ART IS ETERNAL

‘Art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man’
– – Martha Graham, Dancer and Choreographer – –

The very first article I ever published appeared in Easyriders, the groundbreaking magazine which was at once the LIFE, Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest of the outlaw biker set. I wrote about tattoo removal – a topic I thought some readers might find interesting – after an encounter with a dermatologist at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Hastings, Nebraska, who told me about a then-new technique for obliterating unwanted tattoos via laser. I won’t bore you with the details – the information is all woefully outdated anyway – but I ended my piece with the words

These days, even art is not eternal.’

However, barring catastrophic circumstances like the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, where – in addition to thousands of lives, including my cousin Eddie – an estimated $110 million worth of art was destroyed, or the Taliban’s deliberate destruction of The Buddhas of Bamiyan, art really is eternal….

….and even those pieces lost or destroyed live on in memory.

….and all this to say ‘Hey! I got some cool stuff to show ya!’

An advert for prints of Dave Mann’s earliest posters. Choppers publisher Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth was a wily self-promoter with a sharp eye for moneymaking opportunities. He had no problem exploiting the talents of young artists like Mann, and continued to make bank off Mann’s work long after Mann left his stable.

IN THE BEGINNING….

I don’t know who first attempted to paint or draw images of the biker life, but Dave Mann was certainly a pioneer. After selling some early paintings of biker life to Choppers magazine founder Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth (creator of the iconic ‘Rat Fink’ and a number of radically customized cars and motorcycles), Mann join the El Forastero Motorcycle Club (forastero is ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’ in Spanish) as a charter member of the club’s Kansas City MO chapter.

Hollywood Run was the painting Dave Mann’s friend and club brother Tiny showed to Choppers publisher Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth. Roth recognized Mann’s potential, quickly bought up as many of the artist’s paintings as he could, and turned them into a profitable line of posters.
Another of Dave Mann’s early paintings for Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth features a wild desert party populated by outlaw bikers from numerous extant motorcycle clubs of the day.
Dave Mann in 1970, aboard the panhead chopper he purchased from Hells Angels member Buzzard. BTW, Buzzard appears in Bill Ray’s book of photographs – Hells Angels of Berdoo ’65: Inside the Mother Charter (NYC, 2010, Bill Ray/Blurb) – and is mentioned in Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal work of ‘gonzo journalism’: Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (NYC, 1967, Random House)

In 1971 Mann answered an advert for a ‘motorcycle artist’, discovered in the back pages of a new biker magazine called Easyriders, and spent the remainder of his working life as in-house artist for the publication. His first centerfold painting for Easyriders appeared in October, 1971, and Mann reportedly produced artwork – centerfold paintings, story illustrations and adverts – for every issue from that first to his retirement in 2003, shortly before he passed away. His final piece, Sunset, appeared in the May 2004 issue.

One last toke for the road. Titled ‘Frisco Nights‘, this was Dave Mann’s first-ever centerfold for Easyriders. It appeared in the magazine’s third issue, in October, 1971. Mann reportedly created art for every issue between this and his final piece (below) published in May, 2004, along with additional illustrations for other magazines, book publishers, friends and collectors. That’s a hard-working artist!.
Sunset, May 2004 was Mann’s last original piece for Easyriders.

REPRESENT!

His earliest works were primitive – a cross between illustration and caricature – but as he gained experience Mann’s work took on a style reminiscent of the American painter Edward Hopper, who is best known for his iconic Nighthawks (1942). Look at the figures in Hopper’s work, and compare them to Mann’s. I certainly see the influence.

