November 10 2009 by Jason Fogelson
I don't know if you saw the news recently, but Brad Pitt had a little tipover on his motorcycle while evading the paparazzi. He was unhurt, but it made me think about how many celebrities ride motorcycles.
Pitt is well-known for his love of motorcycling. So is his buddy George Clooney, who rides with a posse of friends on a regular basis. Other big-time actors who are unrepentant motorcyclists include Aaron Eckhart, Adrien Brody, Antonio Banderas, Jeremy Irons, Billy Bob Thornton, Scott Glenn, Bruce Willis, Ewan McGregor and Tom Cruise, just to name a few. Motorcycling and movie stars have always gone hand in hand.
Marlon Brando and Clark Gable rode bikes, but the golden age of celebrity motorcycling may have been the 1960s. That's when Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and every cool guy in Hollywood was on two wheels, influencing an entire generation of motorcyclists. Arnold Schwarzenegger redefined motorcycling onscreen as the title character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and rides prominently in real life, even as he serves out his term as Governor of California.
Funny men Dan Aykroyd and Jay Leno are well known as Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. Television stars Larry Hagman, Bob Denver, Branscombe Richmond, Lorenzo Lamas and Matt LeBlanc all rode motorcycles when they were off-screen, and sometimes on. TV Chef Alton Brown (Good Eats) treasures his time in the saddle. Hugh Laurie is such an avid motorcyclist that his character on House rides as well, even with serious medical problems. And Camryn Manheim, of The Practice and Ghost Whisperer, has been a motorcyclist for many years.
There has always been a connection between rock musicians and motorcycles. It probably wouldn't surprise you to see a photo of Bruce Springsteen, Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, Bono of U2 or even Prince (remember his bike in Purple Rain?) astride a two wheeler. But did you know that Buddy Holly rode an Ariel? Did you know that Alanis Morisette has been spotted zooming around in her leathers? Neal Peart, the drummer for Rush, is so devoted to motorcycling that he brings a bike on tour with the group, and often rides from concert location to concert location. His book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road is all about how riding a motorcycle helped him overcome the grief of a personal loss.
If celebrities can find the time to ride, how about you?