History of Our World

The Bikeriders | Danny Lyon, 2003

Posted in Photography by A on December 9, 2009

Crossing the Ohio, Louisville

Renegade’s Funeral, Detroit

Route 12, Wisconsin

Benny at the Spotlight, Cicero, Illinois

Funny Sonny packing with Zipco, Milwaukee

Barbara at the clubhouse in Chicago

Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago

Last year my girlfriend called me up and she asked me to come down to Grand and Division. She needed some money. And she said it was a bar. She says that the guys are havin’ a meeting there. Well, I didn’t know the guys or anything, so I went there and I never felt so out of place in all my life. I walked in there and had white Levis on, I had a sweater on. And I looked and the first guy I seen was Corky, with an earring hanging out of his ear, his belly button showing, like half naked. To me it was like half naked, you know? And here he’s hootin’ and hollerin’ and he scared the livin’ shit out of me. So I sees my girlfriend and I goes over to her and I sits down there and I’m takin’ everything in. And all these guys kept comin’ up to me sayin’, you know, different stuff like you need a man, or you want to come live with me? And I was about ready to just run. So I says to my girlfriend, well, I gotta go. And she says, oh, they’re not that bad. Just sit here. So all of a sudden I seen Benny and he was standin’ at the end of the bar. And I says to my girlfriend, boy, who’s the good lookin’ blond guy? I says, he don’t look like the rest of these guys. She says, oh Kathy, you don’t want to go out with him. She says, because nobody wants to go out with him. So she ordered me a Coke and I sat there and was shootin’ the breeze with her, and all of a sudden Benny came up behind me and he started talkin’ to me. And I says, well, I gotta go home. So I walks out the front door real nice, bein’ grabbed about five times, so that when I got outside, I could see on my slacks were just hand prints all over me.

So I’m standin’ on the bus corner, almost in tears, thinkin’, oh my God, something’s gonna happen to me yet. And they all come chargin’ out of the front door. They had Benny start up the bike and they grabbed me and they took my purse and they put me on Benny’s bike and they told him to take off. They’d meet him on the expressway. He takes off. He goes through the stoplights and everything, so that I wouldn’t jump off. And I wouldn’t have jumped off anyway ‘cause I was scared shitless. I never was on a motorcycle in all my life. So we went to the Green Duck out on River Road. But before we got there I’m sittin’ on the bike real nice. I figure, you know, at least he’ll get me home. All of a sudden he takes his hand, he puts it on my back like this. I said, whatta you doin’? He says, I’m just checkin’ so you don’t fall off. I says, OK, like an idiot you know? I thought he was really checkin’ it out. So the second time it happened, I says, don’t worry about me, I says, I won’t fall off. He says, okay, and he was real nice about it. Five weeks later I married him. I ain’t real sorry. The only thing is I thought I could change him, you know? Every woman thinks that she can change a guy. Not to her own ways, but to be different. Not to be different, but to be, I don’t know. Like he’s wild. I used to think he’d get over that. But he don’t. And he’s got a vicious temper. He’s got a temper that all you have to do is say two words and he’ll knock you on your rear end. And I ain’t used to that. And I ain’t gettin’ used to that, ‘cause like I told him, I don’t look good in black and blue. And I know the bleeding stops, but still, one of these days. I ain’t got that much blood left.

Were you at the Spotlight when he got worked over that time? You shoulda seen him. His whole head was black and blue, his kidneys were kicked in. His back had scabs on it. He was bleedin’ all over the place. He just stood there. You know what the guys in the club said? Well, one thing we gotta say about Benny, he’s the only guy that stood on his feet from the clubroom all the way out to the street without fallin’ down. And there were guys hittin’ him with stools and blackjacks and everything else. That’s the only thing they say. When he got in trouble once before he put his fist through a window on Broadway and Belmont and the guys, well, he got into a fight and he missed the guy and he went right through the window. His whole hand was wide open, and he was still fightin’. And the first thing the guys said, well, Benny doesn’t give up. He sees a little blood, he doesn’t pass out. They like him because he’s a fighter. And that’s just what they need in that club.

Kathy, Wife of Benny, Member of the Chicago Outlaws.


The Bikeriders

Danny Lyon

Chronicle Books LLC



Danny Lyon

Chronicle Books LLC


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