Article By: Ashley Hardin
Originally Published In The July 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I’ve often said that I love motorcycles and motorcycle people and that’s because they’re MY people and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been around them my entire life. They have been there for me when my own family couldn’t be for whatever reason and for that I’m forever grateful and always willing, although sometimes not visibly, to be there for them as they have been for me. On April 12, 2014 this world lost one helluva man when Larry Pierce left this world. Growing up in the South I would always hear people say he or she is “American by Birth and Southern by the Grace of God”, that meant something to not just me but to everyone who heard it. Larry knew what it meant too because he was a true Son of the South. He was raised to be a Southern Gentleman and to be proud of where he came from. These things, along with his wicked sense of humor and his love of motorcycles and guns gave us a lot of things in common as well as great conversations. I first met Larry and Ashley in Daytona, around 07 or 08, at one of the Choppertime shows at Tropical Tattoo where he won a trophy for a Yamaha XS 650 that even attracted a feature in this magazine, which was his first magazine spread but it sure wouldn’t be his last.
I remember Ashley actually sitting on the ground so that I couldn’t see her from the podium to ask her to show everybody what we all wanted to see…haha hey I am Roadside Marty after all, and on the mic I sometimes get a bit out of hand. After the show I had a chance to talk with Larry for a few minutes and I realized he was the guy from Birmingham that I had been hearing about so I told him the next time I passed through I’d like to check his shop out and in that usual Southern way he said I was welcome there anytime. Over the next few years we would cross paths, share numerous phone calls where we would just laugh and catch up on things. This was during the time of the Limpnickie Lot era, where I feel confident in saying that everyone involved in that, during that time, made some of the best memories of our lives. I remember when The Horse Backstreet Choppers Magazine asked me for a few names for the Chop Off and I said without a doubt Larry from Garage Co Customs, Michael Lewis from Violent Choppers and John Dodson from Gangster Choppers. I remember our phone conversation where Larry kept thanking me and I told just remember to tell me that 6 months from now haha!! His service was one of the toughest I’ve ever attended, but once I saw all of my family the memories just flooded my mind. It was pretty overwhelming but beautiful at the same time. I met more than a few new members of my family during that time and I’m sure Larry would have approved. It’s still pretty hard to believe he’s gone. Please be sure to check out Larry’s tribute page on Instagram @ neverforgetlarrypierce for updates as well as tributes. August 9th is Larry’s Memorial ride that’s going on all over the country and overseas. Rest in Power brother, I’ll see you on the other side!! “Sing Dixie while they lower me so I’ll hear it for Eternity” Rebel Son.
Roadside Marty 5/10/2014
Looking back almost a decade ago, I couldn’t have dreamed up a guy more perfect for myself than Larry or imagined the journey we would go on together. The people we would meet along the way and the all opportunities that Larry would be given that would add up to one hell of a ride. In 2006, Larry was 30 and me 22, he’d been married, had no driver license, lived with his mom, drove a brown Plymouth Valiant, BUT he built choppers and that was cool. From day one we both knew it was gonna be us, forever. Three weeks later we moved into his shop, cooked pizzas in his powder coating oven, slept on an air mattress, patched with tire patches and watched Bernie Mack because it was the only thing his TV picked up, but we loved it. We eventually got an apartment, due to the shop not having a shower.
Larry had opened his shop that same year and the economy sucked, but he some how stayed open. In the beginning we never made money, he got no credit for his builds, but somehow, with that big ole smile, he never gave up. He hired Spenser aka “Stewie Lewis and the News” Thomason and things started to look up. In 2009 the 3 of us loaded up Larry’s Flat Tracker (XS650) for GARCO’s debut at Daytona Bike Week. Chris Callen, editor of Cycle Source, saw the bike as soon as Larry pulled up to a pre-party and wanted to run it in his mag. I remember it like it was yesterday, when Chris emailed the layout, we were at TGI FRIDAYS and so beside ourselves with excitement we had to leave. WE HAD MADE IT, we were gonna be rich. Chris, we owe you a lot for putting that bike in Cycle Source. Thank you for being the first guy to see what I had seen in Larry all along and taking that chance.
That started the ball rolling for us, not long after that we were asked to join the Limpnickie Lot (which Cycle Source was a part of). We didn’t become rich, not with money, but with friends. To say we had a blast traveling the country with other bike shops would be the understatement of the century. We were a traveling circus, hitting up every bike rally from Sturgis and Daytona to the Smoke-out for several years. We partied, caused trouble, shot potato guns at Bean’re, got down to some Rebel Son, drank shotskis in the Led Sled trailer and made lifelong friendships. During this time we were lucky enough to meet people who would impact our journey in ways we could never imagine. (Pat Patterson/Led Sled, The Stinky Malinky’s/Lowbrow, Magoo & Bill/Biltwell just to name a few). I have some great memories with Larry from those few years thanks to all those crazies in the Limpnickie Lot. I love all ya’ll more than you know. Around 2010 we moved to a larger shop and “Stewie”, as well Nick Resty were working for him. The new shop had a HUGE parking lot that lent itself to some out of control bike nights, Christmas parties and anything else the Haints could come conjure up. One thing about Larry was that he enjoyed his job building bikes, but he LOVED having a great time and wanted everyone else to join in on the fun. Those nights at the shop were insane with lots of naked Haints!
