Thursday, August 16, 2012

Revisited: Rock star motorcycle accidents

Bob Dylan
Since has removed all of the blogs I wrote for it three times a week from August 2009 to August 2011, I've decided to repost some that I feel may still have some relevance on Steve Says. 
I'll be adding these Revisited columns on a semi-regular basis, so please drop by if you're interested.
Here we go:
From Sept. 5, 2009
Rock star motorcycle accidents
Echo And The Bunnymen keyboardist Jake Brockman died in a motorcycle accident on the Isle Of Man on Tuesday evening, about a month before the sometimes brilliant British band's Fountains album hits stores.

Ironically, original Echo drummer Pete De Freitas died in a motorcycle accident while on his way from Liverpool to London 20 years ago.

This got me thinking about the other rockers who were killed or injured in motorcycle accidents and, since there will be a ton of two- and four-wheeled vehicles on the highway for the always busy Labour Day weekend, I present the following examples to you as cautionary tales to drive carefully:

Duane Allman and Berry Oakley
If it's strange that two Echo And The Bunnymen members perished in motorcycle crashes 20 years apart, it's downright eerie that the only two other rock musicians I could think of who met a similar fate were also in the same group. Allman Brothers Band co-founder and guitarist Duane Allman (ranked as the #2 guitarist of all time behind Jimi Hendrix by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003) was killed in Macon, Ga. when he lost control of his Harley-Davidson while trying to avoid a truck. Bassist Berry Oakley died 13 months later just three blocks away from the site of Allman's accident when he collided with a city bus. A bridge in Macon was named in Oakley's honour in 1998.

Bob Dylan
Mystery still surround's Dylan's July 29, 1966 motorcycle accident while coming over a hill on a highway near his home in Woodstock, N.Y. There are reports that it almost killed him, while others say it was staged to give him time off from a hectic recording and touring schedule and to help him kick a drug habit. Either way, he had a long convalescence period that he used part of to record with members of The Hawks (who soon afterward became The Band) at his home and in the basement of their nearby house known as Big Pink. These demo recordings were released as The Basement Tapes in 1975. Dylan's first studio album after his crash was the sparse, Nashville-recorded John Wesley Harding, which was released in December 1967. It often sounds like Dylan is wearing a motorcycle helmet when you try to make out what he's singing in concert these days.

Billy Idol
I'm not sure if this pop-punk progenitor was wearing one of those fingerless gloves he flaunted in the early '80s or let out a rebel yell when he went through a stop sign and was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle home from a Los Angeles studio in February 1990. The accident nearly cost him his leg, but not his ability to sneer, and prevented him from playing the T-1000 character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day because of his long bedridden recovery.

Steven Tyler
The Aerosmith singer was riding his motorcycle to pick up his daughter Mia from a babysitter on Jan. 24, 1981 when he hit a tree and tore open his heel. The injury took almost a year to heal. You'd think he would have used that time to come up with better songs than those that appeared on 1982's Rock In A Hard Place.

Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits' main man was in dire straits when his Honda collided with a Fiat in mid-morning London, England traffic on St. Patrick's Day in 2003. He broke his collarbone and several ribs and took months recuperating before he could write songs or return to the studio. Most people would have been happier if he returned to Dire Straits.

The soulful singer was in a motorcycle accident as a child, but it was his lupus that caused his facial scarring and hair loss. Those setbacks haven't prevented him from selling millions of records, dating Tyra Banks and marrying Heidi Klum. Life could be worse.

I still get all warm and tingly when I think of Ann-Margret writhing around in baked beans in the 1975 film version of The Who's Tommy, but the actress, dancer, singer and Elvis Presley ex-girlfriend was probably feeling anything but when she was thrown from a motorcycle in Brainerd, Minn. in 2000. She broke her arm and some ribs. Mmm ... baked beans.

Keanu Reeves
The Speed freak and master of gravity-defying acrobatics in The Matrix ruptured his spleen and broke some ribs in a 1988 motorcycle accident and was on crutches for several weeks after breaking his ankle during a 1997 crash. Reeves is on this list because he played bass in the '90s grunge band, Dogstar. I'd probably like to forget about that group as much as Reeves would like to erase his memory of motorcycle injuries.

Gary Busey
You probably think of Busey first as an actor and then as a bit of a whack-job, but he began his entertainment career as a drummer with The Rubber Duck Band, played in a group called Carp which released an album in 1969 through Epic Records, was featured on several Leon Russell recordings, sang "Stay All Night" on both Saturday Night Live and Late Show With David Letterman, continues to write music and was a dead ringer for Buddy Holly when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his incredible portrayal of the legend in 1978's The Buddy Holly Story. Busey wasn't wearing a helmet when he was severely injured in a Dec. 4, 1988 motorcycle accident that fractured his skull and had doctors fearing he suffered permanent brain damage. He was once very outspoken against motorcycle helmets, but is now an advocate of them. Hey, Busey isn't totally crazy after all.

David Hasselhoff
You probably think of Hasselhoff first as an actor and then as a guy who gets drunk, takes off his shirt and lies on a hotel room floor while trying to eat a cheeseburger — unless you live in Germany. The Hoff topped the German pop chart with "Looking For Freedom" in 1989 and had other hits there from the more than a dozen albums he's released. Hasselhoff and ex-wife Pamela Bach sustained minor injuries when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a pole in Los Angeles in 2003.

I'll leave you with the best of both worlds. Here's a clip of Hasselhoff showing off both his dulcet voice and motorcycle riding skills.


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