September 3, 2004
Indian Larry is dead at 55
Larry Desmedt - known nationally as Indian Larry - who dedicated his life to becoming "the best chopper builder in the world," died Monday of injuries suffered two days earlier while doing a stunt in Charlotte, North Carolina.
His wife, Bambi the Mermaid of Coney Island, said the stunt that killed him was not a particularly dangerous maneuver.
Read Wolfgang Saxon's superb New York Times obituary of this one-of-a-kind artist of "the big roar."
Indian Larry, Motorcycle Builder and Stunt Rider, Dies at 55
Larry Desmedt, a New York-based custom motorcycle builder and biker better known nationally as Indian Larry, died on Monday in Charlotte, N.C., of injuries he suffered doing a stunt on Saturday at an appearance there.
He was 55 and lived in the East Village.
His death was announced by Timothy White, a photographer and friend.
He said Mr. Desmedt had gone to Charlotte for the filming of a new segment in a series shown on the Discovery Channel, "The Great Biker Build-Off."
Indian Larry, who had his workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was a legend among biking enthusiasts and other custom builders.
He regarded his craft as a form of art and, Mr. White said, got his nickname from the classic brand of a motorcycle he rode years ago.
He had gone to Charlotte for the shooting on Saturday of an episode of "Biker Build-Off," in which he has successfully competed with other riders of custom-made two-wheelers.
The accident happened afterward in a parking lot, with a crowd of thousands watching.
Mr. White said Indian Larry, wearing a protective suit but not a helmet, was standing on his bike as he went down the parking lot in a crowd-pleasing routine and may have been blinded by the sun; he fell and hit his head.
He died early Monday at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
Larry Desmedt was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.
His wife, Bambi, and Mr. White described him as a lone wolf, who was a familiar figure to fans across the country but never joined a motorcycle gang.
He was known among bikers as a metal sculptor and highly skilled mechanic.
His first motorbike was a 1939 Harley Knucklehead he bought for $200 when he was a teenager, he said in a Rolling Stone interview.
Within hours, he had taken it apart, and it took him nine months to put it back together.
Later he went to California to apprentice himself to one of his heroes, the hot rod builder Ed (Big Daddy) Roth.
He spent a wild youth and was a frequent subject of his friend the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who was attracted to his "crash and burn" way of life.
But in 1991 he decided to become "the best chopper builder in the world,'' according to a autobiography scheduled for publication by Crown in 2005, and devoted himself to becoming what he called a motorcycle artist.
His most famous motorcycle, called Grease Monkey, was named Easy Rider magazine's chopper of the year.
Besides his wife, a performer billed as Bambi the Mermaid of Coney Island, Mr. Desmedt leaves his mother, Dorothy Desmedt, and a sister, Tina Wells, both of Middletown, N.Y.
It was not a particularly dangerous maneuver he performed on Saturday, Bambi Desmedt said.
"It was showing off, his way of blowing off steam after the bigger stunts," she added, "winding down."
Note: on February 12, 2005 I finally watched the "Biker Build-Off" episode featuring Indian Larry v Mondo.
It was filmed during the summer of 2004, with filming for the episode as originally envisioned ending on Saturday, August 28.
Later that afternoon, after the voting was completed, Indian Larry went out and demonstrated some stunt riding.
He fell, hit his head, and died two days later.
My thoughts on watching this show for the first time are noted in this February 13, 2005 entry.
September 3, 2004 at 06:01 PM | Permalink
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Tracked on Feb 12, 2005 8:31:50 PM
Tracked on Jul 12, 2005 8:36:27 AM
I wish I would have listened to my mother Theresa when she said you have always been super creative and walked this earth in a fancy that no one had ever seen. We will meet sometime, someday, and we will bend that steel with heat, and lay a track of fire down the highway.
Posted by: brandon | Feb 26, 2010 10:15:32 PM
So many years have passed and I still remember those bikes and cant but wonder what you might have made now.With unlimited funds which I dont think really mattered to you.When I watched those shows on tv the difference I saw was that you really loved building these machines.So someday when I die I will see what you build now .RIP and it doesnt matter what any fool says now you were true ......
