Vail, CO – “The Taylor Tattoo” – March 8, 1999

We’ve got STICKERS people!!!!!

This little symbol represents the sun, the moon, and the ocean and my aunt, Kate Taylor, created it when she was only 16. Little did she know then it would come to symbolize the whole Taylor family and brand generations of our lineage. Here’s how it happened.

Kate, 16, was doodling with a pal and came up with the circular image you see here. She got her heart set on getting the symbol tattooed on her earlobe. On a trip to visit my dad in London, fresh off the plane, she announced her intention, holding her napkin doodle up to my 19-year-old dad’s icy blue eyes for inspection. My dad, new to London, had just scored the ultimate honor; a record deal with The Beatles’s record label, Apple Records, as its first non-Beatle artist. He was in London to record his first solo album and though he was new to the area, he told sister Kate he’d heard about a guy in the English countryside who inked tattoos on musicians. Kate spent the better part of her visit begging my dad to drive her there.

Photo Credit: Peter Simon

On a rainy afternoon, after a long drive past electric green fields peppered with clouds of sheep, Dad and Kate found their body artist stationed in a makeshift tent. “The guy was covered head to foot in tattoos,” my dad recalled years later “and his wife had a dotted line across her neck with the words “cut here” scribed below it.” Dad slid his finger across his throat with an incredulous, ‘Those were the good ol’ days’ smile spreading across his face.

Unphased by the artist’s severe and ominous-looking work, Kate showed the man her drawing and requested it etched on her earlobe.

“Yer two married?” asked the tattooed man in an almost indecipherable West Country accent.

“What? No. Married? No. This is my brother,” blustered Kate. My dad pronounced his chin and raised his brow in agreement.

“I don’t tattoos unmarried women ‘bove the neck, I don’t. Don’t want any future husbands comin t’get me if yar knew.”

Thinking fast Kate amended her request. “What about on the top of my foot?”

“How old are ya then?” The man continued his inquiry “I don’t put marks on anyone under 18 so.” Kate was devastated. “But you have to,” she cried “This symbol is our family sign,” she lied. The man considered his two patrons as rain dripped from a hole in the roof of the tent and his silent wife organized needles on a table missing a leg. “Alright my lover,” said the man, “if it’s your family sign then your brother’s gettin’ it too.”

And that’s the legend of our family tattoo. My dad walked out of the tent that day with his sister Kate’s sun, moon, and sea branded on his right shoulder and Kate walked hers out on the top of her left foot. The rest of their siblings followed suit in the years that followed. I got mine in Newport, Rhode Island the day I turned 18 driving there in my own rainstorm. It hangs in the sky of my upper back. To me it represents my family having my back and G.O.D: the Great Out Doors. It represents who I am at my core: strength, integrity, stability and truth.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Vail, CO – “The Taylor Tattoo” – March 8, 1999”

  1. Hi again, Sally!

    Love the extended version of this story! Had only heard the abridged version via your dad’s interviews. It’s such a cool image – simple and filled with significance for your island tribe. (I still find your family’s multigenerational love for MV both incredible and magical).

    Let’s suppose the “Frozen Man” story someday becomes a scientific possibility! How cool if thaw out members of your family and discover the symbol!

    Thanks again for sharing!

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