When Sailor Jerry passed away in 1973, he had left specific instructions with his wife about the fate of his tattoo shop and, in turn, his legacy.
According to Mike Malone, Jerry said it was to be offered to each of his three protégés: Mike Malone, Don Ed Hardy, or Zeke Owen. If those men didn’t heed the call, then the shop and all the master’s artwork was to be burnt to ashes – no questions asked.
Fortunately, Mike Malone answered the call. After reaching an agreement with Jerry’s wife, money changed hands, and Mike purchased Jerry’s artwork, flash collection and Smith Street shop, keeping the legacy of Sailor Jerry alive for a whole new generation of roughnecks and adventurers who roamed the wild streets of Honolulu’s Chinatown.
As a pop resurgence of tattoo art began in the early 1980’s, Mike partnered with fellow Jerry protégé, Don Ed Hardy, and began releasing books of Jerry’s historical tattoo flash. Soon, walls in tattoo shops around the world were adorned with the Master’s now infamous, bold-line, Americana artwork.
And that’s where Sailor Jerry Limited comes in. Over a decade ago, a small bunch of us started the company because we were, and always will be, fans of Jerry’s work. We thought the world should see more of it – and not just tattooed on our chests or arms! With the blessing of Malone and Hardy, we set out to craft a high quality line of clothing and accessories that Jerry would definitely not frown on. Slowly but surely, things took off.
Eventually we found ourselves linking up with another family company, William Grant & Sons, to create a rum based on a traditional seafaring recipe. Spiced and smooth at 92 proof. Thus, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum was born, crafted to the same high standards Jerry put into his own work.
Needless to say, we developed quite a following. So much so, that it all became a bit too big for us to handle! So, in late 2008, William Grant & Sons outright purchased Sailor Jerry Limited. Now don’t get us wrong, it’s still the same group of original people here in Philadelphia, just now we have the support to really spread the word and ensure that Jerry’s legacy will continue to grow in trusted, concerned hands.