Anthony Kiedis with no tattoos

Anthony Kiedis has 10 (visible) tattoos:

1. Bird on back
2. An Indian chief at the top of each arm
3. A band on each arm
4. A dagger on each arm.
5. A tiger on the inside of his right arm
6. A koi carp (and flower) on the inside of his left arm.
7. The Chili asterisk/star of infinity.

The majority of Anthony’s tattoos are in black ink although the two inner arm ones are coloured; his tattoos are symmetrical in layout with balanced, but not completely identical, designs on either arm. Many of the designs reflect aspects of his life most noticeably his North American heritage (on his maternal side). Several of his tattoos were drawn by, Henky Penky (real name Henk Schiffmacher), a tattooist based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, who is famous for his work on rock n’ roll icons.

Picture showing coloured tattoos:

Anthony’s first tattoo was of Chief Sitting Bull on his upper right arm:

His second was of Chief Joseph on the opposite side:

His famous back tattoo that stretches across his entire back was done in the 1980s:

There are various online interpretations as to the origin of the design. The most common views are that it is of an Inca/Aztec falcon but some people claim it is a Haida thunder bird. Hank Schiffmacher began work on the tattoo in February 1988 while the Peppers where in Amsterdam on tour; it was completed over a course of 18 months when Anthony happened to be in the city.

 “On our visits to Amsterdam, I had befriended an amazing tattoo artist named Hank Schiffmacher. Hank, also known as Henky Penky, was an icon of his country-an underground philosopher, artist, Hell’s Angel associate, booze hound, drug hound, girl hound, an absolute rapscallion of Dutch proportions. Over the years, Hank had injected much ink into my skin, and in the process, we’d become close.”

‘Scar Tissue’ Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman; page 303

“On that first trip to Holland (around the Pink Pop Festival dates in Finland), however, Kiedis was preparing to endure the fist pricks of the enormous cubic Indian totem image that would eventually engulf his back. Schiffmacher told him it would be the work of many visits, each one time-consuming (up to six hours at a time) and also very painful. Kiedis replied, jokingly, that given his own schedule, it would also take several years.”  

Red Hot Chili Peppers By The Way: The Biography by Dave Thompson; page 120-1


During the 1990s a bold band was added underneath each Indian chief:

Close up detail of (broken?) heart:

Celtic Daggers completed the symmetry:

A tiger was added in 2001:

“A tiger, added in 2001, was to help him get over the pain of creaking up with his girlfriend, and represents both his Chinese birth sign and the Thai tradition of tigers bringing longevity and protection to the wearer- and he enjoys adding the detail that he is Tony the Tiger, the cartoon cat from the Kellogg’s Frosties add.”

‘Inside the Veins of the Velvet Groove’ by Martin Roach

The koi carp was the final addition and was added in around 2006:

    “He obligingly reveals the latest tattoo on his famously inked-up body: a beautifully rendered koi fish on his forearm. It’s a symbol of overcoming adversity,” he says. “Of swimming up current, so to speak.”  Blender 2007 interview


The smallest tattoo is perhaps most significant for RHCP fans as it is of the band’s asterisk logo

 Edit: Just scanned this magazine which mentions Kiedis having his back tattoo being worked on; read HERE

Please note: I have tried to make this information as accurate as possible but gathering anything other than photos of the tattoos was really hard. If you have any additional information, or want to point out any mistakes, please contact me and I’ll rectify this article. Thank you!


65 Responses to Tattoos

  1. Stan says:

    Hi. I was just wondering if you could tell me who got their asterisk tattoo first: Anthony or John Frusciante. I always thought it was John, he has had a huge influence on my life through his music, and have thought about getting the tattoo. If you could let me know it would be hugely appreciated.

  2. admin says:

    I can’t find anything definite; sorry. I’m assuming it’s Anthony. Have just scanned an article (was hanging on for it to see what it said exactly) and added a link to the article but it’s vague. I think it was Flea first, and then AK- remember reading something about it once but can’t remember where. I’ll update if ever I find it… but it’s THINK; sorry don’t know for sure. I have one other person to ask so I’ll see if they know any more.

