Young Dick Dale, Surf Guitar God, looking pretty badass on his 1941 Harley-Davidson Flathead– he even machined the handlebar risers himself.
So there’s this little festival called Chopped put on each year in Country Victoria – Australia. The guys were kind enough to send TSY a note as they thought we would appreciate the madness that they create down under… Enjoy!
A throwback in time to a 1950s – ’60s Hop Up Carnival! Hundreds of cars and bikes rattled by the sounds of 25+ bands belting the roots of rock music to thousands of Rockers, Petrol Heads, Hipsters & Greasers! This is Chopped the only festival of its type it in the world!
1978, Bon Scott and the Heathen Girls, Atlanta, GA. — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive. “Up in his room, Bon orders one of those fancy American cocktails, then dials California for a 20 minute call with an old girlfriend. Lead guitarist Angus Young, the ‘enfant terrible’ of AC/DC, arrives closely followed by Rose Whiperr and the Heathen Girls– four stunningly beautiful, heavily made-up girls who’s singing act at the local gay bars could loosely be called ‘bizarre chic’. The girls and the band had met at the backstage party that manager Michael Browning had thrown an hour or so before at the end of a typical raging AC/DC concert.”
It was great being a part of 1st Annual NYC Motorcycle Film Festival in Brooklyn last week. Lots of great films and filmmakers were exposed to fresh eyes hungry for inspiring motorcycle art, culture, and history on the screen. An interesting after-film Q & A brought up a seminal motorcycle film of the 1960s, “The Leather Boys”, not just necessarily for the striking “Ton-Up Boys” and bikes– actually more for it’s place in history for being the first British film to be rated ‘X’ for having homosexual themes than actual nudity of a graphic nature, per se.
I was first exposed to “The Leather Boys” as a teenage fan of The Smiths (it was a very influential and transforming film for Morrissey, and many young gay men in England). Clips and images of the film and it’s stars were used in The Smiths’ video “Girlfriend in a Coma” and their single, “William, It Was Really Nothing.” In a 1988 NME interview at the Cadogan Hotel (where Oscar Wilde was arrested), Morrissey even said, “I’m almost quite speechless now, it’s a very historic place and obviously it means a great deal to me… to be sitting here staring at Oscar’s television and the very video that Oscar watched “The Leather Boys on.” (The ‘Oscar’s television’ comment, obviously an impossibility, is Moz being snarky and insulting the intelligence of the NME reporter…) Hearing “The Leather Boys” being referenced all these years later by filmmaker Eric Tretbar (Girl Meets Bike), and Paul d’Orleans of The Vintagent made me want to take a closer look at the historical influence of “The Leather Boys”, of which there is several layers.
Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell in the iconic British film, “The Leather Boys”, 1964.
James Hunt on the winner’s podium (L to R): Patrick Depailler (FRA) Tyrrell, second; race winner James Hunt (GBR) McLaren; John Watson (GBR) Penske, third. French Grand Prix, 1976. — Image © Phipps / Sutton Images / Corbis
I’m stoked to see Rush this weekend– the much anticipated film by Ron Howard on one of Formula One’s most talented and notorious drivers ever, James “The Shunt” Hunt. The seemingly insatiable ladies’ man was estimated to have had 5,000 trysts in his lifetime. History tells of a wicked weekend where buddy and fellow (motorcycle) racing legend Barry Sheene tallied 33 BA stewardesses lined-up at the door of their Tokyo Hilton suite. It’ll be interesting to see if Chris Hemsworth is able to capture his wit and charm, and if he can keep his muscles from overshadowing the memory of Hunt’s lean, lanky frame hard-earned by a physical exercise regiment consisting largely of driving, and shagging. The perfect primer for Rush is the documentary When Playboy’s ruled the World which accurately and colorfully takes you back to the glory days of Hunt & Sheene when driving was dangerous, and sex was safe. More epic photos of James Hunt in action after the video…
Sept. 7th, 1976 — Joe Esposito (Elvis Presley’s Memphis Mafia buddy) wearing a Led Zeppelin 1975 Tour T-shirt at the Holiday Inn hotel with Elvis in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
“I was 14 years old when Led Zeppelin came to Memphis in 1969. As the youngest step-brother to Elvis Presley, I was living at the Graceland Mansion. My divorced mother Dee Stanley married Elvis’s widowed father Vernon Presley on July 3, 1960. Anyway, I went to the concert with a friend and was blown away. John Bonham playing his solo on Moby Dick, Jimmy Page stroking his Les Paul with a fiddle bow, John Paul Jones laying down heavy bass, and of course the driving voice of Robert Plant. While growing up as Presley’s step-brother I was no stranger to great music. But it was Led Zeppelin that became MY MUSIC while growing up the King.
