Monday, December 03, 2007

Cunning Stunts

I can't let the passing of an icon of our 70s childhoods go uncommemorated. It was because of Evel Knievel and his increasingly daring (aka 'cracked') vehicle and canyon leaping motorcycle stunts that we tried to pull wheelies on our Raleigh Choppers and Tomahawks and assembled odd bits of plank and plywood in the back lane into perilous 'jumps' (the plywood always snapped).

My best friend Steve had the Evel Knievel action figure and stunt bike that you charged by winding a big plastic wheel then released at speed to careen across the living room carpet and crash spectacularly into stunt props or, possibly, the horribly exposed ankle of a passing sibling. You could even get a toy version of the rocket he used to not-quite-cross Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho.

It was Evel Knievel this, Evel Knievel that. For a while only Starsky & Hutch loomed larger in our canon of boyhood saints. There were even Evel Knievel jokes, as Mrs H reminded me the other night, viz:

Q: 'Why was Evel Knievel late home?'
A: 'Because he missed the last bus'

(This very British joke must date from 1975 and Knievel's Wembley Stadium attempt to jump 13 single-decker buses. He crashed - and announced his retirement - but was back jumping five months later).

Knievel died on Friday having suffered from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis for many years, the climactic ailments in a long chain that began with blood transfusion-contracted Hepatitis C.

I suppose we really should be playing something contemporaneous in tribute, like Chris Spedding's 'Motorbiking' from 1975 - which I don't have; this, however, seems equally apt...

Aztec Camera - 'Jump' (1984)



  1. Is Eddie Kidd still alive?

    (I posted 'Motorbiking' a couple of weeks ago)

  2. News of Eddie Kidd's struggle here. Yikes.

  3. I chiefly remember him for inspiring the classic Dennis Waterman quote from The Sweeney, after a particularly hair-raising car chase: 'Who do you think you are, Evel Knie

  4. vel?' (I was cut off in my prime-trust Blogger comments to ruin a good line).

  5. The thing that is so wonderful about Evel was that he actually wasn't that good. He was an incredibly brave man though who knew how to put on a show. I am convinced he knew that he was going to total it half the time. It can't have help by him insisting on using a Harley for his jumps. This was probably (almost certainly) a mistake as a Harley weighs as much as a samll planet and isn't really made for jumping over 12 and half buses before crashing in a spectacular heap.

    I recommend the film he made in teh 70's where he jumped a motorbike onto the top of a lorry as it emerged from a tunnel. Marvellous.


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