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Evel Dead
November 30, 2007 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Evel is gone from the world Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, Jr. (October 17, 1938 - November 30, 2007) was a motorcycle daredevil who has been a household name since the late 1960s, and arguably the most iconic motorbike stuntman of all time. Evel Knievel's highly publicized motorcycle jumps, including his attempt to jump over the Snake River Canyon, claim four of the top 20 most-watched Wide World of Sports events of all time. He enjoyed a lengthy career in this extreme sport despite suffering a series of major injuries during stunts.
posted by Tommy Gnosis (116 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
RIP
posted by parmanparman at 1:50 PM on November 30, 2007


In tribute I'm going to line up all of the periods the end up in this thread and jump them.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:50 PM on November 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


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If the scroll tag wasn't blocked, my dot would be leaping across the page
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:51 PM on November 30, 2007


It appears that the last picture taken of a living, breathing Knievel was with him standing, in his living room, next to Kanye West and throwing some sort of a hand sign.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hope they shoot his ashes over Snake River Canyon.

RIP
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2007


(also, . )
posted by suckerpunch at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2007


Just finished composing my post, dammit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2007


I carried this lunch-box/thermos to elementary school every day for years.

Fare thee well gentle friend.
posted by JBennett at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2007


Damn.

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posted by SentientAI at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2007


                   .
_____/                           \___________  

posted by popcassady at 1:57 PM on November 30, 2007 [134 favorites]


My mother used to try to keep us from watching him, but Dad was on our side. I think her dislike of Evel's influence had something to do with our tendency to build wooden ramps for bikes. Of course there was that one time a neighborhood kid (successfully !) jumped, on his stingray bike, over his younger brother. Cool!
posted by R. Mutt at 1:58 PM on November 30, 2007


Previously on MeFi: here and here.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 1:58 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by konolia at 2:01 PM on November 30, 2007


In Evel's words: "Heaven is a place you can go and drink a lot of draft beer and it don't make you fat ..."
posted by chinese_fashion at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2007


I CAN HAZ MORE ASCII ARTZ?

Also, RIP Evel.
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on November 30, 2007


All decent American men should make their peace with Kanye before passing on. God speed.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:03 PM on November 30, 2007


_______/ ........ \_______
I loved Evel on Wild World of Sports. He got a bad rap on that Snake Canyon thing. RRRRRRRIP
posted by Gungho at 2:04 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by Joey Michaels at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2007


His pinball machine was completely awesome. Now I wanna go back to the Lucky JuJu in Alameda to play.
posted by the dief at 2:06 PM on November 30, 2007


Thank you, popcassady. Warped minds think alike.
posted by loquacious at 2:07 PM on November 30, 2007


Wow. I actually didn't see this coming. Like, ever. I figured he had mastered the whole immortality thing.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:07 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


                                                                                  o                                             

                                                                                 /--\                                           

                                                                              ( O )  (O)                                        

                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                

                    ______                                                                                                      

                   /      |                                                                                                     

                  /       |                                                                                                     

                 /        |                                                                                                     

                /         |                                                                                                     

_______________/          |.....................................................................................................

posted by chillmost at 2:08 PM on November 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


...gentle friend.

I do not think you are talking about the same Evel Kneivel that we're talking about.

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posted by miss lynnster at 2:08 PM on November 30, 2007


Evel Knievel never did jump a huge carnivorous fish, did he?
posted by Mister_A at 2:09 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by Cathedral at 2:11 PM on November 30, 2007


I guess he'll be buried in one of these?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:13 PM on November 30, 2007



o
/--T
O~0
/
......./ ..............
posted by tkchrist at 2:15 PM on November 30, 2007


bummer, he was a friggen icon to many, me too.


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posted by edgeways at 2:16 PM on November 30, 2007


standing, in his living room, next to Kanye West and throwing some sort of a hand sign.

In the Dirty South we refer to that as "chunkin' the deuce." :)

His pinball machine was completely awesome.

Someone has done a version of the EK pinball machine for Visual Pinball. It's free, and there are a lot of classic tables there.

The Evel toys were my childhood favorite--crank 'em up and let 'em fly. The motorcycle and dragster and funny car were a blast, but nothing touched the replica Sky Cycle. It was much more successful jumping everything in my neighborhood than the real one was in clearing the Snake River...
posted by First Post at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2007


The Snake River Canyon jump was a major event in my childhood. I'm not sure anyone could have been cooler to my my fourth grade self in 1974. That man was truly as indestructible as we imagined we were but weren't.