I started touring with Presley in 1972 when I was 16. I always had Zeppelin’s music with me. In 1974 while at the LA Forum Led Zeppelin came to see Elvis. Later that night after the show Robert, Jimmy and John Paul came to Elvis’s suite at the hotel across the street from the Forum. I met them as they came off the elevator and walked with them to Elvis’s room. I introduced myself, shook their hands and got their autograph. Of all the people I met during my life with Elvis, it was only Led Zeppelin’s autograph that I asked for.
Francoise Hardy on the ‘Grand Prix’ film set seen wearing co-star James Garner’s helmet, 1966.
Francoise Hardy was a wistful breath of fresh air during the sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll of the 1960s. Mysterious, sweetly naive, and utterly desirable. She was adored by Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and more. The incredible enduring images of Hardy, particularly those by famed photographer Jean-Marie Perier (who shot her donned in Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Andre Courréges, and Paco Rabanne), made her an instant and timeless style icon. With her faraway gaze and lazy smile, Francoise Hardy is like a melancholy dream that you simply don’t want to wake up from. Her unease with fame and adoration is at times clearly evident in her photos– serving only to make her even more alluring.
Francoise Hardy resting in a Formula One race car during the filming of Grand Prix, 1966.
Francoise Hardy perched atop a Honda motorcycle is an all-time internet #babesonbikes favorite.
Cool short filmed by Scott Pommier for the Born Free 5 Show about “man, machine, and man’s best friend” ~ starring Pobbs & Shawn Donahue of Bronsonville Custom Cycles. Get ready for the show coming up June 29th, more details below…
BORN-FREE SHOW MISSION STATEMENT
The Born-Free 5 Show is about the love of old motorcycles and like minded individuals having a good time together and enjoying these bikes of the past. It is also a family event, young and old a-like are welcome to come out and enjoy the show. This show is meant to unite people from all walks of life by bringing the passion that we all have of these old machines together for one special day.
Evel Knievel shared a long and colorful history with Harley-Davidson– professing that his very first motorcycle was a Harley that he stole when he was just 13 yrs old. Legend has it in 1960, Evel Knievel strapped his day-old son Kelly to his back for the boy’s first motorcycle ride. The 22-year-old Robert (not yet the larger-than-life Evel) Knievel fishtailed the brand new Harley on their maiden ride home from the maternity ward to the family trailer in Butte, Montana. He was so shaken by almost wrecking with his newborn baby in-tow that he promptly sold the bike.
A great shot of Evel Knievel showcasing the beauty of his white leathers with navy and red trim. Knievel was buried in a leather jacket like the one you see here when he passed away in 2007. Pal Matthew McConaughey offered this eulogy– “He’s forever in flight now. He doesn’t have to come back down. He doesn’t have to land.” And yes, McConaughey was probably stoned. A bit of an odd pairing if ever there was one, but I ask you– Who doesn’t love Evel Knievel?
Dorothy Stratten – Playboy Playmate of the Month for August, 1979 & Playmate of the Year for 1980.
Anyone who lived during the time of the brutal killing and tragic loss of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, probably will never forget how utterly shocking and saddening it truly was. It spawned 2 movies (including the gripping classic, Star 80), books (including ‘The Killing of the Unicorn’ by Peter Bogdanovich, her boyfriend at the time), and many songs written in her memory. Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams actually co-wrote 2 songs about her. The crime is no less shocking today, and we are left with her story of a young girl who seemingly had acheived the American dream of fortune and fame, only to have it violently stolen from her, along with her young fragile life, by an insecure, low-life punk, whose name is not even worth mentioning. RIP Dorothy Stratten. You live on. Many of the photos are via dorothystratten.com the authoritative site on Dorothy Stratten.
“The Medieval Knight stands bold in its shining armour as Miss World of Wheels, Dorothy Hoogstraten (AKA Dorothy Stratten) dubs Ron Bergsma, who is one of the ‘Macho Man’ contestants from Universal Olympic Gym at the World of Wheels Custom Car Show, August 16th, 1978.” –Photo by Paul Snider.
Dorothy Stratten in a bikini with the 1979 Firebird Trans Am custom-built by legendary George Barris and that starred in the Steve Martin film “The Jerk”.
Here’s a cool video by Ray Gordon on the story of Hurst Racing Tires– owned and operated by Cody Adams & Steve Adams since 2005 in Oregon City, OR. They make each tire by hand, using the original equipment acquired by Ron Hurst himself when he started making racing tires back in 1961 to supply the local racers in San Diego, CA. You get a real appreciation that some things are just better when done by hand, using quality materials and time-honored craftsmanship.