Posted by: Fred Gaehring | Jun 3, 2007 10:25:01 PM
larry... ive always wanted to be a bike builder... i first heard about you when i was five... and you have always been my hero and my inspiration... i loved your style and still do... from what i heard you were a one of a kind person... one that cant be replaced... i used to go to your site everyday and look at your bikes... and i cried the day you died... because even though i never knew you i admired you deeply..... sorry im this late guys but im doing a report on larry for engish and come across this site........ hope you rest in peace man... maybe someday ill be half the builder and person you was....... R.I.P my freind
Posted by: david | May 8, 2007 12:03:08 AM
Larry, you are now truly in the wind... May you ride long though the clouds... Thank you
Posted by: Daniel | Apr 12, 2007 12:31:53 AM
Ya know he was a real nice guy. He looked scary as Hell and he scare my lilly white ass! But, to listen to him talk he was the real deal. Just a genuine person. I saw a clip with him handing out t-shirts once. He was just amazed at the throngs of fans snapping pics and wanting autographs. He had a big dumb look and was happy as any person could be. Goodbye Larry, I never knew you nor you me but, I always liked to read about you. You had a good ride and who could really ask for more than that?
Posted by: Anon_surfer | Apr 10, 2007 6:33:07 PM
RIP Larry hope the ride you are on now is long and smooth ?
Posted by: Dave | Feb 23, 2007 4:28:36 PM
Indian Larry was an awesome bike builder that many of the yuppie bike builders nowdays can't even hold a candle next to him. Indian Larry I am proud to say that I met you & you will be truely missed.
Posted by: Renegade | Feb 17, 2007 9:37:20 AM
One of the last true, you will live on forever. Lone wolf forever
Posted by: geo | Feb 16, 2007 8:33:29 PM
i built my first panhead harley in 1969, right after easy rider movie.in 1969.became one of the few pearl&metelflake painters in town, when i saw larry on t.v. and saw his root beer metalflake bike i flipped out! man this guy can paint. nothing more than this old 62 year old ex-biker has ben realy turned on by this old-school biker.-damn he was great.you know he did not leave us he just rode away.Big Daddys got ya now! miss ya Dave
Posted by: david blanchard | Jan 26, 2007 11:17:07 PM
The legend will never die
Look in the sky
That's where he lie
Among the star he fly
He was an inspiration
The bikes were a transformation
Of he's heart passion
And he's mind convinction
You can live and be dead today
For those who say
You lived too hard everyday
You left your way
Posted by: Yves | Jan 6, 2007 10:53:14 PM
Sorry, but I write it just in Hungarian. Őszinte részvétem. Bár nem ismertem Larry-t, a Discovery-n láttam a Biker Build Off-ot és hogy hogyan halt meg. Nagyon sajnálom, a motoros társadalom egy értékes embert veszített el.
Posted by: Feco | Jan 2, 2007 10:34:20 AM
the legend will never die
Posted by: josh | Dec 22, 2006 9:52:54 AM
bueno amigo, buen viaje y nos vemos en la otra vida con unas cervezas y muxo humor . r.i.p.
Posted by: jaky | Dec 21, 2006 6:58:49 AM
Serves him right for being a show off. He should of been wearing sun glasses and a helmet. I mean he was talented and all,but Ive seen just as good of work out of other bike builders. By the way there is no heaven,he is worm food and thats that. Sorry to see him go down with such a preventable mistake. DUMBASS!!
Posted by: bonzi | Dec 13, 2006 12:44:56 PM
R.I.P im sorry it happened you made great bikes un like anyone else. they were the best and the gretest. in my eyes you acheved your goal and are the greatest bilder.
Posted by: im sory | Dec 11, 2006 6:23:51 PM
what is yes larry was a biker i will give him that but he was NOT NATIVE
so stop all the BS
Posted by: PETER L HUDSON FASTWOLF | Nov 21, 2006 2:28:39 PM
Your life was a bumpy ride but now you are cruising the highway to the stars.You have given inspiration to thousands.Rest in peace amigo.
Posted by: PISTOL PETE | Oct 19, 2006 10:28:20 AM
rest in peace
you will be missed
Posted by: ankit | Oct 12, 2006 7:55:17 AM
Larry you where the best of the best
R.I.P. don`t forget the best!
Posted by: indian | Oct 8, 2006 7:57:02 AM
Rest in peace Larry-we'll see you in the next life!!
Posted by: Las Vegas badboy | Oct 2, 2006 2:02:41 AM
I GO BY WHAT HE TAUGHT ME,NEVER DOUBT THE NEXT STEP OF THE JOURNY.IT WILL TRANSPIER THE WAY IT WILL TRANSPIER.THATS THE WAY I LIVE MY LIFE.WHEN I HEARD ABOUT HIS DEATH.I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP.HE WAS AN INSPERATION TO ME,TO ALL OF US.AND I WILL MISS HIM SO.BUT AT LEAST HE WENT OUT DOING WHAT HE LOVED.HIS JOB.THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME INDIAN LARRY.I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU.