Edward Hopper The Nighthawks (1942)
David Mann Midnight Run (June, 1972)
Edward Hopper Summer Evening (1947)
David Mann Pick-Up (Want Some Candy?) January 1974
Edward Hopper Gas (1940)
David Mann Gas Stop (1967)

More than technique or style, however, Hopper and Mann shared the desire to illustrate and elevate the prosaic, the quotidian, the mundane everyday doings of regular people historically overlooked by representational artists. For Hopper it might be patrons seated in a late-night diner – an apparent oasis of light and warmth in an otherwise dreary cityscape – sharing space and yet isolated from one another, silent, bored. For Mann it could be the streetwalker ignoring her john to watch the more attractive, more enticing biker cruise by on his radical panhead chopper. Hopper might present a sweet moment between a young couple on a dark summer evening – you can almost hear the crickets singing – while Mann’s swain straddles a raked and stretched shovelhead as he chats up the object of his affections on a crisp autumn afternoon….

You get the point.

The Dilemma (September 1976) is one of my favorite Mann paintings of all time; I even have a small print of it framed above my office door. Dave’s attention to the minute details of this road-weary ‘rat’ panhead and rider is mind-boggling. Note the cracked and taped-together taillight lens, chipped paint on the fuel tank, mismatched tool bags strapped to the front forks and oil drips on the pavement below. Look at the rider’s military tattoos, too; his ragged cut-off vest, heavy engineer boots and greasy Levi’s, doubled up for added protection.
Then there’s the quiet humor of the scene – a hot hippie hitchhiker headed to that Haven of Hedonism, San Francisco, and the biker with no place to put her!
Sadly, this actually happened to my partner and I on our way to Sturgis. Our bikes were laden with camping gear, and we had no room to pick up two hitchhiking honeys we encountered just south of Oklahoma City! ๐Ÿ˜’
My rigid 1974 shovelhead and T.R.โ€™s rigid jockey-shift โ€˜73 shovelhead chopper on the first Friday of August, 1982, packed and ready for the run to Sturgis.
The Dilemma and the design for my Shovel Shop t-shirts. In the hall, vintage adverts for the Famous James motorcycles. See my post below about the marque, its history and my history with it.

And by ‘centerfold’ I merely refer to the fact that Mann’s work appeared in the center pages of each issue, where it could be removed (as so many of us did) and turned into a poster. Although many of his paintings included idealized images of women, his purpose was to document our lives as bikers, not provide masturbation motivation for horny teenagers!

STRAIGHT ON FOR YOU!

One perspective Mann relied on was full frontal….

….from his earliest efforts. This is Pacific Coast Highway Run, 1964
Easyriders Video #43 cover art
Easyriders Video #40 cover art
Easyriders Video #29 cover art
Easyriders Bikes & Babes Video cover art
Winter Ride, date unknown
A Cold Winter Ride, story illustration from Easyriders January 1990
Excelsior-Henderson, October 1998
First Ride of the Year, January 1993
Helmet Protest, January 1996, highlighted a political position dear to most bikers’ hearts: the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet when we ride. Even many of us who wear helmets by choice still believe the decision should be ours alone, and not left some government bureaucrat who has never ridden a motorcycle in his life. Mann revisited this theme over and over again through the years. This piece also shows his ability to capture complex objects like motorcycles at different angles in the same painting.
Inside Pass appeared in BIKER, July 2000. Dave was as skilled in painting automobiles as he was motorcycles, and capturing the action of two moving vehicles pitted in a wheel-to-wheel race.
Run to the Wall , date unknown. Many bikers are military veterans, and believe no service member should be left behind, so the cause of POWs and MIAs affects us deeply.
In Memory of Lt. Col. ‘Smilin’ Jack Potter, U.S.A.F. is a loving tribute to Jacquie’s father.
Even in self-portraiture: Dave Mann with Jacquie

Here is another of my favorites, a classic piece by Dave Mann:

Another favorite Mann painting. I’m unsure of the title – it may be First Ride of Spring – but I love the way it captures one of the happier moments in a biker’s life: hauling ass up a scenic road with his woman tucked in behind. I used this as inspiration for my own piece, seen below: a t-shirt design I created for the Motorcycle Rights Organization ABATE of Texas back in 1989.
My design as it appeared on t-shirts. This artwork predates the introduction of computers into my artistic toolkit, so please be kind.
The central image was all done by hand, and the lettering created letter by letter, line by line with Letraset
ยฎ rub-on letters.
Much to my surprise Letraset fonts are still available!
๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Mann returned to that theme many times in his career.