1979, Cleveland — Bo Diddley opened for The Clash on their US tour – Image by © Bob Gruen. In 1979, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of the Clash asked that Diddley open for them on the band’s first American tour. “I can’t look at him without my mouth falling open,” Strummer, starstruck, told a journalist during the tour. For his part, Diddley had no misgivings about facing a skeptical audience. “You cannot say what people are gonna like or not gonna like,” he explained later to the biographer George White. “You have to stick it out there and find out! If they taste it, and they like the way it tastes, you can bet they’ll eat some of it!” via
The Clash where huge fans of Bo Diddley, as many of the formative British bands (and American too) of the ’60s and ’70s were– The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Beatles, The Yardbirds, and many more. Bo Diddley joined The Clash as their opening act on their 1979 US Tour– opening up a radical, young, new crowd to the sound of the man many consider to be one of the most important pioneers of American Rock & Roll music. Bo Diddley himself made no bones about stating that HE was THE beginning of Rock & Roll. Bo Diddley not only influenced sound– he also influenced the attitude, energy, and look of Rock & Roll for decades to come. Look at the pics here, I see the bold plaids that Diddley and other Rockers of the ’50s wore (Plaid was for hipsters, not squares, in the ’50s..), that emerged again strongly in the ’70s through the Sex Pistols (great credit due to Vivienne Westwood), The Clash and others. You can also see and hear where Jack Black got the lion’s share of his game from– no doubt Bo Diddley. The man is a legend and has never gotten his due, and the due that came, came too late. He had a well-earned chip on his shoulder, and even insisted The Clash pay him upfront, as he’d been screwed over so many times before.
“I was the cat that went and opened the door, and everyone else ran through it. And I said– what the heck, you know? …I was left holding the doorknob” –Bo Diddley
ca. 1950s — Norma Jean “The Duchess” Wofford in white blouse, Jerome Green squatting in front with maracas, and Bo Diddley with his signature rectangular Gretsch guitar. Bo and his crew were the badasses of their generation, just as The Clash were in theirs. – Image by © Michael Ochs
“If you can play– all you need is one amp, your axe, and you. “ –Bo Diddley explaining his feelings about The Clash’s monstrous wall of sound during their 1979 US tour.
1967– Sharon Tate for a spread in Esquire Magazine, 1967, in a t-shirt printed with the Vietnam Star. –Photo by William Helburn
So this is what the internets are recently abuzz about– The Mad Men costume designer channeling the essence of Sharon Tate, circa Esquire magazine 1969, by placing the same Vietnam Star T-shirt on Megan Draper. Which, mind you– was probably not for sale at your local Hot Topic, head shop, or Amazon.com back then, so kinda random and creepy. It’s a pretty good ploy to generate some buzz– made me look twice, and I haven’t watched the show in a few years now. Probably exactly what they were going for. I will say, for the record, that the original photography by William Helburn is amazing– downright titillating, even.
But if you find this kind of stuff remotely interesting, the real tingler is how Steve McQueen himself almost ended up a part of the Manson massacre, and could have shared in Sharon Tate and the other’s gruesome fate…
You can never have enough Norm Grabowski! From the grainy pages of Modern Cycle magazine, ca. 1965 (a follow-up piece published after covering Norm’s epic Corvair-powered “Six Pack” motorcycle), by way of Nostalgia on Wheels. Below is Norm on the Harley before the sidecar, and following along after you’ll see it fitted with the Steib sidecar as it appeared in Modern Cycle.
Norm Grabowski on his custom ’54 Panhead Harley with special high-torque cams on a ’38 H-D rigid frame. This was later equipped with a Steib sidecar frame adapted by Mike Parti. –pic via Irish Rich
“Norm on his red metalflaked Pan chopper with the jugs and heads painted white, at the drags. Check out the sissy bar – it’s a combination beer can holder / “church key” beer can opener….too fucking much!“
Norm Grabowski is the kind of guy who goes nuts over things mechanical. If you read the Modern Cycle issue of May 1965, you’ll remember the story we did on his Six Pack, the ultra-smooth power monster consisting mainly of an Indian motorcycle frame housing a Chevrolet Corvair engine. Norm’s latest creation is certainly as far out as the last one, but at least this time he stuck mostly to motorcycle parts in creating it. Completed last Fall, the three wheeler was seen several times on television on the short lived series, My Mother The Car, in which the actor was a regular. Grabowski drove the melodramatic villain, Captain Mancini, around in the strange looking chair. –Modern Cycle magazine, ca. 1965
Funny how often we automatically assume that long-standing, famous couples must be deeply devoted, madly in love, and happier than a couple of pigs in slop. Sometimes, like in the case of Salavador Dali and his wife Gala– what looked like love may have been a case of shared sins and “the devil you know”… I found this juicy tell-all on the couple written for VF some 15 years ago that made my own mustache curl on end… I even had to omit a few bits that were just too much. Let’s just say, it seems that they deserved each other– neither of them seem exactly easy, let alone pleasurable, to be with.
ca. 1930– Salvador Dali and Gala in Port Lligat, a fishing village near Cadaques, before they married. When they met in 1929 Gala was still married to the poet Paul Eluard, and she quickly began an affair with Dali, who was around ten years her junior. After marrying Dali, she and Eluard continued their intimate relationship. “Letters to Gala” is the published collection of Eluard’s raw, twisted, and emotional letters to Gala that expose the powerful grip she held on him.
