Irish Rich is the owner of Shamrock Fabrication, a "no frills" custom motorcycle and fabrication shop. Rich has been involved with custom motorcycles and hot rods for over 40 years, and is a member of the Sinners, out of Southern California. Rich and his motorcycles have appeared in Street Chopper, DicE Magazine, The Horse, Easyriders, and the Jesse James documentary "The History Of The Chopper". He also currently writes, and has written tech articles and feature stories for many of the custom motorcycle publications, and writes an ongoing column for Greasy Kulture Magazine.
"California, a prophet on the burning shore California, Ill be knocking on the golden door Like an angel, standing in a shaft of light
Rising up to paradise, I know Im gonna shine...."
Well, Part-timer Steve and I are riding out of here (Denver) tomorrow morning for L.A. A nice 1000 mile jaunt. Steve is going to ride his chopper that was in the Street Chopper Fall issue this trip. With his skinny-minnie gas tank, I can't wait to hit that 112 mile section of I-70 between Green River and Salina, Utah that doesn't have any services. That's OK, I did it when I was young, he'll have extra gas on his bike. Plus, I'm taking the Geezer Glide (Road Glide), so I got the Loctite and tools, HAHA!
Last trip out, we hit Las Vegas in the morning, and it was already 105 degrees. By the time we got to Baker, CA it was 115. We gassed up there, and I pulled under an old gas station's overhang for a little shade. Steve rides up next to me and parked, then he says....
Steve: Do you know where we are? Me: Yeah, sure, we're in Baker...there's the world's largest thermometer, it says 115....... Steve: No, DO YOU KNOW WHERE WE ARE???? Me: OK, where are we?
Steve: WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOJAVE DESERT!!! THE MOJAVE FUCKING DESERT!!!
I think he was delerious.....I thought I'd have to do like John Wayne did to Robert Stack in The High And The Mighty, when Stack was blowing it, and The Duke had to slap him back into reality again. That's when Stack uttered those immortal words "Thanks, I needed that!" But, Steve got it together after we had a TCBY sundae, and I didn't have to slap him after all.
This time around, Steve also plans on capturing a bunch of the trip on video and photos and as we go, and I'm going to take some snapshots as well - something I don't usually do on motorcycle trips anymore. This should be interesting.....if it goes well, Steve has this new wiz-bank program for editing all this stuff together. We might put some of it up on YouTube, with links from here. Who knows, if it goes really well, we might burn some DVD's with the whole trip.
We're gonna hang out in Burbank for a couple days with Frank Kaisler first. Frank has it all set up for me to interview Mike Parti on Friday the 3rd, and I'm really looking forward to that. Then we're gonna hit Bob's Big Boy in Toluca that night. Then from there, probably the NoHo Diner for a late night snack. Who knows, sometimes there's porn stars hanging out in the NoHo at that time of night.
Saturday We'll probably spend the afternoon with Superco Trev, then head down to Long Beach/Westminster for The Sinners July 4th party (hey that's the main reason for the trip!). Sunday we don't have any plans, and we'll hit the road for home Monday morning, and we'll wander around a little and get back here on the 9th.
So, if you see Steve and I at any of these places, don't be 'skeered to come up and say hello to us, OK?
A page from the Garage Magazine # 11 interview "Twenty Questions With Trevelen". ".....being a hero is like being a peanut butter & jelly sandwich". Check question #18 out, too.
Beautifull shot of Trev's El Jefe, probably still my favorite Superco bike. Photograph by Estevan Oriol, another person who's work I admire.
I came into LAX at 8:00am one time. When I got off the plane, there was a message from the person I was supposed to hook up with, and catch a ride to the LBC from. They got bumped off their flight in NYC, and thought they probably would get in to LAX around 1:00pm. Well, shit! So, I called Trevelen, and the resulting conversation went something like this:
Trevelen: RICH! Waaaasss 'sapening!
Rich: Hey, I'm standing in LAX...
T: Haaaa! Good one.....'sup man?
R: No man, I'm stuck at LAX, my ride won't be here 'till like 1:00 so I can go down to Long Beach.
T: Aw, fuck that! Come up here and hang with me and my dad at the shop. I'll run you down to LB after dinner. Hang tight, I'm coming to get you.
R: Cool, I'm in front of American's baggage.
A couple minutes later, my phone rings:
Trevelen: Man, I'm sorry, I gotta go up and talk to these movie guys or some bullshit, walk down and grab a cab, it's a flat rate to Downtown. I'll be back when you get here, and dad's here.
