Along with blue jeans, and rock and roll, one of America's cultural icons is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The legendary bike has come to symbolize the spirit of freedom, independence and individuality. Throughout August, Harley-Davidson will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a series of events and concerts, along with a commemorative album. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us about the festivities, and the music that has been associated with Harleys over the decades.
Born To Be Wild, a 1968 hit for John Kay and Steppenwolf, remains an anthem for motorcycle riders all over the world. The song conjures up the wild, romantic, rebellious and sometimes dangerous lifestyle associated with the gleaming and powerful machines. Steppenwolf will be performing August 28-30 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the grand finale to the year-long Harley-Davidson anniversary celebration. More than 200,000 international Harley riders are expected to roar into the city for the three-day party, which includes bike displays and other exhibits, as well as entertainment.
On August 17, hundreds of motorcycle fans will start The Ride Home, taking one of four organized routes across the United States, where riders share the open road as they travel to the celebration in Milwaukee. Along the way, events will raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Over the past several months, Harley-Davidson has been sponsoring its Open Road Tour, with concerts and exhibits in several U.S. cities, as well as Sydney, Tokyo, Barcelona and Hamburg. Some of the performers have included Hootie and The Blowfish, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Journey, Bob Dylan, Ted Nugent, Billy Idol, Stone Temple Pilots and The Doobie Brothers.
Harley-Davidson will mark its entry into the next 100 years of motorcycle craft with a giant birthday party on August 31 at Milwaukee's Veteran's Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. The free event will feature a fireworks display and live entertainment by headliners such as Steppenwolf, Kansas, Peter Frampton and Montgomery Gentry.
Jeff Bleustein, the chairman of Harley-Davidson, comments, "Our anniversary is not just about a machine. It's truly a celebration of family and friends who have been touched by the Harley-Davidson experience and want to share it with the world. We promise that we will continue to fulfill the dreams of our customers for the next 100 years."
In a joint venture with Harley-Davidson, Capitol Records has released Roadhouse Blues, an album to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the bike, which captures the spirit and attitude of riders and enthusiasts. Artists on the CD include George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Johnny Lang, Robert Cray, Lonnie Brooks, Buddy Guy and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.