Clash Bassist Paul Simonon Launches Sailor Jerry Collection

by Harry Sheff

Former Clash bassist Paul Simonon has collaborated with Sailor Jerry Clothing on a three-piece collection.

Sailor Jerry Clothing is based around the tattoo designs of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who ran a now legendary tattoo parlor in Honolulu until his death in 1973. The clothing line launched in 1999, followed by a Sailor Jerry spiced rum.

Simonon collection

The Flash Collection by Paul Simonon features “flash” (the designs for tattoos that are first drawn on paper) created by the musician and heavily influenced by the Sailor Jerry archive. Skulls, mermaids, anchors and other classic motifs are printed on a T-shirt (two designs each at $50 retail), a bandana ($30) and a leather jacket ($2,300).

The hand-distressed sheep leather jacket, made by Lewis Leathers, will be offered as a limited edition of only 50. The design is one Simonon has worn since his days with The Clash. The shirts are in an edition of 500 and the bandanas are an edition of 1,000.

Simonon drawing

“Norman Collins’s flash art reminds me of folk art, and in some way when you look at the images close up … they’re almost like stained-glass windows,” says Simonon in a video. “It’s the sort of thing you can imagine almost being painted on a narrow boat. So for me it’s a natural thing to be drawn to, folk art, as something that’s quite simple and effective.”

Sailor Jerry was born in 1911 in Reno. He set up shop in Hawaii in the 1930s after serving in the Navy and helped shape the future of American tattoo culture through innovations like his trademark purple ink and hygienic practices. His line-drawing style and nautical themes influences generations of tattoo artists, including Don Ed Hardy.

Bassist Paul Simonon, 57, was an original member of the London punk band The Clash. He started out as an artist but guitarist Mick Jones asked him to join The Clash in 1976. The band broke up in 1986. He later joined Jones in Damon Albarn’s band Gorillaz. Simonon continued to paint throughout his musical career.