So, I grabbed this cab, and the cabbie did really well until we get to Downtown, and then he's like trying to make like he doesn't know the area, and he's running the meter up on me. I knew where we were, and finally I told him to ".....shut the fucking meter off " when we passed the shop the second time. We pull in the shop drive, and all of a sudden, he knows where we are, and now he says the fare is double, because we went over the L.A. River, and that means were out of Downtown.
So, I'm arguing with the cabbie, and Trev pulls up. He gets out, steps in between the cabbie and I, and says: "Hey, put your money away, I got this" . So, I step in front of Trev, and he puts the fist with YOUR tattooed on the knuckles under my chin and says: "Don't make me mess you up, man, I got this!". I let him pay, only because I didn't want to see the other fist with NEXT tatted on it.
I admire a lot of things about Trevelen, the least of which is his talent and craftsmanship when it comes to building bikes. That's a given. It's the intensity and passion with which he approaches life that you can't help but find infectious. It's that Downtown/East Los/El Lay kinda vibe. I'm the kind of guy who every now and then needs to get mentally "recharged" - you know, jazzed about building bikes and life in general, and visiting Trev for a couple days always does it for me.
Outside the world of bikes, a lot of people don't know what a talented artist and photographer he is. I mean, exhibit quality composition and work. And, I think what I admire the most about him is his love and involvement in his comunidad, his community. The Latino history of L.A. is a very important part of his life, and Trev feels you need to give back something to the community, and especially to the younger kids in particular. Trev feels that it's important that they have other choices besides "....bangin' and dopin' " as he says. That's why he gives talks to the younger school kids, and runs his L.A. Boxing Academy as an alternative to what they may see around them every day as they grow. Trev knows the "other side of life", and he hopes to show kids that there are other positive choices to make, and trys to show them that with hard work and education, and resisting the easy temptations of the streets, there isn't anything that they can't accomplish in life, and there isn't anything they can't become. That's a side of Trevelen that few people ever see.
"A man never stands so tall, as he does when he bends down to help a child."
McQueen working on his Jaguar SK SS between takes on the set of his TV series Wanted, Dead or Alive.
Steve McQueen, the undisputed King Of Cool. On the silver screen, McQueen could say more with a look, or a body inflection than most actors can say with 5 pages of script dialog. From Nevada Smith, to Bullitt, and Papillon, toTom Horn and The Hunter (the last two being released in 1980, the year McQueen died from cancer at age 50), nobody put themselves into a movie role like Steve McQueen did.
Aside from his acting, Steve McQueen was an avid motorcyclist, car and motorcycle racer, enthusiast, and collector, and for the most part never lost that "common man" aspect in his life, like so many Hollywood types do. When McQueen died, he owned more than 40 cars of all types, over 100 motorcycles of every vintage, and several aircraft. He didn't own them because he could, he owned them because he loved every mechanical aspect of those machines.
I think what I found most inspiring about Steve McQueen was the way he lived his life. McQueen understood that regardless of what your job was, or where your station in life fell, it was very important to take the time - no - MAKE the time to do what you really enjoyed, because that's how you recharge your spirit. Too often we loose our perspective on things, and forget where our priorities should lie. McQueen never lost his perspective. It was more common to find him thrashing thru the desert with Bud Ekins on one of his Triumphs , or out on Mulholland cutting a fast corner in his Cobra than it was to find him sitting with studio exec's. I know I get wrapped up in the day to day, and thinking of the way Steve McQueen went thru life always seems to reign me back in again.
A little sidenote on McQueen's above pictured Jag SK SS. It was one of 16 Jaguars that were basically a thinly legal street version of their factory Le Mans racer. McQueen bought it in '55, and it was originally white. McQueen had it painted a deep British Racing Green, and had Tony Nancy redo the interior in black leather. McQueen's buddy Von Dutch made a door to cover the glove compartment in engine-turned aluminum. The story goes McQueen didn't like his smokes and sunglasses flying out of the open compartment, so Dutch fixed him up. McQueen owned the car until around '67, then he sold it to Harrah, with the stipulation it remain on permanant exhibit in his museum. Sometime in the early '70's, McQueen wanted to buy it back, and it took him 2 years to do it. He owned it until he died. After his death, Robert Peterson acquired the car, and you can see it in the Peterson Automotive Museum today. I've seen it, and it is choice.
And, you want to know something creepy? Steve McQueen was supposed to go up to the Tate House the night that the Manson Family slaughtered everybody that was there. He changed his evening plans at the last minute, and decided not to go. Wow.