.
posted by octothorpe at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by lazaruslong at 2:24 PM on November 30, 2007


Oh and like First Post says, those crank-up toys were killer.
posted by octothorpe at 2:25 PM on November 30, 2007


Yeah, but he still couldn't successfully jump the Snake River canyon IN A ROCKET.
posted by psmealey at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2007


I wonder if Awful Knofel is still alive.
posted by 445supermag at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Did I read yesterday or the day before that he met with Kayne West to make peace with him over West's music video.... He must have known the end of the ramp was approaching.
posted by Webbster at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2007


I only ever was aware of him through the crank-powered toys mentioned above. But those were some bad-ass toys, let me tell you, and for that alone:

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posted by lekvar at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2007


.

Evel, you touched the sky - and you touched this guy. RIP.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:33 PM on November 30, 2007


I had the battery powered one where the little bike was attached to a battery powered motor via a radial wire arm. You just plugged it in and watched it go round and round.

A perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of sniffing model airplane glue.
posted by psmealey at 2:33 PM on November 30, 2007


He road across many a 70s playground. RIP Evil.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:34 PM on November 30, 2007


Suddenly, I'm back on my green Mustang, banana seat, sissy bar...speeding towards that homemade wooden ramp...

Truly a 70's icon. Bye, Evel.
posted by davebush at 2:35 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Truly a master showman and one of the last great hucksters, I often thought he should have spent his last day a few miles south in Gibtown
RIP Mighty flyer!
posted by HappyHippo at 2:36 PM on November 30, 2007


It appears that the last picture taken of a living, breathing Knievel was with him standing, in his living room, next to Kanye West and throwing some sort of a hand sign.

I like to think he was caught on film right in the middle of going to eye-poke Kanye 3-stooges style.
posted by cashman at 2:37 PM on November 30, 2007



--0
~|\
O'''`O


...That's Evel...ridin' in heaven.



.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:38 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is this the thread where I can pick up some favorites for ASCII art of a guy on a motorcycle?
posted by jjg at 2:40 PM on November 30, 2007


I saw him make a jump at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds sometime in the '70s. RIP, Evel.

(and I wish I had been here early enough to do the flying dot ascii, too!)
posted by yhbc at 2:43 PM on November 30, 2007


Mister A-
Evel never cleared the carniverous fish.
He tried, though, broke both his arms, and never headlined a stunt again.
I guess he wanted to quit before he jumped the shark.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 2:48 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


We used to always watch him on Wide World of Sports when I was little. I also had an Evel Knievel lunchbox and all the kids at school made fun of me because I was a girl with a boy's lunchbox.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:48 PM on November 30, 2007


I gave this album to a friend before moving across the country last year, so, if he should happen to read this, please play the title track once for me. Somewhere, there's a picture of me at 4 with a Knievel jump suit on. Ah, the 70s.

And even if he was bigoted turd, there are just some things I can sometimes overlook when a man jumps shit on motorcycles (and rockets!).

RIP.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:55 PM on November 30, 2007


And I'm sure he's revving up the motorcycle to jump the River Styx as we speak.
posted by mephron at 2:56 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Some of the places where Evel didn't die:
Caesar's Palace, 1967
Snake River Canyon, 1974
Portland, OR, 1973
West Salem, OH, 1974
all through the magic of YouTube.
posted by ardgedee at 2:57 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to meet God, and ask why he didn't make me go faster on some of those jumps, why he put me through all this pain. He knows I'm not evil.

EVEL KNIEVEL, SI.com, May 19, 2006
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2007


"I want to go to a Heaven, as a young man in the prime of my life, where there's a motorcycle jump I can make every day and never miss, a golf course where I can par every day and get some birdies and not miss any putts, where there are a lot of good-looking broads, no state tax, no federal tax, and no politicians!"

(from Evel Speaks to the Kids)
posted by sleepy pete at 3:09 PM on November 30, 2007


Evel Knieval was a GOD to boys under 10 in the early 70s. It was nuts, the fever news of his next jump could create.

Anyhow, now that he's gone he won't break anymore bones (the legend was that he had broken every bone in his body more than once).


