Evel Knievel London 1975

Bikes People Culture

The Evel genius touched down hard

On Bank holiday Monday at the end of May 1975, Evel Knievel appeared in London’s Wembley Stadium.

40 years have passed since this totemic point in London pop culture – and looking at the home-made cine film footage we found, it’s a window on another world.

When Evel crashed he fractured various bones – and announced he was retiring as he lay injured on the sacred turf of Wembley Stadium.

But this, of course was not Evel’s last hurrah – but the touchstone that lit a fire under the Evel myth in the UK. In 1975, UK pop culture was a bleak miasma of prog rock and industrial strife. Punk hadn’t yet hit and Glam rockers in makeup, glitter, platform heels and flared were the only colour available for the youth to aspire to.

Evel Knievel was consumed like a visitor from an altogether other, star-spangled planet and it would seed the idea that motorcycles and Americana were a thing to reach for for in the minds of the British youth.

My older cousin was there in 1975 – and the fact forever in my mind created a kind of halo around him. That halo stayed around Evel for the whole of his life.