Here's a Robt. Williams painting that you don't see too often, and it's one of my favorites. It's The Panhandler's Awakening, and it's in the book The Hot Rod World of Robt. Williams.
While the humor expressed, and the pending outcome might seem cruel to some, the "old original" biker sense of humor with the chance opportunity for a "great prank" comes right on thru.
I'd like you to take in the rich detail of every element in the painting, right down to the tats and the style of the bikes, to the hole pattern in the panhandler's cast-off wingtip shoes. If anybody knows where I can get a print of this, Email me at: email@example.com
A good example of Robt. Williams' art for Roth's magazine ads.
Robt. Williams art samples for the famous felt patch sheets that Roth sold.
A page from my copy of The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams
On a trip to L.A. in June of '71, I wanted to see the Brucker's Cars of Stars, and Planes of Fame museum. I wanted to see Ed Roth's cars again, because I had heard Brucker had bought them all when Ed was going thru his divorce, and they were all there. What I didn't realize while I toured the place was that Ed Roth was working there - and probably that day as I wandered around, and that two large paintings I had looked at that day were done by Robert Williams.
I knew Robt. Williams' work only from the underground at that time, mainly Zap Comix, and Coochy Cooty. His art always blew me away with it's complexity and detail. It wasn't until a few years later that I found out that he was the man responsible for most of Roth's ad copy art and design from '65-'70, and had done the art for his felt patches,and other art for Roth. Robt. Williams had inadvertintly influenced me two times before I even knew who he was.
Robt. Williams went to work for Roth in '65, and was there working thru everything that happened in that shop until Roth closed up in '70. He also met his future wife Suzanne at Roth Studios, who is a great lady, and a supurb artist in her own right. Williams remarked that this (Roth Studios) was the first job he was ever issued a pistol along with his art supplies. Robert's commuter car then was a '62 Ford sedan, factory equipped with a 406ci. big block w/3 deuces and a 4 speed. While he was there, among others, he also worked with Jim Jacobs (later the Jake, in Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts). Robert Williams has been a lifetime hot rodder, and his early patrons were the Bruckers. That's how those two early Williams paintings wound up on exhibit in the Cars of Stars.
While some of Williams' art might not appeal to everybody (I love it!), his art relating to hot rods and cycles is something that draws everyone right in. It's his incredible detail in his paintings, and the mechanical knowledge he's gathered "living the life", that everybody can recognize right off. I don't think there's too many rodders or bikers that don't have prints of his Hot Rod Race, A Devil With A Hammer & Hell With A Torch, Blue Collar Bravado, or Hittin' A Glass Truck At Midnight hanging in their houses, garages, or club houses.
One time In the Spring of '01, ChopperDave was up at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, CA on a Friday night, and he was talking to Robert Williams. It's not unusual to see Robert up there in one of his Deuces, and I need to say right now, that if you've never been to Bob's on a Friday cruise night, you don't know what you're missing. If you're EVER in the area, DO IT! Anyways, in passing Dave mentioned that he had a friend in Denver that had a big appreciation of his history and work. Robert told Dave if I'd like to send out any of his books, he'd be glad to personalize them for me. Needless to say, I didn't hesetate!
That Fall of '01, at Jesse's No Love Party, Dave came up to me and said he had a couple people he wanted me to meet, and he took me around the corner of the shop, and Robert and Suzanne Williams were standing there. Man, talk about being blind-sided. I was a little intimidated at first, but we must have talked for at least an hour about the party, his cars, his art, Suzanne's art, what I did, both their time at Roth's - and I have to tell you, I've never met two more gracious and genuine people in my life. It was truly an experience I'll never forget, and it isn't often you get the chance to stand and talk to somebody who's influenced you, and who's work you've enjoyed ever since high school.
Talking to Robert Williams in '02 one time, Suzanne Williams had overheard us talking about Roth's Choppers Magazine. When we were finished, she said she'd overheard me saying I had a full set of them, and I told her yes, that I'd had them since they first published.
She asked if I had an issue that had a paragraph cut out of one of the stories, and I said yes, and that I'd always wondered about that. She proceded to tell me the story
It seems in a story about one club , there was a paragraph in it that another M/C Club had objected to. The member of the objecting M/C had been in the shop when the new issues had come out, and had picked one up to read, saw the offending paragraph, and told Roth no fucking way was that going to stay, and he wanted it out of the story.
