Article By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The February 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Steven “Uncle Rock” Trant 9-3-58 to 12-3-13 When he walked into a room everyone knew Uncle Rock was on site. Not always because he had a loud thunderous voice, not just because he was a large man, but he had a presence about him. I first met Rock around the beginning of the magazine; it was actually shortly before we buried another brother and legend in the Pittsburgh tattoo community: Moose. Those were crazy days, and for whatever reason, Rock took to me and we became friends. Back then I was still delivering magazines in my Volkswagen Bug, and Rock started to come up with a route for places he knew should get the magazine out his way. It wasn’t long before he came up with the idea of doing a monthly column called Ask Uncle Rock — a male version of S Miraculous Mutha. He was the rudest, most uncouth person I had ever met. I constantly had one eye shut when I published his answers for his column, but he was a real man. He taught me the language of “hillbonics,” educated me on how to stay true to what it’s about, and then he taught me “the code” and how to live by it. Rock was a one-of-a-kind man, and together, along with so many brothers, we buried his mentor: Moose. He took over Moose’s shop and it quickly became Cycle Source East HQ. He did so much for this magazine in the beginning including saving me from doing many stupid things, but there was one in particular. I can’t tell you all the details here, but he talked me out of going down a very bad path when a life changing event took place. He also brought a bag of lime and a shovel in case he couldn’t talk me out of it. I mean he was my brother and if it had to go that way, he told me, he’d be there for that too.
So many times he would scorn me for straying a little too much towards commercialism, and not paying attention to things he’d tell me were important. It was hard at times to see how much he loved me through the asschewings I took on a regular basis. But like my old man, who was also a Marine, Rock had my best interest at heart. One day, years later, I would finally ask him why he ever took time to help me. In his very special way, he leaned back and in a deep, grizzled voice said, “A gypsy woman told me a rising star in motorcycling would come out of the east,” and he gave me that look that was part serious and part joking. I never asked again. As the magazine grew, Rock found his way into other things. He began raising champion American Bulldogs and continued to run the Bodyworks Tattoo Studio that was Moose’s legacy to our part of the country. If my story was the only one that was connected to this man, the way he helped me, and the good influence he was on my life, that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Rock had many stories like mine to his credit. There were people that needed just the right amount of persuasion at just the right time, and he was there. Now with him, you never really got it how you may have wanted it, but in the end you’d find it to be exactly what you needed.
I got to spend Rock’s last day on this planet with him and as I did I imagined, somewhat selfishly, what my life would have been like had he not been in it. I would have quit this magazine a dozen times over if not for him. I’d never have had the self-confidence to do half the shit I have in this lifetime. I don’t know really how I will ever fill the hole that’s left in my heart where he has been these many years. I also don’t know how to say thank you for all he has done, except that I may pass along some of the knowledge that was the type he constantly gave me. Below is a quote he wrote on a plaque the staff presented me with at our fifth anniversary party now some 12 years ago. For those of you that get this, you will understand because surely you have an Uncle Rock in your life too; for those that do not, I pray with all my heart that you live long enough to find one. God Speed Rock, help the ol’ boy upstairs get them Panheads’ running. I’ll be along shortly, my brother.
“I once had it said to me that no one believes in that code but you and some grey bearded old men. Well I think that we have shown that brotherhood lives once again. When the future writers of history past have the story told, let it be known I value brotherhood more than silver or gold.” – Uncle Rock