Story by Randy Twells, photos by George Childress and Randy Twells.
“Sometime later, after the roar dies down…”
Whenever I go to an event, people say “Wow! I wish I had YOUR job!” Yes we get to do all the glam awesome stuff – we get to go right up front, sometimes even onstage, with bands to shoot their shows, we get to stand in the middle of a double column of bikes shooting photos as they part the waters towards and around us, we get to climb to the roof of a sky high hotel and shoot photos of the scene below. We get to be the exclusive photographer at a big name concert, and have the band personally approve our photos for publication. We get to throw T-shirts out to the crowd at the Custom Bike Show, meet legendary music stars and interview them in person talking bikes and music, we get to shoot a girl band posed around a giveaway bike at their show venue for a movie poster, stand on the sidelines right down at the action at motorcycle drag races, yes it’s AWESOME. Split second timing between four of us Quick Throttle reps/photographers all week long, and many thousands of photos later, we all have stories to tell about incredible adventures and happenings. Our real riders—Fred Z, George Childress, Ray Seidel and myself Randy Twells bringing you our stories and tales from the road…and Laughlin River Run…..
Wednesday evening I rolled in to Laughlin just after dark, with a brilliant moon lighting the way. In Laughlin, it’s nice and quiet and few bikes out and about– The calm before the storm!! We put some mags out in the Pioneer lobby. Immediately getting snapped up. The center Laughlin Event Guide section is a popular feature. I see the Laughlin Entertainer next to Quick Throttle—our George Childress shot the cover! Way to go George!
I stayed at the Pioneer, and get to park right outside my room, 10 feet away. Can’t beat it! Grab dinner from the Fast Draw Snack Bar, open all night, saved me all week with good healthy food when I needed it! like Chef Salads to go, wraps & subs & fresh fruit, all healthy! And goodies too if you crave something sinful. (I caved once…)
The Riverside Starview Room, Colorado Belle, Edgewater, Tropicana Express, Bullhead City Bikefest, Arizona Performance Cycle, UniqCycle Sounds vendor booth, Harrah’s, as well as Performance Specialists & Mother Road HD in Kingman plus many other locations, all had Quick Throttle put out for visitors to pick up!!
Thursday morning I’m out front of Pioneer, walking past an amazing green Big Dog chopper and tiny little green dirt bike under forks, positioned like Daddy bike with Baby bike protectively under forks. Wow!! I had to shoot it—what a shot! Part of being Quick Throttle is to run around putting out magazines—so I stopped at the Mother Road HD T-shirt trailer at the Golden Nugget vendor area and met Frank and Susie working there, dropped off some Quick Throttle for their walk up customers. Nice people! More photos!
My next stop was to put magazines out at River Palms/Tattoo Convention; met up with Larry Topping the promoter, shot a few photos of the ink artwork in progress. While there I stopped at the Haunted Memories booth selling real archival photos that morph into zombie lookin’ characters. Cool!!
My rounds took me next across the mighty Colorado, over the “Laughlin Bridge” at the north end of town. When you stop on this bridge in traffic waiting for the light, it bounces up and down pretty good when the oncoming traffic rolls by. On a bike, it’s very exciting! At Arizona Performance Cycle, met up with Suzi & Tim our old buddies who helped us with the bike battery disconnect and gas draining of celeb & other display bikes in the Ladies at Laughlin event 2001-2005. We snap some photos out front of them, crew & friends holding up Quick Throttle mags! Suzi gives me one of their annual APC Laughlin special T-shirts. I pick cool white since it’s getting pretty hot now in Laughlin. Now heading back across the bridge again to Laughlin and visit the Star & Victory trailers in the Riverside lot, bringing each some magazines with their stories in them! Star had a Bolt review, and A-Team running the Victory display, had a special build story– all were stoked, and put them out for pickup by visitors to their displays. Our Ray Seidel has already been there to visit these guys and check out the bikes and test rides!
Soon it’s time for Harrah’s H-D dealer reception- I arrive early and put magazines out and shoot photos. Like old times seeing Rich Quaid, John Paliwoda the Dealer Assn. Chair, Law Tigers & Disco Loveland on the mic as MC! And right in the space we used to have that Ladies at Laughlin charity event that the Dealers Assn. so generously sponsored! I headed over to Mickey Gilley’s show at the Riverside, where Mickey kindly does a voice recorder interview beforehand, & gave me 2 of his CD’s and autographed his Riverside show ad on back of Laughlin Entertainer for me (the same issue has our George Childress’ cover shot on it!)! Mickey is such an icon. He founded Gilley’s, the country bar in Pasadena, Texas and the setting for John Travolta’s breakout movie “Urban Cowboy”—where the mechanical bull became the coolest thing on the planet. Mickey had posed on a Harley recently for a photo, used to promote this concert. An accomplishment considering 4 years ago he slipped and fell helping a friend move a big heavy piece of furniture, fractured 4 vertebrae, and the doctors said he would never walk again. His determination won out- he still sits or scoots in a power chair a lot, but he also walks a half a mile a day now. (Hell I can’t even walk a half mile a day, I’m so busted up myself…) So we high-fived and Mickey went out front to sing many of his hit songs, like “True Love Ways” and others, and tell so many great stories to the crowd from his personal life and years in show biz. George and I got to shoot from out front of stage as well as onstage/backstage, back & forth in all the props & drapes! No tripping!
