South Shields mum and son’s tattoo tribute to David Bowie

Stephen Sullivan's David Bowie tattoo.
Stephen Sullivan's David Bowie tattoo.

A mother and son have decided upon a lasting tribute to musical legend David Bowie.

After hearing of the singing star’s tragic death, Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie, from West Harton, South Shields, had Bowie-inspired tattoos inked on their skin forever.

The world-famous singer died, aged 69, on Sunday after a secret 18-month battle against cancer.

Stephen and Julie got their tattoos when the news broke on Monday at Body Art in Dean Road, South Shields.

Stephen, 29, had an outline of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane character tattooed on his forearm, with a black star underneath as a nod to the singer’s last album, Blackstar, released just days before his death.

His mum, Julie, had the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt inked behind her ear, along with the years that Bowie was born and died.

Stephen, an actor who has just finished starring in panto Alice in Wonderland at the Customs House, in South Shields, said: “We both actually decided separately to have them done. I was in bed when I heard the news and my mam was at work.

“She sent me a text saying she wanted to get a tattoo and asked if I knew anywhere that was open and I told her that I was in the middle of looking for somewhere I could go get one, so I met her after work and we went together.

“We had both talked about getting one for years and it was just the right time. He’s been a massive part of both our lives.

“From being little, my mam has always played his music and I was introduced to Labyrinth at a young age and was just in awe of this person.

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie with David Bowie tribute act Ed Blaney at the Customs House, South Shields, last year.

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie with David Bowie tribute act Ed Blaney at the Customs House, South Shields, last year.

“I think listening to his music, watching his films and seeing the images of him helped us become flamboyant and creative people.”

Stephen added: “My mam never really grew out of it. She still has bright orange hair like he had and he’s a big influence on her fashion and her appearance.

“Bowie gave me the inspiration to be other people, he constantly reinvented himself and that’s what made me want to be an actor.

“It was quite sad to see it when I woke up in the morning and remembered that he’d died, but all of that influence he had and the music he created will live on forever.”

We had both talked about getting one for years and it was just the right time. He’s been a massive part of both our lives.

Stephen Sullivan

Barmaid Julie, 52, said: “I’m amazingly happy that I got the tattoo, and it had to be on Monday, another day wouldn’t have been good enough. It kind of made it real for me.

“He’s had a massive influence on me and I love everything about him.”

Neil Sims, owner of Body Art tattoo studio, said more and more people are having artists they love inked permanently onto their skin.

He said: “When someone like David Bowie dies, the die-hard fans want it done there and then, they don’t want to wait.

“We got them into the studio and they really did know everything about him and getting a tattoo for some people is the ultimate tribute.

“More and more people are getting portraiture of people’s faces tattooed on them these days. People are so dedicated to the things they love and they’ll show it.”

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie made a lasting tribute to David Bowie by getting a tattoo. Stephen had an image of Bowie's Aladdin Sane character on his forearm, along with a black star as a nod to the star's last album, released just days before he died.

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie made a lasting tribute to David Bowie by getting a tattoo. Stephen had an image of Bowie's Aladdin Sane character on his forearm, along with a black star as a nod to the star's last album, released just days before he died.

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie made a lasting tribute to David Bowie by getting a tattoo. Julie had an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt, along with the years Bowie was born and died, tattooed behind her ear.

Stephen Sullivan and his mum Julie made a lasting tribute to David Bowie by getting a tattoo. Julie had an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt, along with the years Bowie was born and died, tattooed behind her ear.

Bowie's Aladdin Sane.

Bowie's Aladdin Sane.

Stephen Sullivan's David Bowie tattoo.

Stephen Sullivan's David Bowie tattoo.

Bowie's Aladdin Sane.

Bowie's Aladdin Sane.