DALI’S DEMON BRIDE
When Surrealist master Salvador Dali met Gala Devulina in 1929, the 25-year-old artist found a poisonous muse who defined decadence and outdid him in sexual perversity.
By John Richardson, Vanity Fair, 1998
That Salvador Dali fell victim to his Russian wife Gala’s lust for domination is no longer a matter of conjecture. Ian Gibson, in an eye-opening biography of the artist that Norton will publish here this month, comes up with some terrifying new facts, which reveal in more detail and depth than ever before how and why this quintessential Surrealist—the master of the soft watches—allowed himself to be destroyed by one of the nastiest wives a major modern artist ever saddled himself with.
I can testify to the accuracy of Gibson’s account. In the early 1970s I was a vice president of M. Knoedler & Co., Dali’s dealers. One of my responsibilities was keeping the artist to the terms of his contract at a time when his eye was so bleary and his hand so shaky that assistants had taken over his more arduous work. I could not help feeling sorry for the seedy old conjurer, with his rhinoceros-horn wand, leopardskin overcoat, and designer whiskers, not to mention his surreal breath. The Wizard of Was, as someone called him, was all patter and very little sleight of hand. His virago of a wife and the creepy, conniving courtiers in charge of his business had reduced Dali to a mere logo, a signature as flamboyant as his mustache.
ca. 1930– Salvador Dali and Gala in Port Lligat, a fishing village near Cadaques, before they married. Dali was reportedly a virgin when they met, who feared female private parts, and in a very close relationship with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. There are differing opinions on whether it was a gay love affair– some say it was, while others claim Dali rebuffed Lorca’s sexual advances. Reports are also that what Dali really got off on was candaulism.
Brian Duffy photograph of David Bowie for the Aladdin Sane album cover, 1973. “Bowie’s sixth studio album marked the birth of the ‘schizophrenic’ character Aladdin Sane who was a development of the space-age Japanese-influenced Ziggy Stardust. To create the compelling album cover image, Bowie collaborated with photographer Brian Duffy and make-up artist Pierre Laroche. The result was one of the most recognizable images in popular culture– a ‘lightning flash’ design which has been reproduced in multiple forms world-wide.” via
Unless you’re living under a rock (which may be the case if you depend on TSY for current affairs), there’s no way you could not feel the intense media blitz that’s happening around all things David Bowie. The release of the new single and album “The Next Day”…the 40th anniversary of Ziggy Stardust…the “David Bowie is” exhibit at London’s V&A…even the whole androgyny thing that’s sweeping the fashion scene bears his mark. Bowie is everywhere you turn, for chrissakes.
Look, there are those that revere Bowie as an ahead-of-his-time visionary who revolutionized Rock ‘n’ Roll. And there are those who see him very black & white, as a plodding opportunist who coldly studied what was happening around him (heavily borrowing from true innovators at the time like Marc Bolan), and then expertly went about merchandising himself for mass commercial consumption. Both are fucking true. Bowie is an epic genius who learned through years of toil, trial, and error how to create a magical out-of-this-world persona and artistically sell it to us on a silver platter. No one has done it better in recent memory, and it’s unlikely that anyone in our lifetime will top him. Period. End of story.
There’s an incredible account by Glenn O’Brien in the recent issue of Out Magazine. Gay or straight, get over it, go buy it, and devour the entire spread on David Bowie. It is brilliant. You can read a chunk of it here after the jump. Now go– oh, you pretty things.
“David Bowie (AKA Ziggy Stardust) wearing a sensational creation by Kansai Yamamoto. Born in Yokohama in 1944, the Japanese fashion designer was only 27 when he held his first international fashion show in London in 1971. The Japanese division of RCA records made MainMan aware of Yamamoto’s work and Bowie purchased the “woodlands animal costume” from Kansai’s London boutique– which he wore at the Rainbow Concert in August 1972 and which was later remade by Natasha Korniloff. Bowie subsequently viewed a video of a rock/fashion show that Kansai had staged in Japan the previous year and reportedly loved the costumes which were a combination of modern sci-fi and classical Kabuki theatre. Kansai and Bowie met in New York where he gifted Bowie two costumes during the 2nd US Tour. Kansai was then commissioned to create nine more costumes based on traditional Japanese Noh dramas for Bowie to pick up in Tokyo in April 1973. These were the flamboyant androgynous Ziggy Stardust costumes Bowie wore on the 3rd UK tour in 1973.” via The Ziggy Stardust Companion –photo by Masayoshi Sukita, the David Bowie archive
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust –photo by Mick Rock via