If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, chances are that you have a collection of movies related to motorcycles and one of them is probably Easy Rider. That movie was released in 1969 and received critical acclaim. In fact, many motorcycle riders around the world argue that Easy Rider was the first real movie that helped popularize the motorcycle counter-culture in America.
Peter Fonda, who wrote, starred and produced the film died on Friday, August 16, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer. He was 79.
Perhaps, the image that comes to mind when one hears the title Easy Rider is Peter Fonda’s character’s bike, the Captain America, with its distinctive peanut tank painted with the American flag. It was said that the bikes used by Fonda during filming were former Harley-Davidson police motorcycles that were purchased at an auction for US$500. One of the bikes that was demolished for a scene was rebuilt by Dan Haggerty and offered for auction in October 2014 by Profiles in History, a Calabasas, California-based auction house with an estimated value of US$1-1.2 million.
In spite of Easy Rider’s rebelious themes, Fonda also strongly advocated for motorcycle safety.
[embedded content]In 1973, Peter Fonda worked with stunt rider Evel Knievel in Not so Easy, a short film advocating the wearing of proper riding gears and safe riding techniques.
In a 2007 interview of the LA Times, Fonda revealed that his interest in motorcycles was a direct result of him rebelling against his father, Henry Fonda, who was said to dislike motorcycles and its bad image at the time. “My father didn’t want me to,” as he told the LA Times. “It was like, in your face!”
By the time he was earning and could afford to buy a motorcycle, he took home a Harley-Davidson. “As soon as I could, I bought a Harley. That was the beginning. Loved it. Never have stopped.”
Peter Fonda was also inducted to the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his motorcycle-related works and fund-raising activities for charities.
Just like many of us motorcycle riders, Fonda shares that it is the feeling of freedom when he rides his motorcycles that he liked most. “As I say, it’s the freedom,” Fonda told the LA Times. “The road has no fences, and you’re out there and there’s no cars and no towns, you see eagles, you see all kinds of wildlife.”