Late night, I was still looking to meet up with Kevin the T-shirt guy with the box of 40 shirts we ordered for throwing out to the crowd on Saturday at the Belle/Custom Bike Show and at Center Circle—my phone ranguh- oh; his buddy went down on gravel on their ride out to Laughlin, got broken ribs, punctured lung; they were in Bullhead ER a long time– then shipped the off to Vegas’ trauma care facility. After seeing the injured rider off in the ambulance for transfer to Vegas, Kevin meets me in the Pioneer parking lot and hands off the T-shirt box all taped up like kilos of uh… T-shirts! – I’m sure it looked dubious to anyone watching…. Friday morning up bright and early for the Star Touring & Riding Breakfast at Aquarius. I shoot some pics, hand out ½ a box of mags with the Bolt review to all the STAR members’ tables & Star reps, & boogie out.
The American Heroes Poker Run started at Tropicana Express soon, so across the strip and shoot photos of the American Legion Honor Guard, “Good Lookin” John Trujillo, John Reith, and Commander Richard Roel of American Legion Post 87 in Bullhead City. And a photo presenting their Appreciation Plaque to Tropicana’s Assistant Director of Marketing Gwen Corson. While there I set up a bike shoot with the Iron Maidens for Saturday before their show. Back to the Riverside; my prayer for a photo opp of Mickey and his band members Jay and Ron by their motorcycles, was answered! My flash quit, but we got a photo anyway as best we could!
Back on track to the American Heroes Poker Run party—hit the highway out to Mother Road HD in Kingman and shoot pics there. My buddies, the guys in the band King vs. Cash played before I got there- grrrr!!!!! so decided to do a ‘lineup’ shot anyway, looking for a background then I spied the porta potty and it was all downhill from there! Out here, they have the Kingman Elks Lodge #468 every year, doing a Harley Heritage Softail raffle, so we shot that too! 468 tickets, $66 each (get it? Route 66?)
Back on the highway to Laughlin. Uphill, downhill, big rocks, big sweeping giant curves, incredible scenery. You have to ride this highway! Back in Laughlin, after moving some boxes of magazines to be ready for the Custom Bike Show the next day, I headed back to Riverside lot to meet up with Danielle who works for Roadshows, the Street Vibrations promotion co.; I see some tall good looking firefighters nearby and they let us rope them into doing a photo with a Quick Throttle Magazine!
Next on my photo schedule was the River Palms/Tattoo Convention for more photos of the ink action—I shot this one guy who had got a very graphic tattoo on his stomach finished and saran wrapped; got shots of the cleanup and it’s quite a process. He was a hardy soul too. I was passing out just watching. And many lovely ladies and hunky guys right there getting inked, a huge tattoo gathering and fest with the best artwork garnering awards & prizes. Artists creating real works of art on living breathing canvas!
Then it was time to head over to Bullhead City to Harley-Davidson Park for the awesome H-D Dealer Association VIP Party, where we meet up again with Chris Barton of the Bullhead Chamber, Bullhead Mayor Jack Hakim, City Manager Toby Cotter, H-D Dealer Association Pres. Mark Ruffalo and the group lined up under the inflatable HD logo entrance arch for a photo. Mark introduced me to Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward who posed graciously for a photo too! Now this party was under way, Victor McLaglen Motor Corps were here letting off steam (especially the incorrigible Mark Frymoyer ;), the band The Grind (Santana tribute) let me get some shots on stage, and Disco Loveland got line-dancing started. Great food, awesome music, what a party!
Back over the bridge a-gain! –to Laughlin to shoot some of the free concerts & entertainment at the Pioneer- A guest band- a surprise not on the schedule- “Elvis Monroe” with lead singer Bryan Hopkins, did some songs and then the full-lineup Austin Law, a country pop group that plays everything and has an awesome gal playing fiddle. Nearby was mechanical bull riding with lots of willing participants and very entertaining– it’s not a matter of If, but When….! Then also at the Pioneer, you could Ride the Orb—the big clear plastic spheres, with kids and adults alike getting in them for a roll around the pool. Our Ray Seidel compared them to giant hamster balls- hmm I guess you could take that a couple of ways– With one too many under your belt this could be very confusing…!! Or hilarious!! Saturday my early gig is at Colorado Belle where we sponsor the Custom Bike Show with our banner and plenty of Quick Throttle Magazines & T-shirts on the Observation Deck! Our photographers are all out here getting shots of the bikes, and the crowd. There are some real works of art out here.
