by Diamond Tim
In the beginning, Marlon Brando rode his Triumph Thunderbird into the small California town decked out in black leather and near the birth of Rock-n-Roll. Since then motorcycles, black leather & Rock-n-Roll go together like a bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich…I guess the mayo could be the girls.
3 out of those 4 can get out of control ( not the black leather ) and unless you “catch” something Cheap Trick warns you about in “Surrender”, the motorcycle will kill you if you make the wrong move, but even worse, if somebody else makes the wrong move on you…no matter how great you ride…you’re gonna bleed.
I’ve been around many a bike & bikers all my life…not consistantly, but as part of a healthy rock-n-roll lifestyle its hard not to have friends that do, even if you don’t…I did. I mean c’mon, you’ll never see Motley Crue or KISS posing with a Pinto!…Or Judas Priest’s Rob Halford roll out on stage on a bicycle! Sure it’s good for the environment, just not for the image.
My first bike was given to me by Homer Scott in 1975. It was a black Harley Davidson 350 on/off bike…which meant it could do dirt & street which was a rarity for a Harley ( back then ). One day I come flyin’ down Bellevue Road southwest of Nashville taking a short cut through the neighbor’s grassy-knoll covered in dew & hitting the front brakes…yes friends, I tasted the sweet morning grass with a mixture of mud & blood to wash it down and a nice little red mark ‘cross my face…you know like David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover…go look at it…I’ll wait…
I motocrossed a little bit too…once as I laid in the mud after falling from a jump, like I was laying in bed watching dozens of bikes taking flight from the back of my headboard landing all around me. It was if the Wicked Witch sent the winged-monkees on Kawazaki’s & Suzuki’s to torture me…over the years I would still ride now & then but not so off the hook but rather more like a rebel with a cause…the cause to not get hurt!
BUT…In the mid 80’s twixed my time in Florida, back to Tennessee I got into a little bit more than just a taste of morning dew but of blacktop. I had a girlfriend, Linda Williams on my bike & 1 helmet with the “live free, die young” attitude of the “true rocker”, so I gave it to her ( the gentleman that I am ) & I was like, “my step-father’s the Sheriff of this town, they wont bust me ridin’ without a helmet!” Then I took a gravel road too fast wiping out and throwing me head first into the sidewalk…I actually thought I was ok, even though it wasn’t very “Bond-like” and she a bit shakin & stirred but fine… When I felt a liquid warmth I never felt before flowing from the top of my skull over my face. I thought it was sweat or maybe more like maple syrup ( as those cartoon birds were flyin’ around my face ) until I saw red drops dripping like a loose washer on a faucet…and then the scream, not mine, hers!…well, ok mine too. 2 huge gaps on the top of my skull…I tell ya I looked like “Carrie” by the time the ambulance came. A few headaches & alot of staples made me finally see the light although it was my own stupid fault…I still have some hair grafts over the staple scars because it wont grow on scars, otherwise I’d look like I’m sportin’ a croooked mohawk! That’s’ kinda punk, but I’m an old school rocker…If I was Herman Munster I might have been cool with it. LOL…But I was thinning a bit anyway so it worked out in my favor ( for vanity sake ) LOL, hey I’m a rocker not a lawyer! To make fun of someone wanting to improve themselves from an accident is like laughing at chemotherapy or a prostetic hand, but there are those that don’t understand & have a head sickness that can never be altered, except by a really good shrink…or better yet, a labotomy…maybe I should’ve had one! LOL. I have a buddy out there that has a prostetic as a result of a motorcycle accident…we’ve had an argument or 2 through the years & I would never be classless enough to use that as a last ditch effort for venting vulgarities against him…that rat bastard.
Another old school rocker like me is my buddy Jamie Simmons, bassist for the fabulous Simmonz brothers, a fave band out of Nashville since the glorious 80’s! He was recently in a motorcycle accident and I do believe it was at the indiscretions of the automobile driver. He’s in the hospital as we speak & I say Godspeed Jamie! You’ve got the support of your great brothers, your family & a multitude of friends. He’ll be fine…I just gave him a pair of special Eddie Van Halen flip-flops to walk out of the hospital with. That’ll make anybody get better. Love ya brother!
Now WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! On July 14th, 2012 in Sumner County, TN. The Gallatin Roughnecks Biker Club ( made up of Police, Firefighters, EMT’s, etc. ) are gonna have a big motorcycle rally & benefit ending with a sweet rock-n-roll jam all in the name of Jamie Simmons so please get out there & show your support & give to a great cause! You can get more detailed info at MikeSimmonsBand.Com.
Now I got nothin’ against a good auto as I have a motorcar ( as a Beatle would say ) as do most of us, but the Biker has rights to & you have to be extremely vigilant & considerate…or else! Like, I’ve got a couple of friends in the Hell’s Angel’s ( names witheld to protect the innocent…me.) & the last thing you want is to accidentally scratch his chrome.
I really got to thinkin’ about all the famous Rock-n-Roll folk who died or were seriously injured in motorcycle wrecks like Billy Idol, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Steven Tyler, Peter Fonda was born to be wild, the great Buddy Holly acting Gary Busey, even Ann Margret shook it with Elvis, in 2000 she got a broken arm & 4 broken ribs! Worse than that is death…Here’s a forgotten great, Don Rich! I thought he was one of the greatest with Buck Owens back in the day…I met him when he was doin’ Hee Haw in 1973, then the next year, he was gone…just gone. How ’bout Barry Oakley & Duanne Allman!? The Allman Brothers Band guitarist was killed in a 1971 motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, when he crashed into a semi-truck that had pulled in front of him. Oakley, the band’s bassist, was killed in a 1972 motorcycle less than a mile from the spot where Allman had suffered the same fate a year earlier…can you believe it?!!!
So a couple of years ago I’m leaving a Renaissance Festival south of Nashville & I’m stuck in a line of traffic on a narrow 2 lane highway…I see a group of heavy-duty bikers coming the other way clear & free doin’ the speed limit, nice & legal, when they pass me & I happened to look in my rear view mirror when I saw an impatient motorcar decide he was gonna turn left into a driveway to go back the other way. I had a terrible feeling I was about to witness an amazing feat…as the idiot in the car turned, the very large Harley broad-sided him and I watched a 300 pound man clad in leather fly 30 feet into the air & land in the street. I jumped out of the car & ran over to him. Totally in shock and disbelief this giant of a man turned into a 12 year old boy that wrecked his 10-speed. He was scared to death as I held his hand. Amazingly there was no blood, but he didn’t move an inch except for the worry in his eyes & the tears of confusion. I didn’t leave his side until the medivac helicopter came in…I stayed with him until the chopper took off…I never saw him again. I hope he made it.
Motorcycles & the men & women who “live to ride” really do “ride to live”! It’s in their blood! It’s what makes them truly happy & to forget the daily grind. These are my kinda people although it might be awhile before I get on a hog again. Prayers for the Biker & watch out for them! Keep ‘em safe, while you stay safe! For the girls, the black leather & the motorcycle are the foundation of true Rock-N-Roll!
Remember my friends…May is National Motorcycle Awareness month! Enjoy this new video of a song I recorded in 1987 that’s just right for the occasion. ;-