YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Rockers and Bikers on Tour Help Harley Celebrate Its 100th Birthday


Kid Rock knows how to pass the long hours between tour dates: with the grips of a motorcycle throbbing in his hands. The rocker-rapper-provocateur and tour sidekick DJ Uncle Cracker never leave Detroit without their bikes.

"We got a chopper and a Harley Fat Boy out here; Cracker's got his Harley," says Rock, calling from an East Coast tour date with Aerosmith. "We bring as many bikes as we can, depending on the room. If it's nice out and we're in a nice area, we love to go riding."

Rock will bring that biker sensibility to the stage as one of a patchwork of new and classic acts gathered this weekend for the Southern California stop of the Open Road Tour, celebrating Harley-Davidson's 100th anniversary, at California Motor Speedway in Fontana. He joins an unlikely lineup that includes a reunion of the Doors, Stone Temple Pilots, Los Lobos, Nickelback, Parliament-Funkadelic, Earl Scruggs and the Doobie Brothers.

"Rock music nowadays is very boring," says Rock. "To have a diverse bill with a lot of acts, whether they're young, old, good-looking, not good-looking--just good songs and musicians--it doesn't get any better than that."

Steve Berlin of Los Lobos compares the lineup to shows two decades ago at the Fillmore in San Francisco, when the disparate likes of folk guitarist John Fahey, bop giant Miles Davis and proto-metal rockers Blue Cheer might somehow share a stage for a night.

"I don't think there is any other circumstance where those audiences and those bands would be on the same stage," says Berlin. "We'll have to get down there and see what's actually going to happen on the ground, because God knows it could be a complete debacle."

The Fontana concerts are part of a yearlong tour of Harley-Davidson festivals, which began in July in Atlanta and will travel overseas before ending next year in Milwaukee. The American shows are organized by House of Blues Concerts and each city offers a different talent lineup.

Ticket sales for this weekend are going well, says Jack Gannon, vice president of marketing for House of Blues, with Saturday's Stone Temple Pilots and Nickelback lineup the most popular so far.

Aside from live music, the festivals offer historic motorcycle displays, a mini film festival on Harley-Davidson history, a children's area with coloring contests and rub-off tattoos, and a place where licensed motorcycle riders can try out the newest Harleys.

Legendary biker gang the Hells Angels were involved in a deadly fight during a Laughlin, Nev., motorcycle rally this spring, but organizers expect little of the darker side of motorcycle culture to emerge during the weekend. "The events we've had to date have been peaceful events," says Gannon. "We've had no security issues whatsoever. We're taken a lot of precautions to ensure the safety of everyone at the event. It really is a non-issue."

Los Lobos will approach Friday night with some experience playing for motorcycle enthusiasts. At last summer's Redwood Run in Northern California, they were joined by Billy Idol for an impromptu version of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild."

"He was drunk out of his bloody mind," Berlin says with a laugh. (Idol is scheduled to perform his own set at Open Road on Saturday.) "I'd certainly welcome him back, and if he wants to get up there and do it, that would be great."


Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Open Road Tour; Friday: The Doors, Earl Scruggs, Los Lobos, Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan. Saturday: Billy Idol, Default, Nickelback, Stone Temple Pilots. Sunday: Kid Rock, Doobie Brothers, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Journey. California Speedway, Fontana. $35 a day, or $75 for a three-day pass; children under 13 free.

Los Angeles Times Articles