  3. CB says:

    Does anyone know what his left arm bicep means ( the heart / broken heart ). It’s super nice : )

  4. admin says:

    I’ve never read anything as to it’s meaning; I don’t know if anyone else has? I read somewhere that the bands were designed to fit in with the other tattoos and be symmetrical but nothing as to why the Fleur de Lys and the broken heart were incorporated into them.

  5. CB says:

    Damn ! No one seems to know , and I’m really considering getting it , I love the design and have major respect for AK. It may say it in scar-tissue , will have to give that a read!

    • admin says:

      I’ve re-read Scar Tissue in detail recently and I’ve seen nothing in it; was looking for info for the articles on this site so I would have quoted it if there was anything about the tattoos. When I get a few minutes, I will look through some of my other RHCP books- one has got a bit about tattoos in it (there’s the quote in this article. I copied that when I wrote the first version of this tatto article for another website a couple of years ago; I haven’t read the book since so there may be more in it). The other place where there might be info, is in the magazine articles. I haven’t used them for info (yet! Reading them all and taking quotes/info from them is on my loooong list of things to do!) But it might be worth having a glance at them – are even more on my other website ! If I ever find anything, I will update this. It’s a really cool design! :D

  6. CB says:

    Thank you , it sounds like you have a real passion for the chili’s. I will keep searching also. Looking forward to the new album and interviews to follow! If only we could ring him up eh !

  7. Layla says:

    I Love Anthony’s tattoo,especially the Totem..but he doesen’t have earrings?

  8. Derek says:

    I do believe that in Oral/Visual it is mentioned somewhere about the asterisk tat… if it was not there, then in the 1993 book Red Hot Chili Peppers by Dave Thompson. I read them both nearly back to back. The only other place I may have seen something on it was Me and My Friends, but I am doubting that.

  9. I would be interested to know if Tone has a small Ant tattoo on one of his arms. My brother tells a story of spending time with him in singapore on a Chili’s tour some years ago. The tattoo was done in about 20 minutes by Singapore Tattooist Tommy Two Thumbs. Love to get picture/confirmation of that.

    • admin says:

      Never heard of it or seen it but I’m going to check that one out for you; give me a couple of days and I’ll see what I can find out.

      • admin says:

        I’ve asked my two AK experts and both are saying they know nothing about such a tattoo and there’s nothing on any photo, I or they, have ever seen.

  10. Billy Ford says:

    Does anyone know who’s asterisk is on the back of the bssm album, and what colour it is, cause wherever I look people say black, but on the album sleeve it doesn’t look like a full on black, it looks kinda faded, which is the effect grey ink gives (my girlfriend had a tattoo with grey ink), I really like the one on the back of the bssm album cover, it’s the perfect size (a lot of people have it done too big in my opinion) and as I said, I prefer the shade over a jet black colour, thanks.

  11. Billy Ford says:

    Haha, thank you so much! I think I’ll probably go for the same shape and size as AK’s then, but in a grey colour. I just love exactly how it looks on the BSSM album cover!

  12. Eva says:

    i’m really sorry,this is my last question!didn’t he wear an earring ?or does he not like earrings?Thank you so much!!!

    • admin says:

      No he doesn’t wear an earring; have never seen any evidence of him with one and I’ve just asked my AK expert – according to his mother Peggy has mentioned him wearing one as a child but there is no photo of that and he’s never been seen in one since. Hope that helps! And feel free to answer all of the questions you like; sorry it’s taking me a while to answer them but real life has been getting in the way :( )

  13. Eva says:

    Thanks!:)Your answer is very clear!Could it be a question of look?Does He prefer himself without?