BRANDON PATRICK HOSKINS
AGE 16.OF CANTON,OHIO.
Posted by: BRANDON PATRICK HOSKINS. | Sep 22, 2006 11:06:04 AM
Sincer sa fiu regret moartea celui mai mare constructor de motoare,el in ot de auna a avut o mare imaginatie dar a stiut cum sa o scoata la iveala,multi au alte metode de asi arata imaginatia dar el s-ia aratato printr-un mod mai special acela fiind motoarele.Nu lam cunoscut in persoana nici o data dar lam azut in poze si as a orce ca sa se in toarca in napoi si sa-i strang mana.Atata pot sa spun.ODIHNESTETE IN PACE INDIAN LARRY.PENTRU NOI NU VEI FI NICI O DATA MORT CACI VEI TRAI IN INIMILE NOASTRE. Numelemeu adevarat e Alex si o spun cu cea mai mare sinceritate ca imi va fi or de Indian Larri
Posted by: Santos | Sep 20, 2006 5:17:16 PM
Larry, "May God Bless You" You where and still are my favorite bike builder.I never got the chance to meet you or visit your shop. I hope it is still there to carry on your legacy in the chopper world.......Ride on.......Ride long Indian Larry....... alway's in our memories.
Posted by: Jim "J.D." Demars | Aug 20, 2006 11:47:52 AM
WOULD THE ACID COMMENTS AND DISRESPECT WRITEN ON THIS SITE BEEN PUT ON IF THE MAN HAD BEEN A FRIEND OF THE COMMENT MAKERS...I THINK NOT.!!!.
IT IS SAD THAT A MAN DIES ,BUT WE ALL WOULD GO IN OUR CHOSEN WAY IF WE COULD,MOST OF THE POSTEES WHO DROP THE SHITE COMMENTS WOULD PREFER TO DIE IN BED WRAPPED IN BUBBLE WRAP I GUESS.LARRY WENT HIS WAY ,MAYBE NOT AT HIS PREFERED TIME BUT HE WENT DOING WHAT HE LOVED AND NOT AS THE SAFE(?) SOCIETY WOULD HAVE HIM GO.
STOP WITH THE CRAP.IF YOU DONT RESPECT THE GUY,KEEP IT TO YOURSELF AND HOPE WHEN YOU GO PEOPLE LIKE YOUR WORK ENOUGH TO SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT YOU.THOUSANDS NEVER MET HIM BUT THEY ALL HAD A BOND AND STILL DO,THOSE THAT DONT ,GO HOME SELL YOUR BIKE AND NEVER VENTURE OUT IN DAYLIGHT AGAIN,CLOSE YOUR EYES AND PLUG YOUR EARS COS INDIAN LARRY IS SHOUTING LOUDER NOW TO HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAN YOU CAN STAND.
LET HIM LIVE IN EVERYONES MEMORIES AS THE GOOD MAN HE BECAME.
REST IN PEACE LARRY......YOU ARE MISSED
Posted by: niggy | Jul 30, 2006 2:58:23 PM
THANKS FOR THE GREAT ART YOU PROVIDED US GOD REST YOUR SOUL
Posted by: JOHN S OHIO | Jul 11, 2006 12:34:34 AM
GOD speed Larry. "RIP"
Posted by: Herm | Jul 3, 2006 7:19:17 PM
Rest in Peace Larry!!
Im going to miss your awesome bikes.you will not be forgotten.Kids this is why we should always wear our helments.RIDE ON!!!
Posted by: Kaleigh | Jul 3, 2006 4:05:58 PM
Indain Larry was amazing he was one of a kind
he was a genuis , he may be gone but never to be forgotten. RIDE ON.
Posted by: june | Jun 30, 2006 2:57:42 PM
This morning I was fortunate to have a day off from work, and was channel surffing and happened to stop on "the build-off bike" show, and thought I would watch. I was captivated by Indian Larry's style, and enthusiasum in his love of what he was doing. My husband has restored many a bike, and I now appreciate his love for this art. Indian Larry has left an imprint on my mind forever, god be with you and your family. Ironically my dear mother-in-law passed away on Sept. 3, 2004, the day of Larry's accident. debbie & bill
Posted by: D.Franckey | May 22, 2006 11:32:38 AM
larry was a road rash waitin to happen
Posted by: jimmy the tank | May 19, 2006 12:28:19 AM
LARRY ONE OF THE BEST BUILDERS OUT THERE
Posted by: RICKY RICK | May 10, 2006 12:51:22 AM
Larry...those very few who run you down just don't get it. They probably live life so safely they in fact never really live. What else can explain someone running down someone who has left this life? You know they have never jumped out of a plane; never rode a bike with the hat off and the eyes watering; ran a horse at full speed, dated a wild crazy person...they are just too insecure and afraid to do something wild or dangerous. They find some strange pleasure in running down those who test the limits and push the envelope---because they are actually too small and timid to try something that tests there insides---by running you down they don't want to confront their own fears. Those who make fun are simply bored and/or dead and don't yet know it. They will someday realize how dead they were in life...but by then it will be too late.
