keys, Iggy Pop, Amy Winehouse, Kings of Leon, Metallica, Aerosmith—the list goes on and on. Plus he’s appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the M. Night Shyamalan movie Lady in the Water and, after performing with him onstage, had Les Paul autograph his ribcage, which Nick lovingly made permanent.

“After Les Paul signed his name on my chest, I immediately contacted my tattoo artist, Reverend Mike at Tattoo Addiction in Hatboro, so he could ink over the signature. But he was out of town, so I taped a piece of Saran Wrap over it and didn’t shower for ten days. But we finally met up and got it done. Everyone, anybody who plays guitar or records owes a debt of gratitude to Les Paul,” emphasizes Nick, who plays his idol’s model Gibson onstage. And when it comes to body art, the Les Paul signature is his favorite tattoo.

Perri left Shinedown in 2006, moved from Los Angeles, struck out on his own and is currently forming a new band based in Philadelphia. “It’s all about focusing my energy,” he says. “There is an element to success that cannot be defined by words or specific actions. Some people call it the X-factor. That’s what I’m looking for, and that’s what I know I will find on this journey back to my roots.” This journey, by the way, includes a clothing line, jewelry and musical instruments, all under his Perri Ink, LLC brand, a company whose offices remain in L.A.

Reaching out, expanding, pursuing his addiction to art: sounds like the life of a tattoo artist, but then, music and art have a definite creative connection. Both are self-expression, both are a way to communicate inner thoughts and feelings. And most of all, having tattoos says something about who Nick Perri ( really is; something that people with ink recognize as a connection, a brother- and sisterhood that is shared by all of us who have pictures of our fantasies, our truths and our heroes forever etched into our skin.

—Bob Baxter

Artist: Adam Daniel, 264 Customs, Los Angeles, California.

Pink Floyd in mid-back, arm sleeves. hands and knuckles, F.T.N. on abdomen, Pyramid and sun on side.

Artist: Rev. Mike, Tattoo Addiction, Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

Swan Song on upper back, skull chestpiece, skull with wings on chest, leg sleeve and Les Paul signature.

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