Coming at You, April 1975
It even inspired this homage by artist Shawn Dickinson, titled Wild and Wolfy

….as did Mann’s ‘Pacific Coast Highway Run’.

Werewolves on Wheels, Shawn’s tribute to Dave Mann’s Pacific Coast Highway Run….
….and the original: Pacific Coast Highway Run, date unknown

Another favorite was the reverse: the motorcycle moving in a straight line away from the viewer. He used both angles to great effect.

Mann’s follow-up to Coming at You appeared in a Jammers Handbook. Mann’s attention to detail extended even to the smallest things, like the oil spatter up this passenger’s left shoulder, excess lubricant slung off the rear drive chain at speed. You could always spot a biker chick by those chain tracks, and you could tell if she was packin’ on a Big Twin or Sporty by which shoulder was marked. I pissed off more than one woman passenger when their nicest tops ended up ruined that way! ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Carnival, September 1987. Note the graffiti at right.
Snow What appeared in BIKER, February 2003
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FREEDOM was a fundraising poster for some friends in Cleveland.
Storm Jammin’ appeared in Easyriders March 1989 and again in BIKER in October 2005. This one gets me because I took a soggy ride like this, from Austin to East Texas, to lay to rest a friend who died too soon…. as if there were any other kind. ๐Ÿ˜’

THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES

Mann’s technical abilities as an artist are undeniable but, as clearly demonstrated here, for those of us who ride it was Mann’s ability to illustrate the everyday aspects of our lives as bikers which so endeared him to us. He captured the emotional element – the ‘inner landscape’ Ms. Graham referenced in her quote – in painting after painting.. It might be two bikers blasting down an L.A. freeway, beards and club colors flapping in the wind, as one passes a joint to the other.

Hollyweed, November 1976. Note the altered ‘Hollywood’ sign high above the highway.

It might be a biker on his low, lean, radically stretched chopper, glaring balefully at the cop writing out a traffic ticket.

Busted, December 1974. Damn cops ruin everything, don’t they?

It might be a woman frustrated and angry because her old man, the insensitive prick, just passed a beer joint when she desperately needed a potty break….

Hey, What About….! December 1982.

….or another one of my favorites. showing a woman curled up against her man’s back, safe and secure and sleepy after a weekend of riding and camping out under the stars, while he steers his radical chopper back to the brightly-lit city in the distance.

Homeward Bound, January 1975

One of Dave Mann’s most iconic images has been stolen and reproduced on everything from t-shirts and coffee mugs to wall tapestries, area rugs and more. In ‘Ghost Rider’ Mann equates the hard-riding biker at the foreground to the hard-riding ghostly cowboy keeping pace with him. Some of the later reproductions went the politically correct route of erasing the SS lightning bolts Mann’s biker has on his fuel tank….

….and that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Ghost Rider, November 1983. Unofficial (read: stolen, ripped off, plagiarized) iterations of the image, on tapestries, t-shirts, et cetera, excised the SS lightning bolts from the fuel tank in a lame attempt at political correctness. If you see the Ghost Rider without lightning bolts you’re looking at a fake.

Mann covered breakdowns and break-ups, club life and solo riders, sleek choppers and road-warrior rat bikes, and brought to each painting the same skill and dedication to detail. He was our Frederic Remington, and we loved him for it.

Another favorite. Anyone who rides very long at all has been in a similar situation….

Middle of Nowhere, June 1981

….but try to make the best of it! ๐Ÿ˜†

Beer Run, July, 1978. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it! ๐Ÿ˜

BREAKING DOWN AND CRACKING UP!

