Sailor Jerry was originally from Ukiah, California, but through his travels around the world eventually landed in Honolulu, Hawaii. There, through continually pushing himself to improve his eye and hone his artistic skills, he created a fusion of styles that blended the best of both traditional Japanese and American tattooing, the likes of which the world has never seen before. It was his strong style and originality that brought the attention of good friends Michael Malone and Ed Hardy to come to Hawaii and work with Jerry, where they learned to expand their tattooing abilities. Jerry was happy to teach such skilled and eager artists, as he saw them both as ‘torpedoes’ who would go back to the mainland and sink the plethora of what Jerry felt were unskilled tattooists who didn’t have the heart it takes to commit one’s self to his beloved art.
Unfortunately, in 1973 Sailor Jerry passed away from a heart attack. He left instructions for his wife to sell his shop to one of his prodigies. Mike Malone took the challenge, and moved from his spot at Zeke Owens’ Ace Tattoo in San Diego, California where he was working at the time, and plunged into the historical depths of Jerry’s old shop at 1033 Smith St. in Honolulu’s historic Chinatown district.
Written by Doug Hardy