The King Elvis riding on the road, Rock ‘n’ Roll and motorcycle culture forever connected.
From exhausts to amps, the gap is not so wide. Originally, Elvis. Big Bang of Rock’n’Roll, the King and his Harley forever linked the iron horse to the sound of a new era.
Bikers and Rockers, we were alike, almost identical: jackets and leather boots, marginality, individualism, freedom and rebellion. Shouting and rushing out to feel alive!
In 1969, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper achieved the synthesis of a new mythology. Easy Rider, in which motorcycles were exploring the 60’s idealized America both as a vantage point and an object of worship. This spiritual quest was already lost, apart from the acknowledgment of a marginal lifestyle: The beatniks’ legacy which was pervading at the crossroads of cultural medias, in cinema, literature and in music. Around the bike, were focusing crossed-culture codes, the poetry of Thom Gunn (The Sense Of Movement, 1957), Marlon Brando as a threatening rebel (The Wild One, 1953), or the saturated post-Hendrix rock guitars.
The movement was starting, freedom and rebellion, rock’n’roll and motorcycles engaging in a race for more power. The golden age of the Continental Circus (Agostini dominating the world championship), and the emergence of Heavy Metal in the wake of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, multifaceted style named after Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild – “… Heavy metal thunder …” featured on the soundtrack of Easy Rider, bikers everlasting anthem, perfectly adjusting its sharp chords to the pistons mechanical rythm.
Rock and motorcycle, that were already connected at the dawn of the sixties, continued their parallel paths, creating a common style, sunglasses and leather jackets, in the same rejection of a narrow and conservative society. But all is not only fury where music and engines are converging. There are the beauty of the melodies, syncopated rhythms, the dance or the finesse of a faultless trajectory.
The emotional ebb and flow of the musician sometimes shares an uncanny closeness with the bikers sensations: the loneliness of the road, the difference, the absence of ties that trace the outline of their lives. Therefore bikers instinctively recognize themselves in the emblematic Bob Seger’s song, Turn The Page, which describes the wanderings and weariness of a gig touring rocker. Metallica’s cover, in 1998, highlights the evolution of both worlds in the same direction: total commitment to a magnified past, but always faster, stronger.
Another concordance does exist in the ambiguous relationship with death, the ultimate frontier against which no one can fight. Here, we need to ignore it, laugh at it, or dismiss it to a mere possibility. The present time is the only certainty, provided that we live it intensely. In 1986, Motörhead summarizes this state of mind as a highlight of the rock’n’roll philosophy: Built For Speed.
“I was born to rock’n’roll, everything I need, I was born with the hammer down, I was built for speed.”
Whatever we choose: the groove of a vinyl or gasoline and oil, we just need to plug the amps, or kick start the engine. Nothing feels better in this world than the certainty of being on the right track.