Paul Simon once sang ‘Everything put together sooner or later falls apart,’ and that’s as true of motorcycles as anything else. In numerous paintings, Dave Mann captured the frustration and helplessness of that instant when your machine fails, and you realize there’s nothing you can do about it except sit and wait, or go for help.

Broken Primary Belt, October 1981.
I’ve been here! ๐Ÿ˜ก Primary Belt, January 2002.

In the early ’80s, on a ride through the Central Texas Hill Country southwest of Austin, I stripped the teeth off my primary drive belt while pulling up a steep hill. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. It grieved me to interrupt my friends’ ride that way, but I was stuck.

BTW, that was one of the very few times my shovelhead rode home in the back of a truck.

One of the reasons I have always been psychotic about building my bikes to be bulletproof, and making sure I can fix all but the worst breakdowns with tools and spare parts in my road kit is because I cannot stand to be that helpless, hapless rider stranded beside the road. I’d rather have people depend on me than have to impose on friends or, worse still, depend on the kindness of strangers.

In this instance, when I got the bike home and went to replace the wasted primary belt, I learned that I couldn’t have replaced the belt by the side of the road even if I’d had a spare belt with me; that the inner primary cover (which can’t be removed without an impact wrench and clutch-hub puller) wouldn’t let me take the belt off the engine pulley! Since I had the inner primary cover off anyway, I took the opportunity to grind down the bosses on the inner primary so that I could take the belt off without removing the inner primary. That’s just how I roll! ๐Ÿ˜

As an aside: I will never understand why some riders get angry when I mention tool kits and roadside repairs in that context. Seems to me everyone is better off if I can fix the problem by the side of the road and get on with the ride, rather than be forced to wait for a wrecker or a buddy with a trailer to come fetch me. Still, I’ve had riders – every one of them the sort I call ‘Born Again Bikers’ – get absolutely incensed at the notion that I am capable in that regard, as if my competence was – dare I say it? – a challenge to their manhood…. ๐Ÿ™„

And that’s a whole ‘nother post, too! ๐Ÿ˜

Oh, look! There I am making a minor repair to my shovelhead while on a run to the annual ‘Blow-In’ at Jim’s Motorcycle Shop in Axtell. Because I had the know-how and tools to accomplish that task, our group ride was not interrupted. Fifteen minutes of wrench twiddling, a quick test-ride, and then me and my date and my gaggle of buddies were back out on the road again! ๐Ÿ˜Ž
Lucky… or not. Broken Belt Bummer, March 1988. That kind of breakage happens often enough that it showed up in at least three of Dave Mann paintings, and in addition to my own adventure, I’ve seen it happen right in front of my eyes. Dog Breath, a good ol’ boy from Tennessee who worked with me at Bud’s, broke a belt on the street in front of the shop, trying to hotrod his shovelhead. Don’t see good ol’ steel chain doing something like that, do ya? ๐Ÿ˜† Or do ya? Check out the next painting.

Of course, it could be worse. You could be well and truly fucked, like this poor couple….

Fuckin’ Rain! Thunderstruck! September, 1982. I have seen smaller images of this painting for years, and noticed the rain and the woman retrieving the broken drive chain. It wasn’t until I discovered a larger image on the Dave Mann Facebook page (link at bottom of column) that I spotted the broken spokes on the rear wheel. If that doesn’t make you want to flip off the sky gods nothing will!

BIKER’S CODE

However, if you’re lucky enough to break down while riding with others, the Biker’s Code says ‘No biker left behind.’ By hook or crook or boot or rope, you’re both getting home.

