Jelly Roll Says He Regrets 98% Of His Tattoos

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Jelly Roll’s appearance is not what you would expect from a country artist

From rapper to country star, convict to CMA Award winner, Jelly Roll’s journey to musical success has been anything but conventional. The singer, whose legal name is Jason DeFord, speaks openly about his past, and how the mistakes he made in his younger years shaped the person he is today.

Instead of donning pearl snaps and cowboy hats, as many might expect from a country star, Jelly Roll opts for a mostly black and baggy wardrobe and has an extensive collection of tattoos, extending down to his fingers and up onto his face.

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Jelly Roll shares the good, bad, and funny stories behind his tattoos

The “Need A Favor” singer recently sat down with GQ to give a tour of his ink. True to his transparent self, he admits:

“I regret 98 percent of these tattoos, 97 percent. Almost all of them!”

Jelly Roll inked his skin for the first time at the age of 14 when he got a cross on his shoulder in memory of a woman in his town who had died from AIDS.

Many of the musician’s tattoos are coverups of body art that he says were the “really bad ones.” He points out a tattoo of the Nashville skyline on the back of his neck and reveals that it covered up a previous tattoo that was intended to read “surviving the struggle.” Only, the artist had left out a “t” leaving the end result to read “surviving the sruggle.”

A photo of Jelly Roll, who does not go by his true first name onstage
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Jelly Roll’s most meaningful tattoo is a cross on his face

The former rapper has many tattoos across his face, and surprisingly, one of them is what he describes as his most meaningful tattoo. He shares that the cross displayed on his right cheek was “symbolic of new beginning.” He adds:

“Understanding that I need to bear my own cross, I need to carry my own cross as the Good Book says. So that was kind of a constant reminder.”

Jelly Roll got many of his tattoos while he was incarcerated

The Tennessee native, who spent various stints of time in jail for robbery and drug charges in his teen and young adult years, believes that there are many talented tattoo artists in jail but admits that he “could never afford one.” As a result, he had to go for the “cheap ones.”

Because Jelly Roll began getting tattoos in his teens, he expresses that many represent things he “rooted his life in” at 17, but are no longer an accurate depiction of his life at nearly 40 years old.

“Almost all my tattoos represent who I was, almost none of them represent who I am.”

Jelly Roll shares many more stories behind his body art – see the full tattoo tour with GQ in the video below! 

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