I had seen Indian Larry on television about a year or so ago on one of those Discovery Channel – type programs. I believe that the program involved Jesse James, another motorcycle guy who has hit it big with Monster Garage and similar programs. In this particular episode, Jesse James and Indian Larry were traveling on their custom choppers from point X to point Y for one reason or another. I recall that it was a long ride.
At one point, the camera cut to Indian Larry blasting down a straight stretch of road somewhere out west, and he was STANDING on the seat of the motorcycle, with his arms outstretched, and with his long hair blowing in the wind (i.e. no helmet). I remember thinking back then that “That is one crazy son-of-a-bitch.”
One day sometime after that, I was shooting the breeze with a guy at work, and I happened to mention Indian Larry and the stunt I had seen him do on television. The guy I was speaking with said, “He’s dead, you know. He recently died doing that stunt you just described.” At that time, I was too taken with the seeming coincidence of my mentioning Indian Larry’s stunt and learning that he had died to think very much about the man – Indian Larry.
I have since watched a couple episodes of “The Great Biker Build-Off” on television, filmed before Indian Larry’s death. The idea behind this program is that two custom chopper builders start from scratch to design and build a custom bike, and then the two of them ride together to the scene of the judging.
In the episode I watched, Indian Larry was competing against (I think) Billy Lane. Billy Lane could not get his bike started, no matter how hard he tried. Indian Larry showed up and broke his ass trying to help Billy Lane, his competitor, get his bike going. Once they managed to do a few carburetor changes and get the bike started, Lane and Indian Larry set off for Sturgis for the contest.
At Sturgis, the producer of the program announced that the winner of the contest (based on votes of the spectators in attendance) was Indian Larry. Much to the producer’s chagrin, Indian Larry came to the stage and said that neither he nor Billy Lane deserved to win, and neither of them deserved to lose, and that the contest was a draw. Using his metalworking skills, he cut the trophy in pieces, giving Billy Lane a piece, keeping a piece, and tossing pieces out to the audience.
Covered with tattoos as he was, and being the kind of guy one doesn’t find in the typical corporate boardroom, he was, nevertheless, a class act. He was devoted to his unique form of art, and he lived large until his death on August 30th of this year while doing his trademark standing-on-the-seat stunt without a helmet. Larry Desmedt was 55 at the time of his death.
I wish I could have met the crazy son-of-a-bitch.