While the Custom Bike Show simmers, I head back out ‘on the highway’ to Kingman again, this time by the airport, for Performance Specialists Bodacious Biker Palooza Extravaganza- they had bands, midget wrestlers, a bike smash, bike games, burnouts, you name it. Kelly (the Kelly in… Kelly’s Performance…) is constantly in motion in the shop, I think every shot of him is a blur, he never stops, he is a repair guru in perpetual motion. And his right arm Debbie Frain well, she makes it aaaaall happen. So once again I head back to Laughlin—up, down, desert highway, spectacular scenery- and shoot more photos at the Custom Bike Showeverything from a tiny vintage 1973 Honda Z50 mini bike and a late 60’s Chinese-motorized Huffy bicycle, to full-on blinged-out bagger/dressers and stretch choppers and everything in between.
As the judging wraps up and the bikes are moved into place for the awards, we throw out 15 Quick Throttle Sons of Anarchy T-shirts to the crowd- VERY excited crowd. Sam Baldi’s Lost Angel WINS 1st Place! Awesome. (see the back-story on how this bike came about, in Oct. 2012 Sturgis coverage.) 2nd place, a batwing Street glide; matte gray paint with menacing skull images peering out from unobtrusive places, and a crazy big scythe-spoked front wheel. 3rd place winner, a chiseled marvel – oh and the bike wasn’t bad either- a custom Buell. This show draws the very coolest bikes. Out at Center Circle, Joe O’Day pitched out 16 more Quick Throttle Sons of Anarchy T-shirts to a crowd gone wild!
Next I wanted to go visit our friend Kris / UniqCycle Sounds at Edgewater lot. There he is right around the corner inside the entrance where I am introduced to some guy named Charlie… Charlie who?? Charlie Brzejche whaat?? Oh CHARLIE BRECHTEL… OMG. whatta guy. So I fall over on his leg completely off balance. He catches me with a big hug! Personable, fun, a real character. He gets out his iPhone and does a live feed to his BiC web radio site, puts me on air. I ad lib– “This is Randy with Quick Throttle, hey we’re here at UniqCycle in Laughlin with Charlie, awesome, these guys are the real deal, hell we’re the real deal too, hey hope you all like our stuff, check us out online too!” We shoot a group shot with the UniqCycle crew and Charlie, holding up Quick Throttles! Charlie makes sure I have his CD and an autographed pic! I have been officially Brechtelized!
So after I grab a Subway and munch in the wonderful, awesome air conditioning, I roll into the Tropicana for the Iron Maidens bike shoot– soon they arrive, I pose them around the bike. Linda the Drummer I’m trying to think of what job to give her. Suddenly it hits me. “I want you to lo-o-ove the tank—but leave the HD badge visible!” She does her assignment and loooves that tank! Click click click about 10 shots and The Maidens have to get back to their dressing room to ready for the show starting barely 45 mins later— I go to the Pavilion and see wow, it’s different this year, the stage is higher so fans can be right up close and personal with the band! Next thing I know, the lights go down, show starts, audience rushes the stage! While I had planned to shoot from in front of stage, the band manager motions me around the side. Helps me up into the side access areas and, even the drum platform! Wowawesome shots!! Then I get more shots from the back looking out at the awesome audience reaching up to the gals, and it’s GUYS reaching up and GIRLS playing the guitars and leaning over to acknowledge their admirers!! Ha! Quite a reversal from the usual rock concert scene!! After the show, I stop in the Under the Stairs Café, and have a shrimp cocktail and fruit cup, totally filling protein filled healthy meal, for $6. Can’t beat it with a drumstick!!
As I sit there and chill while munching, I’m looking back at some of the 1500 photos in my camera, mentally tagging ones to use for this story. I get back to the Pioneer and crash in my ground floor room where the parking is right there two steps away. A nice flat screen TV, Fast Draw snack bar chef salad, propped up with pillows enjoying dinner in bed in a wonderful cool room, a brownie, iced tea, Thank you God..er… Mr. Pioneer.
Of course it’s never over til you actually arrive in your own driveway, so heading back west on Route 66 from Goffs to the 40, I see the “Route 66” painted onto the roadway and get an idea. I spot a couple guys stopped for reconnaissance on the side of the road and ask if I can shoot them rolling over the Route 66 emblem. They go SURE!! The Dirty Saints, they are a club that rides for Charity, and glad to give them props here. I stop at the Hi Desert Oasis as usual too just before the 40, Naja has put up a new Route 66 sign to promote the historic location here, and I shoot a pic of her on one of the hundreds of bikes that stop here for a BBQ chicken meal and a little shade under the misters on the patio in “Naja’s Food & Drink Garden”. Aquariums inside, nice clean facilities, plenty of chill space, awesome!! This makes her whole year folks, so stop by whenever you are out that way!
At another usual stop in Barstow at the Chevron, there is Dave with the Law Tigers semi and sign trailer, stopped for a break after stopping to help a biker broken down at roadside, and getting him fixed up with help. And the biker was very grateful! Way to go Dave! As another Laughlin River Run heads into the sunset, I’m tired but at the same time, reenergized. After 1000+ miles on the road, 5 days later I’m thinking, ‘It’s over already?” Well we can relive it through photos and telling the great stories.. and we hope you enjoy re-living it through our eyes and words.