Big John Bates: My First Tattoo’s

I’m Big John Bates & I got my first ink in 1984 when I was in Annihilator – the bassist and I got inked in a basement apartment in Val D’Or, QC on a dare – needles thru a Bic pen and some kind of toy motor. It was a rose that looked more like a palm tree with an initial in it. That got covered by the “moon is made of green cheese” piece on my right arm at Isis in Montreal in the late 80’s. I keep adding to both arms (I guess you’d call them half-sleeves) while on tour in Europe and North America. As you can see I mainly go for a style that is part traditional and part cartoon with all of the images linked to my life or philosophies.

The images are mainly original, under the moon on my right arm there’s a skeleton rocker playing a Gretsch – an alteration from the cover of Rockabilly Psychosis and the Garage Disease album. The desert island, waves, tiki, bottles and erupting volcano around the guitarist are all about my personality and were done in Wilhelmshaven, Germany by a guy who didn’t speak a word of English – just German and Russian. We had a hell of a time communicating it all to him but he did exactly what I wanted.

Anyway the rocker himself was done by Isis in Montreal, as was the gothabilly girl, on my left arm. She came from Ottawa, a strange story too long to tell. The frame around her was done in Munster, Germany around 2003 and the spider-webbing inside was by Bryan Glatiotis at Dark Day in Vancouver (Main & 30th). Bryan is a close friend of mine and he’s working on my next piece – a ship made out of a stone castle for my right forearm. He also completed the compass rose on the inside of my right wrist (to keep me going in the right direction and because I live on the ocean). It was initially done in brown ink in Hamburg but it was shite so Bryan fixed the wreck in black. Brandy has the matching tattoo on her left wrist.


Everyone in Vancouver, BC, Canada – Catch Big John Bates playing Friday, December 23rd Big John Bates with guest DB Buxton

Doors at 8:00pm / Tickets $13.00 (+ service charges) in advance at Champion Jack’s, The Biltmore, Red Cat, Zulu

Tickets online at:


C: (604) 729-4161
Also find us on Facebook, MySpace & Reverbnation.
Big John Bates is proud to support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society!
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