Danny Lyon: The Bikeriders Archives

Each season, our Levi’s Vintage Clothing team digs deep into the Levi’s Archives to reproduce iconic garments from bygone eras. Like time capsules, these pieces echo the people and the cultures that make up our history. So, it makes perfect sense that LVC would seek out and collaborate with the artists and documentarians who have helped record that history, in pictures and words. For Fall 2012, Levi’s Vintage Clothing pays tribute to the rebellious spirit and renegade style of the American biker with an exhibition from the archive of revered American photographer, Danny Lyon.
It was 1965 when Lyon, then a twenty-three-year-old photographer and bikerider, joined the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. He rode an old 650-cc Triumph, with his camera slung over one shoulder and a reel-to-reel tape-recorder lashed to the back of his bike. As part of the club, Lyon captured images and stories, from the scrambles track to the club house, that offered rare access to an emerging counterculture. His photographs of the biker lifestyle, both dangerous and romantic, helped solidify The Biker as a timeless style icon.
In 1968, these photographs along with text from tape-recorded conversations, became one of the seminal popular photography books, The Bikeriders. The original paperback sold for $2.95 and was catalogued as an adventure book. But four years after the first printing, Lyon bought a crate of 24 remaindered books for $0.16 each. That first edition has been out of print ever since, and today sells among collectors for thousands of dollars. Since then, the book has been reissued twice. For almost fifty years, these images have inspired photographers and bikers alike–not to mention designers and artists of all types.
With each passing generation, The Bikeriders has been rediscovered.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing is proud to have worked with Danny Lyon to tell this story– one that goes beyond the pages of the book and touches on its persistent popularity over the years. In addition to rare photographs from The Bikeriders series and exhibition announcements from around the world, LVC has uncovered unseen pieces from The Bikeriders history: outtakes, contact sheets, letters from Hunter S. Thompson to Lyon and correspondence with the book’s original editor, Alan Rinzler.
The exhibition will be on display in the following locations:
San Francisco: Union Square Levi’s Store from November 15th – 25th
New York: Pop Up Flea from November 30th – Dec 2nd
Toyko: Shinjuku Levi’s Store Dec 7th – 23rd
Find out more about Danny Lyon and follow his blog at Bleak Beauty.
(Chicago 1965) Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery.jpeg
Lyon on his Triumph (Chicago 1965) Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery
BOOKCOVER - The Bikeriders - First Edition 1968.jpegThe Bikeriders – First Edition 1968
Danny Lyon at his pink adobe house in Bernalillo, New Mexico (2012)