Monday, February 3, 2014

Today in motorcycle history, February 3, 1959



  The day the music died.  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson are killed when their plane crashes outside of Clear Lake, Iowa.

  Buddy Holly had bought a 1955 500cc Triumph TR5 Trophy in 1956 only to be forced to sell it due to The Crickets constant gigging in pursuit of stardom.

  On May 13,1958 the "Lads from Lubbock" were just coming off an extensive tour which had taken them to Australia, England and across the States.  They were worn out from the long tour, but their pockets were full of cash and they were ready to spend it.  Buying new motorcycles seemed like the only logical thing to do.  They flew into Love Field in Dallas, Texas, figuring their choice of bike shops would be far better than in Lubbock.

  Calling a cab, Buddy, J.I. and Joe B. first went to the East side of Downtown Dallas where there were numerous shops on Main and Elm Streets. The story goes that they first visited a Harley-Davidson shop where the salesman told them not to touch the machines and insinuated that they leave the store.  He allegedly said they were "...a bunch of dumb kids who couldn't even afford the monthly payment."  It never occurred to him that these boys might have pockets full of money and he made no effort to find out or sell them anything.  Not much has changed at new bike/H-D dealerships.  Fucking salesman.  Three of the most popular rock and roll musicians in the world walked out in disgust, with their pockets still full of cash.

  The trio jumped into another taxi and asked the driver to take them to a different dealer.  The cab-driver, who also didn't know who they were, dropped them off at Miller's Motorcycles, a multi-marque British motorcycle dealer a few blocks away.

  Having just been treated like shit, Buddy took no chances this time and introduced himself and his two cohorts to owners Betty and Ray Miller...and showed them a rather large wad of cash.

  Seeing all that cash and sensing that he had the sale of three new motorcycles at his finger tips, Ray told the boys to pick out any bikes off the floor they wanted and take them out for as long as they needed.  After trying out just about every bike in the shop for the better part of the day, the choices were finally made.

  Buddy Holly bought a 1958 Ariel Cyclone which had that unique Ariel beige seat.  It had higher handlebars and a hotter engine with high-compression pistons and a Spitfire cam.  It was basically a Huntmaster twin which used BSA's 650cc A10 40 bhp engine.  The attention-grabbing Cherokee red and black paint job with white striping was designed specifically for the American market and was produced for only one year.  According to factory records only 174 were made and all were exported except one.

  Drummer Jerry Allison chose a red and white 1958 Triumph TR6A and bass player Joe Mauldin picked a red 1958 Triumph 6T Thunderbird.  Holly also bought some saddle bags for the Cyclone and all three bought gloves and motorcycle caps as well.

  The "dumb kids" paid cash for everything, about $3,200.


  "...something touched me deep inside/ the day the music died..."