Article By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The June-July 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It is my very sad obligation to pass along the news of Charlie Brechtel’s passing. With him, so much of the passion and spirit of what our culture aspires to be goes as well. As an ambassador of motorcycle culture and music, Charlie coined the phrase “MotorSikilisim”, a philosophy explaining the meaning behind what we do. As a bluesman, Charlie came up in the most sincere way you could to pay your dues in the blues. He lived in his Aunt Mamae’s Cathouse in New Orleans and played every chance he got. During his career as a musician, Charlie’s old twangy guitar took him all over the world, playing in Russia and Thailand, just to name a few. But it was John Lee Hooker that put him on a path that had no end, until today. Hooker gave Charlie the nickname “GoodTime” and asked him if he wanted to be famous or if he wanted to be a legend. Charlie answered fast “A Legend” and Hooker laughed. Hooker told Charlie that many legends die broke and that this was the harder of the two choices. John Lee was just one of the famous blues legends that Charlie got to play with in his life, but I still have to believe that his biggest honor was his residency at the Buffalo Chip each year in Sturgis. “I got to play the big stage” was how he used to say it to me every time he talked about it.
In motorcycle media, Charlie was way ahead of his time. As a self-proclaimed Louisiana Coonass, he was actually very sharp when it came to technology and had the foresight to see where media was going a long time ago. Way before Cycle Source or any of the modern-day provers of digital media like podcast and social media broadcasting came about Charlie started BIC Radio. BIC or Bikers Inner Circle was one of the first Motorcycle Internet Radio Programs, and Charlie was on the road with it getting interviews a decade before the industry even understood what it was. His platform continued to develop, and eventually, he would land a place in the ranks of Choppertown, where on each show, he would broadcast to hundreds of thousands. As time went on and the rest of us caught up to what he was doing, he never wavered, he remained true to himself and what he presented as his brand of media. It had long been Charlie’s dream to produce a feature film that contained the characters from today’s motorcycle world. With the support of his brother Dennis they brought the world “Rebel on the Highway” and did just that. In traditional 70’s B movie style, Charlie told a story of a deal with the devil that paralleled Robert Johnson’s experience at the Crossroads. Sadly, they have been working on the second film “Rough Boys” when Charlie passed. I believe it is in final edit so we might yet get to see his last film.
Charlie and I came up in some of the same ways; of course, I was a little more Hillbilly compared to his roots, but still, we shared a rough story and came away from it better men. Charlie was always there to remind me of the things that were truly important in “Our World,” and sometimes I did the same for him. Although these times, when one of us would nudge the other back on track were never comfortable, they were the very reason we had such a strong bond. Rogue saw it in the two of us from day one and used to scold us for being young and dumb, for not getting our shit together and making a plan between each other to take the reins on this thing. I’m ashamed to say that finally we were just getting to that point. Both of us mature enough, with enough understanding of the motorcycle culture to pick a direction. Just two days before Charlie left this world, he and I were working on a song together. He had woken up in the middle of the night with it stuck in his head. We spent the next day going back and forth with adjustments as he began to work it out. Later that day, we jumped on a Zoom call and learned how to play music together from 3000 miles apart.
We jammed some old blues, did Freddie King’s “Going Down” that he taught me on the spot, and laughed our asses off at how cool technology is today. That’s right, with both of us locked up under the rules of this pandemic, we laughed and played music together. It was the last time I would ever talk to my brother. I thank God for that night. It was a true blessing to be able to walk away from a 20- year friendship with such a precious and beautiful memory. In Charlie’s memory, the boys from Black Smoke Sinners, and I are going to finish that song, appropriately named by Charlie “Deal With the Devil.” That’s a perfect name for this song and sums up Charlie’s life. He wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t educated in a traditional sense, he was real, and in this thing, real will take you far. He understood that he was so blessed to do the things he did, go to the places he went, and know the people he met along the way. He knew that there would surely be a metaphysical debt to be paid for it all someday. I tell you today, my brother, your debt has been paid, go with God and save me a seat on the big stage!