.
posted by Skygazer at 3:12 PM on November 30, 2007


Super Dave Osborne will be crushed when he finds out.

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posted by bwg at 3:19 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


He’s not dead. He’s just stunt jumping infinity.

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posted by Smedleyman at 3:23 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:25 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by parki at 3:27 PM on November 30, 2007


Almost all of my childhood heros are dead.

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posted by Sailormom at 3:28 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can think of few things more quintessentially American.

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posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 PM on November 30, 2007


I still have his album on vinyl.

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posted by dobbs at 3:34 PM on November 30, 2007


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'nother girl with the Evel hero-worship
posted by Iteki at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2007


Because of my youthful observations of the impressive survivability of Evel, I was led to believe I was similarly unkillable, this in turn, lead to many abraded knees and scraped elbows.

I guess now I have to start being careful.
posted by quin at 3:40 PM on November 30, 2007


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I carried this lunch-box/thermos to elementary school every day for years.

So did I. That one and Space:1999.
posted by Foosnark at 3:42 PM on November 30, 2007


Just a couple of days ago he settled a lawsuit. How strange.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:46 PM on November 30, 2007


I never died, said he.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2007


Ah crap.

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posted by itchylick at 4:12 PM on November 30, 2007


Another icon of my childhood gone. I can remember having heated arguments with my buddies about exactly how many buses or cars he could jump. I think we settled on something like 137.
posted by maxwelton at 4:14 PM on November 30, 2007


No one person was ever more personally responsible for me busting my ass taking a huffy off a splintery old piece of plywood. Rest In Peace, suspended in midair, you crazy fucker.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:21 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Evel Knieval was a GOD to boys under 10 in the early 70s."

Damn straight. I had the lunchbox and the crank motorcycle. He was a hero to me.

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posted by UseyurBrain at 4:31 PM on November 30, 2007


What he said.
posted by jonmc at 4:31 PM on November 30, 2007


As stated earlier, Previously on MeFi: "What's it feel like to crash? What the hell do you think?"

I love that thread we had back in August, but even when that thread was happening, I knew THIS thread would come sooner rather than later. He's not in pain anymore. I think that's a blessing.

RIOP: Rest In One Piece
posted by ZachsMind at 4:33 PM on November 30, 2007


And girls, skygazer. And girls.


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posted by mygothlaundry at 4:34 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


RIP .
posted by winks007 at 4:35 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by MythMaker at 4:40 PM on November 30, 2007


My heart goes out to Krystal Kennedy-Knievel, his second wife, whose monogrammed bath towels caused the tiff with Kanye West.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:41 PM on November 30, 2007


.
Mr. Evil, brought me closer to death than anybody else... That ramp of plywood in the back yard, I wanted to jump the fence into my neighbor's yard... My little Honda 50 wasn't quite up to the task so I slammed into the fence and came "preet near" to breaking my spine, couldn't move for hours. Manly tears are shed.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:45 PM on November 30, 2007


Balls bigger than Dallas. For a kid knowing he was going to be on Wide World of Sports on a Saturday afternoon = pure heaven.
posted by Senator at 4:57 PM on November 30, 2007


.

He was perhaps the toughest guy who ever lived. You will be missed, Mr. Knieval.
posted by about_time at 5:01 PM on November 30, 2007


.

His (vaguely) wheelie-poppin' crank motorcycle was one of my favorite toys.

I feel really guilty that I laughed at your title
posted by mkultra at 5:20 PM on November 30, 2007


Evel was perhaps the first of my childhood icons. RIP, man in the star-spangled jump suit.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:26 PM on November 30, 2007


*
posted by salishsea at 5:38 PM on November 30, 2007


Reports indicate the family plans to shoot his body over the grand canyon.
posted by puke & cry at 5:55 PM on November 30, 2007


A monumental prick, but all us kids idolized him in the 70s.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:55 PM on November 30, 2007


His son lived near me in Sequim, WA. Not quite as crazy as his dad. sadly.
posted by Parannoyed at 5:59 PM on November 30, 2007


I wonder if Awful Knofel is still alive.

My father grew up in Butte, and though he didn't associate with Knievel he heard all the stories that circulated. The The Butte version of the story is something like this:

A distraught woman calls the local jail looking for her husband, only to be told by the jailer that he is not there. Instead the only prisoners that night were Evel Knievel, Awful Knoffel, and Neuf the Goof, the latter being being a Butte resident who suffered from what we would politely call today "diminished capacity". The movie versions omitted poor Neuf...

