How We Met: Ami James & Huey Morgan

‘He’s too nice, unfortunately, and a lot of people took advantage of that’

Huey Morgan, 44

After a stint as a US Marine, New York-born Morgan (right in picture) went on to front Fun Lovin' Criminals in 1993, scoring a string of hits including 'Scooby Snacks'. He lives in London with his wife and children, hosting music shows on BBC Radio 2 and 6

Ami was an up-and-coming tattoo artist at the time, in 1993, and I'd already heard his name when I met him in the Village [Greenwich Village, New York]. He was going to go tattoo a friend of mine, and we hit it off. Both of us came from a military background – we knew what it was to serve in uniform – and had this appreciation of art. He said, "Why don't you let me ink you up some time?"

I finally went down to his [tattoo] place about six years later and I had this cool idea of a dragon, so he drew it on my arm and chest – but it was a big job and we never finished it.

We've became close over the years, to the extent that we're like brothers from other mothers. He's a no-bullshit guy who says what he thinks – and I'm like that, too. He's solid.

I remember going out drinking about the time Miami Ink [a reality TV show based in James's tattoo shop] first hit, in 2005. He's a rock-star kind– an extrovert – it's what made the show so watchable, which also helped break down the stigma of tattoos being only for sailors, hobos and rock'n'roll musicians. So there were all these people going up to him and one night he goes, "I hate this shit!" And we all were just laughing, saying, "Dude, you know, you're going to get a lot of love. People are going to be all over you!"

He'd spend part of the year in Miami, but when he came up to New York and I was on tour with the Criminals, he'd stay in my house and take care of my dog. They had a long and great relationship; he used to sleep in bed with her – she liked the guys, that's how she rolled.

Recently we were talking on the phone about when we'd next hang out and he said, "I got to come over [to London] and finish up that tattoo." And then he was like, "I've got an idea to open a [tattoo] shop in London – want to get down with that and be partners?" We found a spot in Notting Hill and he came over the other day to finish my tattoo. Did he finish it? No. He actually did a tattoo of my dog Sugar, instead.

Ami James, 40

The Israeli-born tattoo artist moved to the United States at 11 years of age and his Love Hate Tattoo Studio was catapulted into the limelight in 2005 with the reality-TV show 'Miami Ink'. He lives in New York with his wife and children.

I met Huey at the peak of his career, while I was a nobody who was just beginning mine. I was walking down a street in New York, almost 20 years ago, when I bumped into a mutual friend who Huey was walking with. We hit it off right away as we were both ex-soldiers – I was fresh out [of the Israeli Army] and Huey had been in the Marines, so we started talking about what we'd both been through and it rolled into friendship.

It was the early 1990s and we'd go partying all night together and hang out five days a week – it was a good time. We never had to fight over "the prey", as we went for different women.

When you're famous, people want something from you all the time, and when I met him he was peaking: the Fun Lovin' Criminals had become a big name and he was playing to audiences of 50,000. At that point, trust is hard to come by, but I'd always taken care of myself so I never had to ask Huey for money and we respected each other. But so many [other] guys used him – he's a good guy and, unfortunately, too nice, so a lot of people took advantage of that.

When Huey went on tour I would stay in his house and look after his dog, Sugar. I loved looking after that little pit-bull mutt. She was a funny, cool dog and the whole neighbourhood knew her.

I think he's had to work harder at being successful than me – there are millions of guitar-playing singers out there, while I was definitely lucky as I created something new [with Miami Ink], but I never claimed be the best [tattoo] artist. With Huey, he never had a Robert Plant voice, but he has this cool raspy sound that people loved to listen to, and his band started a new blues-ish, hip-hop-ish guitar style that was something new, which isn't easy to do.

He finally asked me for a tattoo 14 years ago. I knew he didn't want some rinky-dink tattoo but when he asked for a dragon I was like, "Listen, you don't have to get a dragon, just get something cool!" But he wanted it so I did this big outline and a bit of shading on his arm and chest. But then he started travelling again so we never got to finish it. Huey's always trying to blame it on me, but he wasn't exactly knocking on my door to finish it.

Love Hate Social Club is in London W11, lovehatesocialclub.com. Morgan's album 'Say it to My Face' (Naim Edge) is out now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star