This is titled Dark Roadside Repairs (April 1982) but it’s obvious to anyone who wrenches on bikes (or has ridden long enough to run out of gas) that the guy on the green bike (with a small Sportster tank) has run out of gas, and the guy on the black bike (with the larger-capacity fat bob tanks) has dropped his fuel line and is draining petrol into a beer can salvaged out of the ditch, to get the guy on the green bike to the next service station.
I have done that, and had it done for me, so I made the task a lot simpler by running a single tank held in place with a big rubber band. I could just remove the rubber band, take the fuel line loose, lift the tank off my bike and give the other guy all the fuel he’d need. No muss, no fuss, no scrounging for ‘clean enough’ beer cans or bottles in roadside ditches!
Sunrise Sunday Morning, Texas Panhandle, June 30, 1991

And if all else fails….

Push Home, November, 1978

Another scene most riders will recognize (or cringe from): the bike that just…. Will. Not. Start! I’ve never owned a Sportster, but I started my share during my years of working at Bud’s. I’ve also been that pissed at my shovel, when it’s been particularly coldblooded and cantankerous. Fortunately for me, those instances have been few and far between….

….and the next sound you hear will be me knockin’ on wood! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Damn Sporty! February, 1979
Won’t Start, May 1979
Kickin’ the Bitch, Bee Caves, Texas, circa 1982

Sadly, our machines aren’t the only things that betray us.

You can feel the rider’s frustration at the cager who recklessly or maliciously ran him off the road, then drove off and left him. This appeared in January 1986, as a story illustration.

Bikers are all too familiar with the cager who seems to have it in for us. Popular wisdom advises riders Don’t ride as if they can’t see you; ride as if they’re aiming for you! Unfortunately, I know from bitter experience that sometimes they actually are aiming for us!

This is the 1987 FXRS I spent two years rebuilding and adapting to my disabilities. I added the finishing touches to her on a Friday afternoon. Two days later, on a beautiful sunlit Sunday in late October, Jackie and I were riding on a narrow two-lane road east of Taylor, Texas, when a kid in a pickup going the opposite direction decided to pass a slower-moving automobile. He crossed the double-yellow line, looked me right in the eye and kept on coming. Then he drove away, leaving us for dead. ๐Ÿคฌ Fortunately, neither of us were badly injured, but the bike was totaled. FMTT! I got to enjoy my new-to-me FXRS for less than forty-eight hours before it was snatched away from me! Forty-eight fucking hours! Damn, I was pissed! Still am, in fact!

But if one of the bastards gets you, what can you do but heal as best you can, and dream of getting back in the wind where you belong.

Medicating a Broken Leg, October 1976

If you’ve ever built a motorcycle, you’ll recognize the anguished look on this fellow’s face, as he watches his freshly painted fuel tank head for a collision with the garage floor.

Oh, Shit! 1974

Mayhaps he needs a helper. Maybe a curvaceous blonde? Someone half-naked, perhaps? Yeah, that’ll do the trick! ๐Ÿ˜†

Parts Cleaner, January 1983

Or maybe he just needs a sandwich! ๐Ÿ˜

Take a Break, February 1984, IRON HORSE

GIRLS AND THEIR TOYS

In Mann’s art, women are primarily placed in secondary roles as backrests, bike washers, beer fetchers and sexual conquests. In Mann’s world, women rarely ride their own. In fact, of the hundreds of paintings Mann produced, I’ve only found a baker’s dozen thus far depicting women riders. However, to his credit, man or woman, when he painted them he brought the same skills, artistic integrity and vision to bear.

