Friday, February 05, 2010

“Cycle Film Collectible”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Regular readers of this column know that I have had a long-distance friendship with guitarist Davie Allan for the past ten years.

Allan lives in southern California. He gathered fame by providing music for motorcycle films in the 1960’s. But since that golden era, he has continued to compose and perform regularly, creating a hefty catalog of recorded material.

Modern fans of the axe hero interact with him in a boisterous online forum called ‘King of the Fuzz.’ With amazing immediacy, he responds directly to questions sent through this network.

It was here that I first connected with Reverend Boobie Auten – one of the guitarist’s closest allies in song.

Auten is a musician, poet, motorcyclist, collector, streetwise theologian, and historian. He also has an ongoing ministry to help those who are on the fringes of society.

Those of us who share membership in the forum are used to taking inspiration from his unbridled zeal for outlaw music. But recently, he brought this passion to a new level.

While perusing valuable goods, Auten discovered a uniform vest from the 1967 movie ‘Devil’s Angels’ for sale. It was a faux set of ‘colors’ representing the fictional Skulls Motorcycle Club.

The movie itself was a Roger Corman epic presented by American International Pictures. In typical fashion, it portrayed a gang of outcasts seeking adventure and wreaking havoc.

Originally, the vest carried a price of $2500. But with a bit of negotiation, a bargain of sorts was struck.

Auten explained his acquisition in colorful terms:

“I purchased this vest back in October. Richard Bruno designed it. He also designed for (classic movies, including) ‘Fireball 500’ and ‘How To Stuff A Wild Bikini.’ I had saved money to purchase a special guitar but this was available and I had to jump on it. I talked the guy down in price but it still commanded a hefty price tag. He declined many offers from around the world. It set me back and I've never spent so much on an item like this in my life but I bought this jacket vest because it is my favorite biker movie. I often wondered where any items from these old sixties movies are! This was a once and a lifetime chance. Bill Dixon is a real biker that was only in the scenes where they were riding. He rode his own Harley and was honored to be asked to be an extra. They needed real bikers and he was in the right time and place (Patagonia, Arizona) for his fifteen minutes of fame. He never did any more movies. Being a true biker, he realized the vest was important to preserve as any gang member would his issued colors. So to be true as possible to the outlaw creed…it was treated with the respect the clubs demand from members by never being washed and as soon as the movie was finished it was hung in his closet for the last forty years untouched just as it was the two weeks of filming when he briefly rode as a Skull with 124 other bikers that rode through Brookville USA. Included are the stains and dirt and scars from the wild time. I can actually flake off gray dirt if I choose to! He and his wife had divorced long ago and Bill moved to the North Carolina mountains. He recently gave the special vest to his now adult son who recalled memories of it always hanging in his closet who sold it to me and has not told his dad as of yet and is actually scared to tell him.”

After hearing about this treasure, I searched through our household collection for the ‘Devil’s Angels’ vinyl LP. It had been my first actual Davie Allan soundtrack, discovered while I was in high school during the 70’s.

Cover photographs confirmed that the design of Auten’s vest was correct. I felt a chill of excitement while reading song titles from the record jacket:

Side One

1. Devil's Angels (Vocal)
2. The Devil's Rumble
3. Funky
4. Make-Believe Love
5. Cody's Theme

Side Two

1. Hell Rider (Vocal)
2. Hole in the Wall
3. Devil's Carnival
4. The Ghost Story
5. Devil's Angels (Instrumental)

American International Pictures was founded in 1956 by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. The company became a part of ‘Baby Boom’ folklore by releasing low-budget films of all kinds. In particular, they pandered to the tastes of young viewers who were attracted by breezy storylines and lots of action.

In its day, films like ‘Devil’s Angels’ were not well received by the general public. Mainstream motorcyclists fretted about the negative image created by such productions. Harley-Davidson was particularly despised as part of the anti-social ‘biker’ subculture.

But in the 1980’s, this perception began to change.

A generational shift brought more freewheeling attitudes into play. Anything associated with postwar culture became desirable. Vintage automobiles, guitars, and clothing began to fetch outrageous prices.

Milwaukee’s most famous manufacturer skillfully utilized this change to reinvent itself in the midst of market turmoil. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan famously observed: “Like America, Harley is back and standing tall."

It was a surprising endorsement - from one who had represented the old-line establishment with gusto.

Eventually, customized ‘choppers’ became part of everyday American life. Jesse James and the Teutul family prospered as icons of this new paradigm. And retail giants such as Kmart and Walmart offered T-shirts that carried ‘chopper’ designs.

Movies like ‘Devil’s Angels’ were rehabilitated by this change in social outlook. Instead of being viewed as crude and unseemly, they became fanciful portraits of an earlier age.

In the 60’s, Auten’s movie prop would have been little more than a cultural curiosity. Something left over from a childhood tantrum displayed with cinematic effects.

But now, it is an accepted part of our history.

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Blogger Then Came Me said...

I dig Rod! 'Cause I is he and he is me and we is we. Davie Allan & The Arrows are the only reason I touched that 1967 Skulls Presidio Levis jacket vest. If it were not for that beautiful melodic grunge fuzz and sweet clean guitar too that he plays on the soundtrack and all in that movie then the vest would be only vaguely desired. Davie Allan is America's greatest unsung guitar player in the mass media and he is not big headed or egotistical but he knows that himself and even if they finally decided to give him gold stars and pats on the back and high fives it would not change him at all because he carries himself just fine today. I want however for them to try and spoil him silly! He deserves the prestige and the rub. The drama he has experienced just on his web site alone can be traumatically twisted as the music business sometimes because one never knows where it might come and go! For readers who don't know let me point the way. Davie just released a new CD on his own label recently. EXCLUSIVE:
Davie Allan will sign every CD sold through his Web site !
$12.50 EACH
(Includes U.S. Shipping & Handling)
$7.50 EACH
(Includes U.S. Shipping & Handling)
P.O. Box 5378
Oceanside, CA 92052 You must have your skull twisted not to go for those deals! No shipping! If I were going to suggest any of them I'd say buy them all! Thanks Rod for the guy you are.Your dad recognized your talent from an early age that we see now. He said write from your life's experience. He, being a dad, nurtured your craft. He, being a Reverend, saw the gift you possess.You are a blessing. I've decided I'm gonna split from this blog. I'm gonna pick up my ol' lady and whatever little we have, and I'm gonna put on my colors, and I'm gonna roll! And neither man nor beast is gonna stop me until I find a place I can blow my own peace, and we're gonna love each other. "When will they learn? Angels can get burned!...When they're Devil's Angels!" Proverbs 14-12

9:44 PM  

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