Loved your work, Indian.
Those of us who either knew you or felt like we knew you, get it---and miss you. You LIVED while you were alive...those very few detractors will never lessen your contribution to biking, and to those of us who knew you. You were a blast, dude. Still missing you. ET
Posted by: ET | Apr 29, 2006 12:43:52 AM
Always tell the truth, that way you don't have to remember what you said -Great words by a Great person.
Indian Larry -Biker God will live Forever.
Posted by: xXx1033xXx | Apr 25, 2006 1:13:26 AM
indian larry "THE BEST" thank you larry !!!!!!!
Posted by: carl williams | Apr 17, 2006 7:56:15 PM
Indian Larry, only NYC could produce a great man like you! You are the salt of the Earth!!
Posted by: Friend | Apr 10, 2006 12:07:19 PM
i never knew larry but it feels like i lost my best friend.........ride on.
Posted by: brad | Apr 6, 2006 4:07:41 PM
INDIAN LARRY LIVED AND DIED A LEGEND. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER BIKE BUILDER LIKE HIM,HE SAW THINGS UNLIKE ANY OTHER BUILDER IVE SEEN. IM 36 AND AM THE DAUGHTER OF AN OLD SCHOOL BIKER IVE SEEN MANY BIKES BUILT BY LARRY IN MANY MAGAZINES SINCE I WAS A LIL GIRL,THIS WORLD LOST AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY THE DAY WE LOST LARRY. YOU WILL FOREVER BE REMEMBERED LARRY.
Posted by: TRISH | Mar 18, 2006 10:48:16 PM
you inspire me to build bikes ???????????????????????????????????????????????????
Posted by: j byrski | Mar 15, 2006 5:22:55 PM
you are truly missed THANK YOU for the memories
Posted by: kevin | Mar 8, 2006 1:16:39 AM
watched the show on discovery,shocked and saddened to hear of larrys death, wish i could have met you. kitkat
Posted by: kitkat | Mar 6, 2006 4:23:34 AM
To me he was always the best old school chopper builder. I have always wanted to see him but, a few years back he past a way. I cry for ages, i really miss him.
Posted by: peter causon | Feb 17, 2006 7:35:22 AM
keep ridding up there larry
Posted by: joel stauffer | Feb 10, 2006 12:17:01 PM
Just saw your Tribute Bike built on TV. Nice Bike! You would have loved it. You are an insperation to many, you will be missed.
See you on the other side...
Posted by: D | Feb 8, 2006 4:31:14 PM
I never had the chance to meet you, But my brother did. He did not take losing you well. I didn't either. But, I thank you for giving life to the people around you. I thank you for bringing the greatest bikes ever to the pavement of this planet called Earth. Have fun hangin' with The Harley-Davidson boys, And Jesus.
Ride on, Brother.
Posted by: Nate | Feb 7, 2006 1:22:47 AM
"LONE WOLF NO CLUB" RIP YOUR BIGGEST FAN STU
Posted by: STU STOWERS | Feb 5, 2006 9:27:25 PM
We will always remember how crazy you were on a bike. its people like you that are always remembered in years to come. a good person for young kids to look up to,
may you rest in peace Larry Desmedt
aka "Indian Larry"
Posted by: debird | Dec 6, 2005 1:10:52 PM
Posted by: Jeffrey | Nov 19, 2005 2:01:46 PM
the only time i watched the biker buildoff was wen larry was on his chops wer sick ride free in heaven dude
Posted by: big simmo | Nov 17, 2005 9:02:04 AM
2am this morning i was watching biker build off in the UK.They were having a minutes silence for Indian Larry, i'm gutted i never knew earlier i've been watching him on tv thinking what a great guy. RIP Larry you'll be missed.......
Posted by: Kevin | Oct 30, 2005 4:00:58 PM
it its a big lost, so dont be stupid doing things like this,LIVE, then, ryde
Posted by: allen | Oct 24, 2005 3:31:05 PM
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