Another anecdote had Knievel intending to fornicate with some gal, inhibited by the fact he was playing hockey and wearing ice skates. No matter, he commandeers his female passenger and drives off with her, operating the foot pedals while wearing ice skates. No mention was made if the car was automatic or clutch...

Butte had a ski jump at that time, and the tale is told that Knievel once decided to demonstrate his fearlessness by ski jumping at night...

The last story was included in one of the movies; Knievel decides to pick up a girlfriend who is living in a sorority. I believe this was supposed to have happened in Missoula. He makes a grand entrance by driving his motorcycle up the steps of the sorority...

Tonight in Butte a great deal of alcohol will flow and a favorite son will be remembered.
posted by Tube at 6:00 PM on November 30, 2007


Indeed, Tube is right to acknowledge Butte, America. Helluva place. Wish I could be in the M&M Bar tonight. Bet the oldtimers are lettin' fly with truth and lies that would be worth lending an ear.
posted by bigskyguy at 6:19 PM on November 30, 2007


"You had to be a little tough to do what I did for a living," he said.

That's how he ended up betting his finger on a golf game. The original wager was $7,500, but Knievel couldn't stand his opponent. So he dared him to gamble a finger on the final hole.

Knievel's tee shot hit a rock and caromed out of bounds. The other guy birdied, so Knievel found a shovel and cut off the tip of his right ring finger. His opponent didn't take the payoff, so Knievel had the fingertip reattached on his way home.

"Two days later, I went back and asked if he wanted to play for an arm," Knievel said.


.

Wonder what he's talking about with JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.?
posted by Challahtronix at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2007


Perhaps the greatest American-born superstar ever. Because, who else we got? Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Wesley Snipes.

Evel wins.

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posted by Reth_Eldirood at 6:21 PM on November 30, 2007


*sigh* one by one...

thanks, evel, for being part of my childhood. sail forth, immortal, you crazy son of a bitch.

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posted by perilous at 6:24 PM on November 30, 2007


In the early 70s, when I was about 12, Evel was in town (Toronto), a friend and I came up with a crazy plan to meet him and get his autograph and it worked! Evel could not have been nicer, we were over the moon, we got to see him jump (successfully) and I still have the autograph. Sure, he was no saint, but he has a starring role in one of my best childhood memories... on a sad day.
posted by ambient2 at 6:28 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by Scoo at 6:31 PM on November 30, 2007


Evel is one of the things that makes me wish I had been born five years later.

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posted by evilcolonel at 6:39 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by lumpenprole at 6:40 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by treepour at 7:23 PM on November 30, 2007


I had about a dozen Evel Knievel action figures, because the wire in their arms kept snapping at the elbows from being in handlebar-gripping position, and the little wire ends would poke out the elbows and scratch me up. Probably revenge for all the hoops of fire they had to jump through.

Once retired from stunt riding (the arms don't stay bent after the wires break, and he looks dumb not holding on to the handlebars), my Evels were often used as Ensign Rickys for my Star Trek action figures, getting trapped under rocks and tires and such to be rescued - often far too late - by Kirk and Spock. Evel had his red shirt on the inside.

It finally made it to the outside. RIP man.
posted by davelog at 7:38 PM on November 30, 2007


Me and my bike made many a jump thanks to his influence. Godspeed you crazy bastard.
posted by rocket88 at 7:51 PM on November 30, 2007


"While I don't want to sanction stupidity, still, as our national sport, I have to admire this little man's dogged nerve and rubber determination..."

Firesign Theater tribute here (mp3).

And, uh...

.
posted by Kinbote at 8:01 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, I just wanted to get this off my shoulders:

Evel, you lost me when you blew Snake River. But whatever.

As a boy, I felt you were super. As a man, I realized you were human. But, my god man, what style!

That said, yeah...

.
posted by humannaire at 8:43 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by mike3k at 9:00 PM on November 30, 2007


Clever title.

and

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posted by Quonab at 9:47 PM on November 30, 2007


The anticipation of Evel's Snake River "jump" was for me a highlight of the 70s. I was just a kid. I almost speared myself taking a jump on my bike when the handlebar gooseneck snapped on landing and I went right over it. The spiky point grazed my chest all the way down but luckily I soared over it into the dirt.