Well, Suzanne said, Ed had them all printed and ready to go out, and he was too cheap to reprint them over again, but he knew he was in a tough spot, so he took all the issues out in the shop, and had the young Roth boys all sit down and take razor blades, and cut the offending paragraph out of every single issue. As they were cutting the paragraphs out, Ed was bundling them up, and that's the way they all went out!
Well, when issue # 12 of Garage Magazine came out, There was an article in it intitled "Lost Prophet, The Forgotten Ed Roth.......Almost". It was an article with Darryl Roth recounting some of his memories of his father, and of his time spent at his father's shop. In it he recounts how he and his brothers had to sit in the shop, and cut these paragraphs out of one of the Choppers issues, and he says there were 10,000 copies!
Soooooo....after I finished up reading Garage, I went down to "The Vault" (as everybody calls my den that has most of my collections) and dug out my May '68 Issue of Choppers. I took this picture, and sent it off to Stoner, the editor of Garage, and he printed it in issue #13, in the "The Family" section of the magazine.
Frank cuts a dashing ( ? ) road figure in '73. Check out the bike, and double-check those Frye harnass-strap boots. Frank was stylin'!
Yep, that's our boy. Allright Frank! From his Easyrider magazinedays, around '79
Frank Kaisler today......
A person who I have mucho respect for is Frank Kaisler. Good friend, wordsmith, builder, rider, editor, historian, photographer extrordinare - there aren't enough descriptive words for Frank. If there was a poster person for seeing it all, doing it all, and doing it again, it would be this guy. When I come to L.A., outside of my Sinner Brothers there are three people I absolutely always visit - Pat Leahy, Superco Trevelen, and Frank.
Frank Kaisler has been immersed in the motorcycle world forever. I think when Frank was cutting teeth, his mom gave him a Harley kickstand to gnaw on. I even have a Roth Choppers Magazine from July '69 with a letter from Frank, with a picture of his then chopper in the letters column. From his early days in MD., hanging with people like the legendery Sonny Routt, and Jack Burns, on to his days with Easyriders, and into his work for Peterson Publishing and Primedia, and his editorialship for Hot Rod Bikes, and BikeWorks, Franks' portfolio is pretty impressive. But, a more down to earth, genuine guy you'd be hard pressed to find in this business.
I finally got to meet Frank personally in Sturgis one year, and once we got rolling, I thought I knew a lot of people, but Frank knows those people too, and everybody else besides. There isn't anybody that Frank doesn't know in this business, and he can give you a short ( ? ) biography on each one of them from memory, if you twist his arm (yeah, right....like you have to do that!). Plus, his general automotive and motorcycle history knowledge is extensive, not to mention his historical knowledge of Sothern California itself is truly amazing.
You've all seen his photographic skills in shooting feature bikes, articles, and events over the years, and I'll just say I think that there are two people in this business that can absolutely capture the feeling and personality of a motorcycle event, and one of them is Frank Kaisler. And, his eye for the girls at these events is pretty sharp, too! I had the pleasure of having Mr. Kaisler shoot my White Heat bike for Street Chopper magazine, out in Long Beach, right in the middle of Jesse's No Love Party one year. There were a couple thousand people riding and walking by, and Frank never flinched once as he worked.
So, right now, why isn't Frank heading up some custom bike publication? What pencilnecks are overlooking this guy when it comes to the job of editor? I think it's a goddamned shame that Frank isn't at the helm of some custom bike magazine anymore, and the sooner he gets back to where he deserves to be, the better off the whole custom bike world is gonna be for it.
When I was about 10 years old, I used to hit the library's periodical rack so I could read the latest issue of Hot Rod magazine. Behind their main rack, they had a cupboard with all the back issues of each magazine stacked by year. I'd read the latest issue, then I'd grab 5 or 6 back issues to read. I was going thru the Feb. '60 issue, and Bob Greene had an article in it titled "No Two 'Wheels' Alike". I guess I should also add that Bob Greene was the first editor of Cycle magazine, and was also the first editor of Motorcyclist magazine. Bob also handled the motorcycle content for Hot Rod magazine in his column "Up On Two Wheels". Yeah, Bob knew his stuff.
In the above mentioned article, the lead-off picture was of this big bald-headed guy, rockin' Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, jeans, engineer boots, sleeves cut off his grubby sweatshirt at the armpits, standing behind the baddest 'sickle I'd ever seen. If you'd like to see that shot, I used it in my article in Greasy Kulture #8. The more I stared at the picture, the more I wanted a bike just like that, and I wanted that magazine. So, I took the magazine, slipped it in my shirt, and I stole it from the library. I guess that was my first "outlaw" act. I still have that magazine, by the way.
