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February 13, 2005

The magic of Indian Larry


Nothing I have ever written has come close to generating the number of comments received about the September 3, 2004 post entitled "Indian Larry is dead at 55."

Last night on the Discovery Channel I watched the Indian Larry v Mondo "Biker Build-Off" taped last August 28, the very same day he would fall off his bike demonstrating a stunt, hitting his head and causing the brain injury which would lead to his death on August 30.

I was mesmerized.

I had never heard of Indian Larry until I read his New York Times obituary.

I know nothing of bikes and motorcyles.

I've only been on a bike once in my life, as a passenger, and I was so scared I'd never do it again.

But you don't have to be a chef to know what tastes good, and it was clear from the first moments of the TV show that I would have very much liked Indian Larry had I known him.

The show was great, and getting even this second-hand, posthumous look at this singular man was wonderful.

I urge you to visit the Discovery Channel website, check out their schedule, and try to catch this program.

It's repeated about 3-4 times every week.

I know this to be true because each time it airs, visitors to bookofjoe โ€” specifically to the September 3, 2004 post โ€” skyrocket.

So popular is that post that of the 1.68 million results you get if you type Indian Larry into the Google search box, my post comes up third.

Go ahead, try it and see for yourself.

February 13, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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saw him a few times on tv. he looks like a modern day shaman. wat beautiful machines this man makes.

Posted by: shan | Mar 28, 2006 4:20:32 AM

he was the coolest

Posted by: geg | Mar 7, 2006 12:13:37 PM

Here it is Xmas day 15 months after Larry's death and I still feel the same sense of loss for a kindred spirit I never got the chance to meet.

Although I never met him face to face I remember the sense of appreciation I got the first time I ever saw a picture of him and a bike he built in a 70's custom bike magazine. I still don't remember today whether it was ER, Biker or Iron Horse, but there was this skinny greaser and this tight looking hardtail with a remotely mounted oil filter and these wild looking cylinders that had the lower fins shaved.

Over the years, he kept making these cameo appearances in a lifestyle I couldn't absorb enough of.

A lot has been written about the man and the effects he had on everyone he came into contact with. The great respect shown him by everyone is no surprise because Larry knew the secret to self realization was through application of a generous heart. He got to reap what he sowed so willingly.

This Christmas, I recieved a package from an acquaintance on a biker board I frequent. A riding buddy I've never met, who dodges the cages every day he can on his commute to and from work in Boston. He's another kindred soul who faced his demons and found a spiritual connection to slow and reverse the runaway train he'd beeen lashed to going nowhere.

Although I never met Larry in person, the few minutes he took in May of 2004 to smile, shake hands and chat with my friend set wheels in motion that touched me nearly as much as if I had met Larry in life. My friend told me of his encounter and how after autographing his riding jacket, he reached across a table and scooped up a young boy to set him on one of his customns for a picture. My friend said at that moment he was completeley convinced of Larry's conviction to do the next right thing. I've been an absolute fanatic about Larry's life and work and I guess it's apparent.

When I opened the box with the Mass return address, there was the weathered and worn leather that Larry had signed over 2 years ago.

Later in the day at work I was attempting to convey to a younger co worker how much that signature was worth. His immediate reaction was "that'd probably bring a lot of $ on Ebay". I guess he isn't old enough to realize the spritual value of these little "links" in that great "chain of mystery".

Ride free forever Larry.

Posted by: Gooch | Dec 25, 2005 2:26:03 PM

he lived free and died from his passion may we all be so lucky!

Posted by: donnie | Mar 20, 2005 1:24:28 AM

I watched a lot of shows on indian larry and had i known him i know i would have liked him, his bikes were amazing, his stunts were better, but the best part of all was his outlook on life...

In god we trust
Vengance is mine
sayeth the lord
no fear

Just keep riding.

Posted by: Mike | Mar 6, 2005 8:28:02 PM

just found out today...i saw the intro to the episode, recognized mondo and indian larry right away knew by what they were saying that one of them had died...wished it was neither.

Posted by: acey rose | Mar 5, 2005 4:25:54 PM


Posted by: archan | Feb 28, 2005 3:18:03 AM

Indian Larry is one of my heros. I'm 44, and have lived in Rhode Island (NOT part of New York!)all my life. I finally had the honor of meeting and talking to Indian Larry at the Laconia Motorcycle Rally. He's something else! Street-wise, soft-spoken, spiritual, and a bad-ass biker ~ all at the same time!
I'm currently in a wheelchair, after being hit in June, 2004, by a mini-van while riding my Harley. I was 5 houses from home when I got planked. They say I'll never walk again. They say that nobody walks after their leg's been pierced in 3 different places by their own leg bones, and their knee's been turned to mush. Ask any biker, and you'll hear the same thing.."*They* don't get to tell me anything. It's never been done before, because I never needed to do it." Someday, I'll swing my leg over the saddle again.
Indian Larry did a lot of things that "have never been done"...until he decided that he felt like doing them. Like building a motorcycle frame by welding the links of a chain together, one-at-a-time!
His life was like his bikes..a work of art. I wish I could say that I knew him; that he was my friend, but I can't. I did meet and speak to him briefly, though. It's his story, his philosophy, the way he lived, succeeded, and finally died that gives me the certainty that someday, I'll walk to the garage, wipe the early morning dew off the bike, and ride again.
We're gonna miss you, Larry. But you, your bikes, and your philosophy about building them will never be forgotten.

Posted by: Thom | Feb 27, 2005 12:07:54 PM


Posted by: wilson | Feb 25, 2005 10:32:11 PM

I have been watching the series ' great biker build off' for some time now and among all the greatest builders, Indian larry is definetely the greatest. However I never knew till yesterday that he was dead. The episode after which he died was screened yesterday and after knowing that he was dead, I really cried( which I seldom do). Really miss a great man..

Posted by: sri | Feb 22, 2005 5:43:15 AM

My wife and I watch this 'discovery' program whenever we can... We didn't know of Indian Larry before this program... but afterwards neither one of knows why but we really miss the guy!
I can just imagine how much those who knew him miss him!!

Posted by: D'plex | Feb 21, 2005 3:28:35 PM

I have always admired Indian Larry while watching the Great Biker Build Off show on Discovery channel. I can't believe that he's dead. He was a great classic chopper builder. Its really shocking.

Posted by: anoob | Feb 17, 2005 7:17:13 AM

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