Another time I stuck my foot through the front spokes while I was riding just to see what happened. Don't do that.

Evel was more of a rock star than most rock stars. He's now resting probably the weariest bones in history.
posted by Camofrog at 11:28 PM on November 30, 2007


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posted by porpoise at 12:45 AM on December 1, 2007


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posted by dopeypanda at 12:47 AM on December 1, 2007


Yeah, I can remember being absolutely enthralled by the whole Snake River thing when I was a kid.

Thrillseekers all disappearing, one by one. Damn you, mortality!

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posted by h00py at 3:18 AM on December 1, 2007


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posted by grubby at 5:59 AM on December 1, 2007


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posted by ssmith at 9:47 AM on December 1, 2007


Evel inspired this eight year old kid and his friends to use their Schwinn Stingrays as a stunt bikes back in the seventies. I remember gathering up a couple cinder blocks and some plywood and placing five of those big yellow Tonka trucks in front of the ramp. Once the jump was set up, no one wanted top go first. After much debate, I sucked it up and said "Ok chickens, I'll show you how it's done".

In preparation for my jump, I added a couple Hoyle playing cards to my spokes. This gave my bike that powerful engine sound and extra speed needed to clear such a perilous obstacle.

Mimicking Evel, I took a quick test pass and readied myself for the jump. My friend Dave did his best Howard Cosell impersonation which added to the drama transpiring on my suburban New Jersey street.

With my nerves steadied I took off for the ramp, pedaling as fast as my Tuffskin wearing legs would go. I hit the ramp at full speed and was airborne and easily clear the trucks. Unfortunately, I landed on my front wheel and wiped out, I was scrapped up and and little bloody, but was eager to get back up and try it again.

RIP Evel
posted by remo at 10:59 AM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Huh. Funny reading all these reports of people who did crazy stunts trying to be like Evel. I took from Evel that doing crazy stunts led one in the hospital for six weeks in traction and a body cast. So I tended to avoid physical acts that might cause broken bodyparts. Some saw Evel as a role model. I saw him as a cautionary tale.

However, I learned how to do prat falls from watching Chevy Chase. Back in high school my nickname was "Bag O Bones!" At the age of forty, I now have lower back pain. Good night! And have a pleasant tomorrow!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2007


I remember as a kid watching some jump he was going to do on live TV. My uncle casually remarked, "We could see a man die, you know." That freaked me right the hell out.

I am amazed that none of my friends got seriously hurt taking our bikes over ramps. One kid had one of those bikes with the gearshift on the main tube right at crotch level...
posted by bink at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2007


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posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:16 PM on December 1, 2007


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posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2007


Don't forget Viva Knievel!, which starred Gene Kelly, Leslie Nielsen, Dabney Coleman, Frank Gifford, and Marjoe Gortner!

I'll leave my Big Wheel jackknifed on the driveway for ya, Evel.

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posted by jonp72 at 2:29 PM on December 1, 2007


When I was a little girl, I had a huge crush on him and wanted to be like him. I would get on my purple metallic bike, put on my purple metallic football helmut (where my dad found that I'll never know), tie a sheet around my neck as a cape, and do wheelies and jumps up and down the alley while my dad washed the car. Of course ever time I went by him making "rrrrrr rrrr rrr" sounds like a motorcycle, he would squirt me with the hose to make me stop.

I thought Evel was the shit. I read that he went up to some guy who wrote a nasty book about him and beat the crap out of him with a baseball bat. When he did interviews about it he said there was nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. Classic.
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:39 AM on December 2, 2007


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posted by jquinby at 8:24 AM on December 3, 2007


Of all the bones Evel Knievel broke over the years, the costliest may have been the left arm of a PR man by the name of Shelly Saltman. Saltman won $12.75 million in damages against Knievel after the motorcycle daredevil attacked him with a baseball bat in 1977 in a rage over a book Saltman had written about the showman.

With interest, the still-uncollected sum has grown to more than $100 million by Saltman's estimate, and he intends to try to collect it.


That had to hurt.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:18 PM on December 3, 2007


Might be a little late for this but WFMU has a few mp3s from the Evel Knievel album.
posted by Sailormom at 8:22 PM on December 7, 2007


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