Over the years, every time Dick, or "Hirsch" as Bob Greene called him, would decide to build a new bike, Bob would feature it in his column. I really didn't know much about Hirsch, but I knew he could put together "diamonds out of coal" Harleys. It wasn't until much later that I found out who Dick was, and what part he played in both the bike and M/C club history of SoCal.
The bike that's pictured in the above photo was built by Dick sometime in '69, out of a BRAND NEW ElectraGlide. Dick was 46 at the time, and it was his first "electric foot" bike. He, along with help from L.A. H-D, produced one of the slickest bobbed Estart FLH's ever, pruned down to 525 pounds. Now, mind you, this bike was done almost 2 years before the first Super Glide hit the streets. If somebody in Milwaukee wasn't looking at the March '70 issue of Hot Rod back then, I'll eat my leather stroker hat!
Even today, Hirsch's ElectraGlide would be "right there". The styling is timeless. Also pitching in on this was Dick's longtime friend and drinking buddy Von Dutch, who did the engine turning, lettering, striping, and engraving on it. Dutch's touch graced every bike that Hirschberg built
"Skinnier rear tires, more power, more gears, less weight, less rake, less bullshit". That was the philosophe that Indian Larry shared with me when we finally met in Sturgis in '01. It showed in everything Larry built. He had just finished his ride from The LBC with Jesse, ChopperDave, and Giuseppe Roncen for Motorcycle Mania II. It was Dave that introduced us, and it was a big treat for me, because I had followed Larry' work from the old Iron Horse magazine days.
Larry was just on the verge of "blowing up" then, getting to be really well known with the general public, and on his way. I ran into Larry at all kinds of events after that - WCC's No Love Party, the Horse Smokeouts, Sturgis, etc. But, Larry was always the same guy to me that I met before. He always had a big smile and a warm handshake, remembered what bike I'd been working on the last time we saw each other, and always wanted a progress report. Larry was the consumate 'sickle jockey, Larry was a very cool guy.
I remember being at one big event, and seeing a big-time builder having people standing in this huge line for a picture autograph session, and he didn't bother to show. I looked across the aisle, and there was Larry, with a big crowd around him, giving away personalized autographed posters, posing for pictures, and talking to whoever walked up to him. It was mid-afternoon and hot, and he had been going since 9:00am that morning, and was still in his booth at 10:00pm that night greeting people.
I had the pleasure of introducing Larry to two guys in particular. The first was CJ Allan, who struck up a great friendship with Larry, and in the process CJ engraved several of Larry's bikes, including the Chain of Misterey Bike above - some of, if not the best work CJ has ever done. The other guy was "Pistol Pete" Slactowitz up in Sturgis one year, who owned Deep Cut Rotors at the time. He and Larry worked out a deal to produce the famous signature " ? " rotors Larry ran on his bikes, and they did it all on a handshake deal, never writing a contract down on paper. But, that's the kind of guy Larry was. You can see one of the rotors thru the rear spokes in the COM picture above.
"A firery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'HI-YOOO Silver!', the Lone Ranger rides again!" Man, when I was a kid, the Lone Ranger was my hero, and he's still a hero to me today. If there was ever a figure that stood for honor and justice, it was he, played by Clayton Moore. The Lone Ranger, his "......faithfull Indian companion" Tonto, and the "Lone Ranger's Code" they lived by instilled in me the important values of friendship, integrety, fair play, honesty, and living by a man's word as you go thru life.
I wasn't the only one who felt that way. I remember when in the late '70's when they were going to make a new Lone Ranger movie, the studio got an injunction against Clayton Moore which forbid him from wearing his mask in public appearances, and representing himself as the Lone Ranger, because they were going to use a much younger star for the part, and didn't want any "confusion". This sparked an avalance of mail, phone calls, and telegrams from all over the world, all expressing outrage at the studio's treatment of Clayton Moore. The result? The movie bombed, it flopped, and the injunction was silently lifted.
Clayton Moore is the only one on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that has both his name, and the name of the character he played, embossed on his star. It's on Hollywood Blvd., right across the street from Mann's Chinese Theater. And, the rock formation he reared Silver in front of at the beginning of each episode is still standing in Chatsworth, CA, although "civilization" has crept as close as it can to it. Google "Lone Ranger Rock" if you'd like to know it's location.