Big Bertha, December 1976, A woman on her own bike was still something of a novelty to a lot of bikers in the ’70s, even though women have been active in motorcycling from the very beginning. Look up the Van Buren sisters, or Effie and Avis Hotchkiss, for starters.
Bertha, Dragon Ladies MC
Ride Hard, Die Fast, 1968
Devil Dolls MC in BIKER (March, 2001) is a real-life ‘outlaw’ club for women.
I Just Don’t Give Up, July 1999, was a story illustration. She’s riding a Servicar with a homemade taco box on the back. 45″ Servicars and solo rides were a popular choice for women riders back in the ’60s and ’70s – I dated a woman who rode a 45″ solo in the early ’80s – but nowadays women ride anything the boys can ride, from high-tech high-speed sportbikes by the Japanese and European marques to full-dress Harleys and Indians.
Jesus Chrysler, April 1998
His and Hers, July 1987. Sportsters for the girls and Big Twins for the boys, with matching paint jobs. The boys are quite amused that they’ve got the women packing all the gear So much for chivalry, huh?
Solo Flight, a story illustration from Easyriders, November 1999. Coincidentally, November 1999 is when my solo flight ended! ๐Ÿ˜
Merry Christmas, Babe! This appeared in BIKER, December, 1999. Technically, the woman is not riding the bike, but she is receiving one as a Christmas gift. I think we can safely assume she’ll be riding as soon as the snow melts, and she gets some leather on over that lacy lingerie! ๐Ÿ˜
L’alibi, March 1997. Mann’s wife, Jacquie, made frequent appearances in her husband’s work for Easyriders. She’s shown here at the controls of a hot pink Evo constructed in Pro-Street Style.
Easyriders Video #13 cover art
Wild Women Don’t Worry, Wild Women Don’t Sing the Blues! I have no idea what the actual title is, but every time I see this painting that old tune by the late folk-blues singer Judy Roderick comes to mind.
….and Wild Women will look good on the cover of an Easyriders tattoo video!

Finally, what could be finer than doing something you love, like riding, and looking over to see the person you most love in this world enjoying the same thing?

Sunday Morning, July 1979.

I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON!

One of the downsides of biker life is the occasional brush with the law.

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Noise Infraction, September 1977.

I’ve gotten a couple of these over the years. One was right after I’d installed brand new mufflers on my bike! Turns out I was riding my motorcycle in that trooper’s personal ‘No Biker Zone’. I’ve learned there are a lot of those in this state. ๐Ÿ™„ I’ve come to see ‘too loud’ tickets as a sort of ‘road-use tax’; nothing to do but pay the piper.

My best road dog learned that the hard way. We were jamming through West Texas enroute to the Four Corners region when we were tagged by a state trooper near Sweetwater, Texas. On a busy Interstate Highway packed full of noisy highballing tractor-trailers and speeding cagers, he spotted us coming the opposite direction, doubled back and pulled us over. He actually claimed he could hear our exhausts over the noise of the semis and pickup trucks, despite the fact that my exhaust system was in excellent condition, and my partner’s was almost new. The trooper ignored the modified pickup that blasted past us as we stood there (leaving us all with tinnitus) and wrote us both tickets for ‘exhaust too loud.’

The first time I received a ‘too loud’ ticket, over a decade earlier, I was incensed because, as it happened, my mufflers were brand-new at the time. How could this asshole write me a ticket? I went so far as to call the Attorney General’s office, to see if this was even legal, and was told the law leaves ‘too loud’ to the discretion of the officer making the traffic stop. How can you argue against that in a court of law? You can’t, so I paid up, and gained the ‘road-use tax’ perspective.

In the Sweetwater incident, I paid my fine before we left the jurisdiction. I am scrupulous about such things, because I never want to give a cop an excuse, like an unpaid traffic ticket, to pull me off my bike. If they want me they’re gonna have to make something up!

However, my partner, who had never been through this, was overcome with righteous indignation, and swore he’d fight this outrage. Sure enough, when we got back from our week on the road, he had his motorcycle inspected, gathered all pertinent documentation, closed his clinic for two days and hied himself out to Sweetwater to wage war against injustice.

The upshot? He lost two days out of his practice, the cost of travel to Sweetwater and overnight accommodations, and had to pay a fine and ‘court costs’ amounting to more than three times what I’d paid the day I got the ticket. I refrained from saying ‘I told you so,‘ but I did tell him so! ๐Ÿ˜† As I said: nothing to do but pay the piper and get on down the road.

A final note: I mentioned the Sweetwater stop to my attorney at the time, who specialized in motorcycle-related law, and he said ‘Oh, that was Trooper _______.’ Apparently, the fellow who stopped us was renowned statewide for his hatred of bikers. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ Whatcha gonna do?

