Don't act so surprised...
As we can fatefully attest, rock and roll and tattoos go hand in hand. The first time Rocks Off saw a grizzled punk rocker walk by at Fitzgerald's back in the '90s with two sleeves full of tattoos and a chest full of nautical-themed art, we mentally pointed at him and said "That's what we want", and from that day on we were hooked.
Since we started getting tattoos we have seen the world change in regards to how inked people are regarded. They were one or all the following: drug addicts, musicians, mechanics, or jailbirds. We remember a time when tattoo shops weren't huge magnificent buildings with buxom blondes working the front desk with a headset on, like on so many reality shows.
Sometimes the shops we frequented and still frequent don't even have a front desk. The soundtrack wasn't Buckcherry or Kings Of Leon; it was proto-sludge bands like Hawkwind or rock-steady ska in the vein of the Slackers. Also, not everyone has some horrific sob story surrounding each one of their ink spots, like the television would have you believe. There are times when a naked zombie girl straddling Death just looks cool on your arm.
Tomorrow night, Rocbar hosts a screening of the documentary on legendary tattoo pioneer Sailor Jerry. Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry
documents the life of the artist, through his days in the Navy and Merchant Marines, to perfecting tattooing in Hawaii and San Francisco. Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins was a cantankerous but loving man who practiced his craft with as much care as a surgeon would use on a heart or a pair of lungs. The man passed away in 1971, but not before imparting his wealth of knowledge and art to guys like Mike Malone and Ed Hardy.
Jerry's design work is more prevalent on punk rockers and rockabilly guys more than anyone else in the music business. It's extremely traditional and wholly patriotic work, dealing with military and romantic themes. His catalog of flash lends itself to the working-class ethos of the aforementioned sub-genres.
The longtime Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman has a number of Native American-inspired works on his arms, and a huge Aztec-style eagle on his back. RHCP bassist Flea also has quite an amount of work on his skin as well.
No one else but Henry Rollins can carry a Black Flag tattoo with as much impunity, fronting the band for over five years. His arms are a mash of Misfits and Black Flag logos, and he has a huge sun on his back topped with the words "Search & Destroy" as an homage to the classic Iggy & The Stooges track.
What better way to piss people off further than by getting a huge monument to your ongoing rock and roll sacrilege right on your chest, Mr. Durst? In 2003, the Limp Bizkit frontman appeared in public with a fresh portrait of Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley inked on his chest, and threatened to add Morrissey to the fold. Durst was formerly a tattoo artist before the Bizkit got massive, and he is said to still dabble every now and then with the ink gun.
Blink-182 drummer Barker has some of the most pretty and ornate tattoos in music. His work is a mix between old-school iconography and West Coast new-skool. The "Can I Say" across his chest refers to the 1986 Dag Nasty album of the same name.
Not to be outdone by a bunch of dirty rockers, rapper The Game got himself a huge "LA" on his face to symbolize his love his hometown. Later on he added a red star surrounding the letters. Fellow rap star Lil Wayne also has quite a body of work, which pretty much covers the entire surface of his small frame.
Punk legend Mike Ness arguably did the most to further the legend of Sailor Jerry through his tattoo collection. The Social Distortion frontman is covered in a mass of swallows, spiderwebs, pin-up gals and a huge hotrod across his stomach. He has been heard to tell interviewers that he started his tattoo journey in his early teens.
We aren't sure who this guy is, but we admire his can-do attitude and scorched-earth love affair with AC/DC, Kiss, Tesla... and Dangerous Toys? We're one to talk though. Our "Weird Al" Yankovic tattoo is a part of us till death and stands as a testament to his power and glory.
The screening of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry is 7 p.m. tonight at Rocbar, 530 Texas (Bayou Place), 713-236-1100 or www.rocbartx.com. Free admission, but RSVP to http://www.horismoku.com/houston_screening required.