  14. rene says:

    cool tatto

  15. Ana Onghero says:

    Cara mais foda do mundo ! RHCP

  16. johnF says:

    hey! look I live in Mexico, and I´ve been looking for the Scar-tissue book for years!! can you tell me where I can find it in Mexico please!!?? thanks

  17. Erin Floyd says:

    I’m wondering what his affiliation is with Chief Sitting Bull and Chief Joseph if any.

  18. Matheus Dutra says:

    Man, I’d just like to say thank you! Handsome website! Congrats

  19. will langford says:

    i love Anthony and his tattoos but i wish he would have never cut his hair and grew out his mustache.

  20. Miley says:

    Like his back tattoo!

  21. mari daz says:

    hai sos hermosos esos tatuajes !!=)

  22. gloriia says:

    please could put more tattoos anthony ??? please respond… :D

  23. gloriia says:

    please put more tattoos anthony

  24. Nairia says:

    What kind of earring he worn when he was a kid?Please!
    Someone just tell me that he likes indian’s earring,but i don’t think so!


  25. J says:

    Hey thanks for the site! Any idea who took the back tat you posted (5th down) of Anthony or where I could get a high res image? Any help would be hugely appreciated!!!

  26. Sunny says:

    Hey! I was just wondering about his asterisk tattoo, roughly how big would you say it is? I’m think of getting one done when I am older:)

  27. john strickland says:

    hi anthony , i was wondering what the fore arm ( celtic daggers ) represent as i am having them done myslef next week , so when people ask why then i can say , i noticed on a site they said love underneath the picture , so are they for that,
    many thanks john

  28. Nairia says:

    Does Anthony Kiedis hate wear an earring?

  29. Nairia says:

    I love him too much but i’m really curious about this! Thank you admin,you’re great!

  30. cg says:

    What is the tatt that most defines AK as im getting tatt to represent each of my kids n one of them was named Kiedis as a tribute to him and the band.

  31. Dino says:

    Hi there. 3 years before the doctors discovered a tumor on my leg. So at the age of 17, i lost half of my left leg. i was 5 months in hospital. I had there only my phone, and on him was few songs of RHCP. They was my companions in that hard time. And to say Thank You , i made a tattoo few days ago. The same heart that AK have on his left arm. Its made to say Thank You !!! I love your songs. One day i buy a guitar, and the 1st thing i want to play is Under the Bridge, after that i can die in peace :D

  32. Oscar Myers says:

    I was just wondering if you have an original image of the inca bird that Anthony got

  33. Charlotte says:

    I read something that he may be Mohawk? Though the article said “Mohican” which isn’t really a tribe. Mohegan is, Mohawk is Mohawk, of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. So it’s a little confusing he has a NW Coastal on his back, and Chief Joseph (Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce), a plateau tribe. Awesome, but, a bit confusing. I guess if one were honouring their heritage, I’d figure they’d use something from their own nation.

  34. Luana Bandeira says:


  35. Hi! somebody knows places wher anthony get tatoos in USA? somewhere in NY or FLORIDA? specially the asterisk or the broken heart? Thanks!

  36. Karrina says:

    Hi guys, I am an Aussie Chilis fan. Heading to the states in a few months and keen to get the asterisk tattood on me while in LA. Does anyone know if Anthony used any LA tattooists to do any of his tatts? I would love to have mine done by someone who has done some work on AK. <3

  37. ZanyZephyr says:

    Hi.. I’m a huge fan of the peppers.. I would like to know who got the logo on the right inner wrist first? Does the 4 of you guys have it? I’ve got 1 & its red in color.. Hope u guys reply..

  38. JAC says:

    I have a Branded Garment leather jacket my brother gave to me in the 90′s. I still have this leather and it has Anthony’s tattoos embroidered on it in with turquoise thread. Any idea when these were released exactly? I think this is a pretty rare item cause I can not find any information on it at all.

  39. ismu widjaya says:

    I heard Anthony Kiedis travel to Borneo – Indonesia to make a tattoo, is this true?

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