‘Father of Modern Tattooing’ Lyle Tuttle Dead at 87
Lyle Tuttle, the "father of modern tattooing," died yesterday (March 26) at the age of 87. The San Francisco artist was known as one of the pioneers of American modern tattoos and has worked with rock icons like Janis Joplin and the Allman Brothers.
A statement on his Instagram reads, "We are heartbroken to communicate that our beloved friend Lyle passed away peacefully last night...He will always be our favorite tattooed prince. He lifted us with the magic in his soul and his bright spirit across oceans, time and space." Read the full statement below.
Tuttle got his first tattoo at age 14 when he was visiting San Francisco and began tattooing four years later in 1949. As of his death, he had 95% of his body tattooed. In addition to Joplin and the Allman Brothers, he tattooed other prominent musicians like KISS's Paul Stanley, Cher, Joan Baez, actor Henry Fonda and singer/songwriter Jim Croce throughout his career.
Joplin was known for being the first celebrity with a visible tattoo. She claimed that the symbol, to her, stood for the liberation of women. Tuttle told Prick Magazine in 2011 that women were responsible for the resurgence in tattooing. "One hundred percent women's liberation! That put tattooing back on the map. With women getting a new found freedom, they could get tattooed if they so desired. It increased and opened the market by 50% of the population - half of the human race! For three years, I tattooed almost nothing but women...The women made tattooing a softer and kinder art form."
As quoted on his website, Tuttle once explained his love and passion for tattoos: "Tattoos are travel marks, stickers on your luggage. Tattoos are special, you have to go off and earn them. You can go into a jewelry store and buy a big diamond and slip it on your finger and walk out. It's not like that when you go into a tattoo shop and pick a big tattoo and pay for it. Now you got to sit down and take it."
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