Monday, January 30, 2012

Death Riders

If you found this post because you were searching for a rock band named Death Riders (there's at least two bands I found online using variations of the name), you're probably in for disappointment because this post is about the original Death Riders.

The Death Riders were a "motorcycle thrill show" who performed death-defying stunts at fairs around the country in the 1970's and early 1980's.

Here's the Death Riders poster I got when I saw them perform at a fair in my town.   I think this is basically the only place you can see this poster on the entire Internets (at least in this quality).

If you looked closely you may have noticed that the poster was even signed by two Death Riders - George Sisson and Larry Mann.

When I was looking for more info on the Death Riders I was surprised to discover they were the subject of documentary appropriately titled  Death Riders (1976)

As you can see in the frame-grab below both George and Larry conveniently got credited next to each other. Larry even narrates most of the film too.

Larry kinda reminds me of a 70's version of Max Hodges from TMZ.  Well, maybe they basically only have their hairstyle in common.  Although I doubt Max ever spends his Saturday nights alone, and within the first few minutes of Death Riders Larry says, "If the show goes smooth and looks good -  you don't have to hunt for girls, they hunt for you."  So I guess they both have "ladies man" thing in common too.

A highlight of sorts is gig at a nudist colony.  Larry, known for his "people jumps," jumps over line of nudists.  It's not a pretty sight.

Since I was in single digits when I saw the Death Riders perform there are only two stunts that I can remember.  One was the tunnel of fire...

Yeah it's hot.  I can remember feeling the heat from the flames, and we were sitting in an air conditioned glass enclosed grandstand.  If I'm remembering correctly the Death Rider wiped out near the end of the tunnel.  He wasn't severely hurt, but his leathers got kinda toasted.

The second was the human bomb.  Since we were sitting by large glass windows they had us move back about 20 feet in case the shock wave from the blast shattered the glass.   The stunt went down exactly as it does the documentary film.

Now you see the man in the box...

...and now you don't.

Oh hey look, they're selling the poster at the end of the show...

Heck, here's another shot of the poster.  This it's time hung in a store window.

Spoiler Alert: The final highlight of the documentary is Larry breaking the World Record for his "people jump."

To read a more detailed review of  Death Riders please click here, or thanks to YouTube,  you can watch the entire documentary below...

If you'd like to know more about the Death Riders "motorcycle thrill show,"  the closest thing to an official Death Riders site is,  but the place to find the most pictures and information is at The Thrill Champions.


Doc Zaius said...

That's how we liked our live entertainment in the 70s and early 80s: down, dirty with the chance of a horrible disfiguring death hanging in the air! Great post! (They should have had a Saturday morning live action TV show. Just add a couple of really attractive 70s teenage girls, a motorcycle riding chimp and put them all in a rock band and its pure 70s TV gold!)

Margie said...

Larry Mann is my brother! This is great! Did you know he is a sound editor in L.A. and has been for thirty plus years! That autograph you have of his could be worth more you know? Google his name, Larry Mann, sound editor! He even won an Emmy!

Gray Wolf said...

Larry's first bike was Hodaka 175 he learned to ride it on our driveway, later he trained on motocross tracks and competed in races. Larry loved Evil Kaneval and read everything could about him. When I was in the Marines mom wrote me that Larry was in the Death Riders so mom was getting grey hairs with one son in the Marine Corps during Vietnam and another jumping through fire on a motor cycle. In 1973 when I was home on leave I flew up to Detroit to see Larry jump over 11 Ford pick up trucks and 50 people at the Shrine Temple. Mind you this was an indoor stadium with tile floors. Quite a feat of skill if you ask me.

David W. said...

Thanks for the Larry Mann info Margie and Gray Wolf. Larry has lived a very interesting life indeed. His sound editor credits listed on IMDb are quite impressive!


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