A follow-up video to Part 1 (obviously) where Thor Drake goes deeper on the builders and their bikes that made the show so fucking awesome! Great imagery and commentary that adds a lot of color to the experience. Pure joy.
TSY recenty received a scan of this great old Wall of death rider, along with the below note from the sender, Brian in Kansas City, MO. Anyone with knowledge of the rider, and/or this particular Wall of Death motordrome is kindly asked to chime in:
“…I am a collector of postcards and a while back I purchased a postcard of a man on a motorcycle riding in some kind of spectator show. Your article helped clarify a lot about the photo. I have attached the photo and thought maybe you have seen it before or could provide some more info. The back of the card is particularly interesting. It reads: ‘About 1912– Later he was killed– Someone threw a peanut at him– caused him to dodge and lose balance, falling with cycle to bottom of pit killing him.’ Sounds likes sport spectators were not much different then as they are today. I thought maybe the motorcycle may have been a Cyclone, however I don’t think it is. The lettering on his shirt may bring some clue as well…”
Back In Dec. ’09 TSY posted what remains today one of our more popular stories– Wall of Death riders with a lion, no less. I mean, really…old photos of a lion riding the Wall of Death is damn hard to beat…unless you have a video of said lion riding the Wall of Death! At that time there wasn’t a moving image to be found, but British Pathe, an amazing archive of historic film clips, uncovered a little gem of ‘Fearless Egbert’ giving his lion named Monarch a spin back in 1934. They also uncovered incredible film footage of ‘Tornado Smith’ with his Lion, ‘Briton’. It’s definitely worth a look…
Whenever I hear ‘Crazy Train’ I’m immediately transported back to 8th grade Guitar class. One dude will forever be etched in my mind. Dave was 1/2 Japanese, all of about 5 ft tall, and probably weighed 80 lbs soaking wet, if that. His hair, alone worthy of open adoration, making up the bulk of his weight and height. This ‘Metal Mane’ was streaked, sprayed, and stood a good 6 inches above his head, cascading down to the middle of his back in perfectly teased strands. My 13 yr old brain could not fathom the ridiculous routine and expense this must have required. But damn if he didn’t more the rockstar part than 90% of the bands on the cover Cream and Hit Parader magazine. His bare arms were like sinewy, wire pipe cleaners. And I’d never seen jeans that tight in my life. Not even on a girl. No sir. I don’t know where the hell he found them, or how he breathed. The entire situation was delicately perched upon tiny black (or white) Capezio, soft-as-hell-leather lace-up dance shoes. Boom. Mind blown. Only a handful of dudes had the nuts to wear these. Dave’s look was definitely balls-out for West Phoenix. But nobody questioned him, because Dave was the reigning guitar badass. While the rest of us fumbled through the opening of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Dave was staring at the ceiling tiles, biting his lip, soloing like the Segovia of Heavy Metal.
Dave even brought his own guitar to class. Lugged it around in a case thicker than him, covered in cool stickers. Rather that than play the nylon-strung acoustic beaters they had in class. I don’t remember what kind of acoustic it was, but the strings (always Dean Markley) were so light that you could hardly see them, let alone feel them. You had to lean in to hear a damn thing, but it was worth it. And the action was set so low that you could run scales faster than a hot knife through butter. But if you strummed it would buzz like crazy. No worries. No one was strumming shit. Everyone was shredding– with varying degrees of success. Dave was a Rock God in the making, and everyone at Maryvale High School seemed to sense it. Dave was into the hot, new Japanese Metal bands that no one else even heard of. And he spoke of Yngvie, Eddie, and Randy in hushed whispers like they were comrades. Knew all their solos and tricks, and could perform them on cue. Eruption, Spanish Fly, Dee, and of course, Crazy Train were all in his finely honed repertoire. We moved from Phoenix to Tempe that year, and I changed schools, so I don’t really know whatever became of Dave. But my fascination with the marvel and mystery of Randy Rhoads was firmly cemented. No head-banging hooligan. A sensitive, immensely talented man taken too soon.
“I never really got into Black Sabbath when I was in England. Right? And then Ozzy came out with this great first album, you know, it really was good. And we got to see them play after that, like almost every night. And so, Randy Rhoads, although being a wonderful guitar player, could not play Asteroids for shit. I beat him right across this country. From East coast, to West and back.
Randy Rhoads was like just, brilliant. You know, I mean of course he got better after he died. You know, because everybody does. Right? But uh, I loved Randy, yeah. He took risks. He wasn’t scared, you know. I mean, he knew his instrument, you know? So he’d just go for it. That’s what I used to like about him. And you could…like, Ozzy used to just throw him around, throw him up on his shoulders while he was playing. And he never missed a note.”
–Lemmy from Motorhead
One thing that Triumph figured out a long time ago in their quest for power and speed– if one engine is good, then 2 engines is even better. In the ’50s & ’60s Triumph motorcycles dominated the Salt Flats, even naming their 1959 T120 ‘Bonneville’ after the famed proving grounds. Now Triumph is back in a bid to reclaim Bonneville with the fierce as f**k twin-engined ‘Castrol Rocket’ developed by Castrol, Hot Rod Conspiracy, Carpenter Racing, and Triumph North America. The result is hands-down the world’s most technologically-advanced streamlined motorcycle.
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 sitting on a Formula One race car during the filming of Grand Prix, 1966. –Photo by Francois Gragnon
Francoise Hardy perched atop a Honda motorcycle is an all-time internet #babesonbikes favorite.