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.