Galloping Goose MC another one of the founding 1%er clubs originating in post war California.
This is a from a shoot I did with the West Coast Chapter of the Hells Angels England. The feature was for Caz Carroll’s UK version of Live To Ride magazine which must be quite collectable these days.
This was on a freezing cold day in Bristol, a far cry from SoCal’s West Coast for sure.
Mike Parti in his Los Angeles workshop. Through my photography I have been privileged to meet some very cool interesting and talented people. Mike Parti certainly falls into this category. Firstly he is a Master Restorer of vintage motorcycles. He was the go to man for Steve McQueen who entrusted many of his valuable bikes to him for restorative work. He is also in Jay Leno’s telephone book too. Just take some time to admire his orderly shop, every tool in its place. The Hot Rod alludes to Mike’s more rebellious past as an outlaw rodder and biker. He was an early member of the Galloping Goose MC and he told me first hand how it was to be a 1%er in 1950s California. Although he is not now an active member he still has his Galloping Goose colours hung on his shop door.
When I asked to photograph them he said in true I% er style…..No!
He told me that before the bobbers and choppers there was a group of bikers in LA riding modified JD and VL model Harleys which were referred to at the time as Long Beach Cut Downs because they’d hack sawed off the fenders to save weight.
His stories of early hot rodding were well worth listening to as well.
Mike Parti one true Original.
Hunter S Thompson introduced me to Sonny Barger through the pages of his Book Hells Angels when I was still at school. That’s when I became interested in Harleys and 1%er Clubs. Years later I was in San Francisco photographing ‘Phoneman’ a member of the East Bay Dragons the famous Black MC outside Ron Simms’ Bay Area Custom Cycle shop. ‘Phoneman’ asked if I was going to Sonny Barger’s Freedom Party at the Mountain House at the weekend and invited me to attend. That’s when I first met Sonny and gave him a copy of my book ‘The Classic Harley’.
On a later trip to Frisco with Caz Carroll we called by Sonny’s bike shop in Oakland to see if we could arrange a photoshoot. Sonny was up for it but since he had driven his truck to work he wasn’t wearing his colours. His rule was only to fly the colours when riding his bike so we arranged to meet a few days later after Caz and I had ridden to the Love Ride in Los Angeles via the Pacific Coast Highway (Another ambition fulfilled).
Upon our return we met with Sonny at his shop for the shoot. The Oakland Clubhouse was directly opposite and we shot Sonny next to the plaque, then to our surprise Sonny produced a bunch of keys and said “come inside, I want to show you guys something.” He opened up and led us through the clubhouse to a back room which was decorated with framed Police file photos of most of the Oakland Chapter including one of a 19 year old Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger, his first bust! Sonny was cool about me shooting these scenes including some of himself at the Club Bar.
See the glass tankard in Sonny’s hand at the bar containing coffee, well 5 minutes later he put it down on the sidewalk outside to lock the door and I didn’t notice as I was fiddling with my camera and I kicked it across the road smashing it in the process. I had a horrible feeling it was an engraved HA commemorative glass or something but to my relief Sonny shrugged and said no sweat, just a Custom Chrome glass or something. So now I dine out on the fact that I kicked Sonny’s Pint over and survived!
A few years later Caz and I went to photograph Sonny’s book signing in London. My son Craig took the picture of us with Sonny, Caz on the left me on the right.