Over the years, we were very fortunate to be featured in quite a few magazines, make some covers, be invited to Artistry and Iron, build a bike for the Chop-Off and FINALLY start to see a little progress. We met Matt from Dice Magazine in a bar in California and immediately hit it off, Larry called it the meeting of the accents. Dice later sponsored the first Dixie Roundup along with Lowbrow and Biltwell. This really opened up the shop to the left coast and it’s customer base. We met Dean from Dice not much later and he attended both Dixie Roundups. He is definitely the more reserved one of the Dice guys. In Jan 2012 Larry bought my old dream house on 5 acres and built his dream shop, where he could shoot guns, pee outside, and pretty much do anything else he wanted to do. On April 11th Larry became my boss and we officially started living the dream. We had blast working together, playing together, taking care of our zoo and living life together 24 hours a day. We balanced each other out, it seemed the more time we spent together, the more in sync we became. I adored him more with each day. Having me at the shop to handle emails, ship stuff, polish stupid stainless, and most importantly fix him 3 square meals a day, he was finally able to really hone his skills. He was so at ease the past few years, very settled into who he was, who we were as a team and what we wanted out of life. He really excelled and it was fun to watch him in his element. I think for the first time he thought he might have something here.
After meeting everyone from the left coast, listening to Nick Resty talk about how AMAZING Born Free was for years and having Larry’s brother from another mother Chris Richardson living in LA, we mustered up the funds to see what this Born Free thing was all about. Without a doubt this road trip to and from California for Born Free4 was the most fun I could have ever had with any human on the planet. We went to the Roswell’s Alien Museum, drove thru East Budha, Texas (2 blow outs), saw huge windmills, made it to the grand canyon, explored the Flintstone Park, traveled Route 66, got checked by boarder patrol with 48 jars of moonshine, laughed ‘til we cried and took our time. We honestly enjoyed every single moment. I cherish that time. Once we got to the Born Free 4, it was unexplainable, and everything anyone tells you is true. I met “Grant Peterson” selling moonshine in the back of Lowbrow’s truck the Friday before the show, when only vendors were there. I had been given strict instructions to not let Mike or Grant see me selling this… OOOPS! So what did do, GAVE HIM A FREE JAR! I can still see Larry’s face as he walked around the corner of that truck seeing me just chatting it up with “GRANT PETERSON” and The Denver Dan. He thought I had really blown it.
Less than a month after the show, Larry hollered from the bathtub, I went running in, not knowing what tub travesty had happened to him, he had gotten an email from Mike Davis asking if he still had that Knuckle and if he wanted to build it for Born Free 5. He was so confused on what he was asking… build it just because or build it as a Born Free invited builder or if he thought he was Yoshi from Garage Company. I asked was the email to you or Yoshi? I think Larry responded to Mike with a very vague “for the show?” As we sat in the bathroom for what felt like an eternity waiting on that email back, I knew that this had really just happened. He had officially been invited to be a Born Free Builder. Of all the accomplishments, accolades, and kudos Larry had gotten over the years, I can honestly tell you that this was his proudest moment because he didn’t think he was talented enough to be invited, but they did, and of course he was in the bathtub to top it all off.
In classic Larry fashion he waited ‘til last minute to start David Chopperfield (Knucklehead) and was the same ‘ole kook with a relaxed timeline that would all but drive me insane. He had a way of making me so angry, but still I couldn’t help but to just laugh at him because he was so ridiculous. Next up, we had to shoot a video! If it had not been for Daniel Thomas shooting Larry’s Born Free 5 video, we probably would have shot it with our iPhones. The video helped distinguish Larry and GARCO. Thank you Tim Lind from Show Class for saying “Dude just be yourself”. Until then Larry wasn’t quite sure where his southern self fit into the Born Free California thing, boy was he wrong. The week we left for Born Free 5 he had sworn off motorcycles for the hundred trillionth time. By the time we arrived, amazingly, he LOVED bikes again. Thinking back to the day of the show, I sat in the booth and watched him stand by his bike where all the other builders’ bikes were and I realized he was one of those guys who… someone came to the show to meet, pointed out across the crowd and people appreciated his talent. But he had no clue, he was still the same ole’ Larry that I met years ago, just happy to be there soaking it all in.
When asked to do Born Free 6, he debated on whether he was up to building a bike in 2 months. I explained to him that he actually had a YEAR to do it. He decided to go for it and said he would have hated to look back when he was 70 and say “damnit, why was I so lazy?” Plus, I really think he just wanted to do another Born Free video and show his quad skating skills! The video went as planned, and Daniel once again captured the spirit of Larry and his skating prowess.
As far as his Born Free 6 bike, for the first time in his life he was ahead of schedule. Everything was out to chrome, paint, polish, the motor guy and he was gonna have 3 weeks to ride it before we even left. For whatever reason he decided to listen to me this time, or maybe he always did and just played it off well. Because of this, Larry’s bike will be at Born Free 6 this year. Every detail is him and that is the only way I would have wanted it to be there. Lucky for me I have some great friends near and far that are helping me with the cost and assembly of getting his bike there.
Thank you, Roadside and Chris, for giving me the opportunity to write this, it has been so bittersweet. I feel like it was apparent that we just fit together. We loved each other with everything we had and that is what made the great times even greater, but times like these even more difficult. When I met Larry, 8 years ago, the first thing I told my mom was that I loved the sound of his voice, I just can’t hear that voice again or see that crazy guy. Until then babe…..