My stepdad was a biker, and not exactly a warm and fuzzy guy. He rode a classic ’79 Harley-Davidson Lowrider, and his little friend was always along for the ride– a .44 magnum strapped to his leg “for all the honest world to feel” (as Townes Van Zandt would say). Sounds cool, but like a lot of things– you tend to idealize it when you’re on the outside looking in. We didn’t exactly fit into the norm, nor did we to care to. Let’s just say it wasn’t a typical childhood, and we got a lot of stares. I was not invited to a lot of sleep-overs either.
Easyriders magazine was a part of growing up, and exposed me to a lot of… you know, art. Yeah, there’s other stuff in there too that a kid shouldn’t see, but I was fascinated with the illustrations by Dave Mann– and still am. They’re incredible.
Dave Mann’s dad was a lifelong illustrator and active member of the Society of Scribes in London. The younger Mann was born in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1957 he first drew pencil sketches of hot rods while feigning attention in high school. His crude sketches opened the door for Dave’s first job, pinstriping cars for Doug Thompson and Ray Hetrick’s custom car shop in Kansas City. The wild allure of the West Coast drew Dave and buddy Al Burnett to Santa Monica, California. While cruising the seaside community he stumbled across Bay Area Muffler, an area custom car house, and there discovered completely insane chopped Harleys. The bikes drove him wild. They projected freedom, power and mobility with every chromed curve. He was immediately hooked.
Dave Mann returned to Kansas City and bought his first new bike, a ’48 Panhead, for $350. At the same time he created his first painting, “Hollywood Run.” It represented the wild, unleashed, Hollywood outlaw lifestyle. Riding his customized Harley with his painting tucked under his arm, Dave entered the ’63 Kansas City Custom Car Show. That car show launched his artistic & biker career. Dave Mann had the only custom-bike entry in the show, so for his creative efforts the judges initiated a new class and trophy specifically for him.
Dave Mann painted several posters for Big Daddy Roth, the California custom car creator and publisher of the first chopper magazine. In ’65, he went to work in the mailroom at Scheffer Studios in Kansas city, where he met an architectural renderer, Dave Poole, who taught him technical drawing. By ’67, Mann developed into an architectural renderer, having studied at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Then in 1971, Dave discovered a new magazine— Easyriders. And the rest as they say, is history– the two are now forever inseparable in any hardcore biker’s heart and mind. Easyriders was the first full-fledged, lifestyle-related bike rag. Since Easyriders third issue, Dave Mann has led the biker magazine industry by capturing the essence of a changing lifestyle in the epic center-spreads.
Due to his failing health, Dave Mann was forced to retire from Easyriders in 2003 — the years of paint fumes had deteriorated his lungs to the point where surgeons had to remove them both and put him on a breathing machine. Sadly, Dave died about a day after his 64th birthday, Sept. 11 2004.
RIP, Dave Mann.
great post. thanks. i too grew up in a household with easy rider magazines around. Mom made dad keep them in the garage, which kind of made it better for a young boy to seek and find on his own, a little more exciting that way given the taboo. Seeing those Dave Mann illustrations brings back a little bit of that excitement to the pit of my stomach.
Yeah, David was one of the best with his illustrations and motorcycle artwork. I even did an article on him myself. Great work.
Are you aware or do you know if David ever did a self potrait of himself (re: The Wheel Stand Streak on a large canvas ) using a different name as an artist ? I have that painting ( David is on a Harley K-Model is the only difference). Maybe during his first years, truly a mistery. (David Mann is on the air cleaner.)(530-945-7970)
An old time brother and close friends, just wanted to say hi! to an old brother – Cleve (Rebo) Bolgrien. If your still around, please give us notice, Phx, AZ. we hope you doing ok. Rattlesnake
Thought about you and Kermit along with Rebo, you guys still around? Hope so… all of ya get in touch, I`m still here in Phoenix.
In my prior request I stated wheel stand streaks and it is the Wheel STAND TRAILS (RE; THE CANVAS PAINTING)
Been way longer than a coon’s age and then some, where are you? I’ve tried lookin’ and I’m not seein’
Hi there –
My father (Lou Kimzey) was the creator and publisher of Easyriders.
I too was on the outside looking in – but it was the lifestyle
I grew up in – Harley parked on an oil pan in the living room,
I even played “past-up” artist on my dads drawing board.
Later at 19 I worked for the magazine designing the filler ads
and many in house ads then graduating to designing editorial
spreads. Dave was my father’s best friend and I was privileged to
know him. This was a nice ode to dave, thank you.
Nancy (Kimzey) Anderson
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. That’s amazing.
Dear Nancy I was on the 1953 december issue of Hop Up Magazine. Your dad, Lou Kimzey was one of the dearest and sweetest man I ever had the privilege to meet. He and a photographer whom I have forgotten his name, were very nice and made me feel so at ease. It was my first magazine cover and I had a Santa outfit on. Also I was on another cover of another magazine in 1954 of which I believe he was the managing editor of that magazine also.
As our lives went separate ways, we lost touch in the early 1960’s.
I was so very sorry that he died at such a relatively young age. I’m sure his life was fabulous and full.
Darlene Baiocchi Rutherford
i went through the dave mann video of his past paintings. i had a great time. thanks for making it possible. jj solari
JJ, I’m glad you wrote in. Along with Dave, you’re also an icon from a time we’ll never see again. Your writing is awesome. I still laugh myself stupid reading your short stories in my aging collection of ER. Intended to be outrageous, but they were most realistic stories in there, just like the pre-silicone chicks on the old covers. Thanks for writing in, I’ve always wanted to say hello.
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