Larry Desmedt, a legendary custom motorcycle builder and stunt rider who went by the name Indian Larry, died on Aug. 30 of severe head injuries he sustained in an accident. He was 55.
Indian Larry was performing one of his signature stunts last Saturday during the Liquid Steel Classic and Custom Bike Series in Concord, N.C. He was standing on the seat when suddenly the motorcycle began to wobble. Unable to maintain his balance, Indian Larry fell off the bike before it crashed. He was not wearing a helmet.
Born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., Indian Larry was a teenager when he bought his first motorbike, a 1939 Harley Knucklehead, for $200. He took it apart and spent the next nine months learning how to put it back together again. He later moved to California and apprenticed under hot rod builder Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.
The tattoo-covered metal-sculptor and motorcycle mechanic launched the Brooklyn-based Gasoline Alley motorcycle workshop in 1991 and devoted the rest of his life to creating and riding “old school bikes.” Several of his custom-built motorcycles won awards, including the “Grease Monkey,” which was named Easy Rider magazine’s Chopper of the Year.
Indian Larry also performed stunts in movies (“Quiz Show,” “200 Cigarettes”) and on television. He was a featured artist on the Discovery Channel’s “Biker Build-Off” series, and once rode a motorcycle through a wall of fire on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
A memorial will be held at Gasoline Alley on Sept. 19. His autobiography, “Grease Monkey, The Life and Times of Motorcycle Artist Indian Larry,” is scheduled for publication in 2006. Indian Larry is survived by his wife Bambi, the Mermaid of Coney Island.