When it comes to being famous, Elvis Presley can probably claim to be second only to the Good Fella above. But God didn't (in fact) ride a Harley-Davidson
EP was well known for his love of pink Cadillacs, but less people know that he was a pretty keen biker too. Naturally, being an American and a rock 'n' roll star, his main interest lay in Harleys, but he also owned Triumphs, BMWs and even rode a Honda in Roustabout - not one of his best movies, it has to be said.
The Big E was prone to 'persuading' the local Memphis police to close off sections of the highway at night so he and his mates - the 'Memphis Mafia' - could blast up and down on their bikes. And apparently Elvis was no pussy on a motorcycle either, thrashing his Hog repeatedly along what is now Elvis Presley Boulevard at 110mph, which was certainly as fast as a Harley could go then.
But the most famous bike-related story involving The King is the lost Elvis-Harley legend. It goes like this: Some geezer is clearing out his shed, finds an old Harley and discovers an inscription on the mudguard or under the seat saying either 'To Elvis from Priscilla' or 'To James Dean from Elvis.' Said lucky geezer then sells the bike to Harley-Davidson for heaps of cash, usually said to be in the region of $4 million. Harley-Davidson's PR company say the story is nothing more than an urban myth. But some of Elvis's bikes do still exist and Harley does own one (a 1956 KH model) which is on display in its museum.
When one of his mates bought a Triumph 650 Bonneville for Christmas in 1964, Elvis - who at that time was a staunch Harley fan - asked if he could ride it and was immediately smitten by the British bike's handling.So impressed was he in fact, that he bought nine of them for all his Memphis Mafia hoods and assembled them in the driveway of Gracelands at 3am for a ride-out. For the next few weeks, The King's biker gang roared in and out of the gates at all hours until the neighbours signed a petition demanding the noise stopped. Elvis simply laughed and bought a trailer to transport the bikes to and from the gates!
But you wouldn't catch Elvis riding in any old weather. He was strictly a fair weather rider and told a fanzine that "motorcycles are not made for the winter time at all, but I get a real thrill out of riding them when I'm at home and it's kinda warm. Ma'am."
So he was no despatch rider - so what? Elvis Presley, the greatest icon of the 20th Century, was a biker like the rest of us. Wonder what he would have made of a FireBlade if he was still around today...
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