Welcome to Daytona Ticket in IRON HORSE, June, 1981

We’ve all had close calls like this one, too.

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Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks, September 1981
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Run Heat, July 1975.
In the early ’80s I was part of a pack of about forty motorcycles enroute to a party at Lake Buchanan when we got jacked up by a battalion of LEOs of every stripe. Every cop in the county must have been there! We had local yokels, county mounties, smokies, probably a dogcatcher or two, all drawing down on us with shotguns and automatic rifles! It was a nice day for a ride with friends until the po-po came ’round. They ran us through the mill – license, tags, VINs, warrantless searches – and came up with exactly one warrant, for an unpaid traffic ticket. Out of forty of us, they got to arrest one! I guess we weren’t the roving band of criminal kingpins they thought we’d be! ๐Ÿ˜‚

But sometimes the heat is more than just an inconvenient traffic stop or speeding ticket. Too many bikers have wasted years inside prison walls, and Mann showed their lives, as well.

Bum Beef illustrated a short story in Easyriders. FWIW, I never saw a prisoner’s toilet looking that nasty. In my experience, most cons keep their houses spotless, and especially their toilets.
Prison Memories illustrated another short story, about a convict who watches a young dirt-biker tearing up the fields outside the barred windows of his cell, and how the boy inspires him. One way that Easyriders stood out from all the other motorcycle magazines was with its publication of short fiction by a number of talented authors. Larry ‘Rabbit’ Cole was a particular favorite, as was Jody Via. I take great pride in the fact that, in addition to my first article, Easyriders also published the first short story I ever sold! ๐Ÿ˜ Sadly, Dave Mann did not create the illustration for it. What a feather in my cap that would have been!

On a brighter note, here Mann captures the joy on a rider’s face as he clears those gates. The first things he sees are his girl, a bottle of Jack, and his prized shovelhead chop. As an added bonus: Dave Mann and Jacquie stand at far right, ready to welcome him back to the world.

Prison Release, August 1982

HISTORY LESSON

Mann knew the history of our tribe, too, from the streets of Hollister, where it all began….

Wild One, March 1993, celebrates the ‘Hollister Riot’ of 1947, a raucous motorcycle rally and party that got out of hand, and gave rise to the whole outlaw biker phenomenon. In response to negative press about the incident, a spokesman for the American Motorcycle Association (as it was then known) reportedly claimed that the rowdies at Hollister were ‘outlawed’ by the AMA, which meant they would not be permitted to take part in AMA-sanctioned events. The AMA later went on to assure America that ‘99% of motorcyclists are upstanding, law-abiding citizens.’ It turned out the remaining 1% were just fine with the notion of being ‘outlaws’ – part of the elite rejected by the AMA – and were soon sporting patches declaring themselves ‘one-percenters’. The honor is jealously guarded by those who claim it, and anyone wearing the ‘1%’ patch or tattoo had best be prepared to defend it!
The infamous ‘Hollister riots’ photograph by Barney Peterson, which appeared in LIFE two weeks later, cemented in the minds of most Americans the image of motorcyclists as lawless, drunken ruffians. Unfortunately, the photo was staged. Peterson, assigned to cover the story, arrived too late to witness any of the ‘riot’ itself. Not wanting to miss out on his commission, he grabbed this fellow, later identified as Eddie Davenport of nearby Tulare. Peterson sat him on a motorcycle parked at the curb and artfully arranged bottles around the motorcycle, to make it seem the entire town was overrun by drunks on two wheels!

….through the early days of the custom bike scene.

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Ape Hanger Days (December, 1973) is one of Mann’s most widely recognized and reproduced images, topped only by Ghost Rider (November, 1983). From the bared brick behind the stucco wall to the ragged cut-off Levi’s jacket and the grease spattered on the rim and sidewall of the rear tire, the detail is astounding, and Angelo’s sweet little panhead is period correct and perfect in every way! The swastika is also period correct, although to Angelo the broken cross likely did not mean what it signifies today.
Only the gods know how many motorcycles (and paintings, and drawings, and tattoos….) Dave Mann’s works have inspired. This is a note-for-note replica of Angelo’s panhead from ‘Ape Hanger Days‘ by a fellow from Florida named Hollywood Tig.

A RABBIT HOLE:

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go down a rabbit hole for just a moment, to show you another painstaking replica: the late tattoo artist Richiepan’s reproduction of Dave Mann’s own red rigid-framed shovelhead, as pictured below.

Crazy Daveโ€™s Broad-Slide, AKA Slip-Slidinโ€™ Away or Brodie! above. Dave often appeared in his own artwork. This image is particularly prized by fans because it features his shovelhead in action, showin’ class in front of a joint named ‘The Shores’, not far from where Dave and Jacquie lived. Below is Richiepanโ€™s tribute bike.
Richiepan’s tribute bike in its prime.
Richiepan with his tribute to Dave Mann, prior to the disaster.
The Dave Mann tribute bike, and several others, after the trailer broke loose from the truck.
Oh, the humanity!

Further down the rabbit hole: a documentary about Richiepan, shared from The Vintagent’s tribute to Richiepan: https://thevintagent.com/2017/10/09/the-vintagent-selects-richie-pan-forever/.

OUT OF THE RABBIT HOLE AND BACK ON TOPIC:

Dave captured the club life of the Sixties….

My Old Gang (May 1979) depicts a number of Mann’s brothers in the El Forastero Motorcycle Club. Per David’s Facebook page (link at bottom of column) they are, from left: Tom Fugle, Greycat, Tiny, Skip Taylor and Dan Jungroth. They are often featured in Mann’s other paintings, as well.

….the custom bike movement of the Seventies….

Florida Freeway, October 1973

….the Eighties….

Family, August 1986

….the Nineties….

Cruisin’ Colorado, August 1998

….and into the new century.

Mondo, June 2001, is Mondo Parra of Denver’s Choppers, a respected custom builder from a long-lived, well known and historic chopper shop.

He gave us the prophetically named Last Call….

Last Call, painted shortly before he retired, appeared in BIKER June 2003

….and a glimpse into the future, come what may.

Future Riders appeared in BIKER October, 1999

HEARTBREAKING….

So many incredible paintings, but one of the images that most touches me is this, depicting a rider on his rigid shovelhead; the rider and bike from Ghost Rider, sans SS lightning bolts and cowboy. This time, the biker is alone in the desert hills, but the shadow behind him tells us he’s missing his woman, wishing she were still packing behind him for the long ride, tucked in behind him where she belongs. The tattoo on his arm and the title – In Memory Of… – suggest that she’s not just out of his life, but altogether gone from this world. So much emotion and history packed into one small frame!

Thankfully, I’ve never lost a lover to death, but I do know the ache of yearning for something you once possessed, and will never have again.

In Memory Of…, appeared in the August 1999 issue of BIKER. As noted below, it was painted with magazine staffer Clean Dean in mind. Dean had recently lost his wife to cancer, and Dave thoughtfully used Dean and Karen as models for the shadow figure on the rock wall.

Finally, another appearance by the artist himself.

Here’s the Mann himself in happy days, with the shovelhead that inspired Richiepan’s replica. He is pictured with his brother ‘Wild Bill’ and friend Squirrel.

DAVID WILLIAM MANN, September 10th, 1940 to September 11th, 2004. R.I.P.

Paintings ยฉ David Mann, found at https://www.facebook.com/davidmannstore, and

Shawn Dickinson, found at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063485559855

A great appreciation of Dave Mann by Mr. Timothy Schmitt appears at http://churchofchoppers.blogspot.com/2008/04/by-tim-schmitt-inside-artists-studio-on.html