Long before there were X Games, extreme sports and reality TV, there was Evel Knievel.
Evel Knievel was the man. Straight up and no lies.
He was a daredevil like no other in modern history and he paid a big price for his feats. He once claimed he broke every bone in his body and I don’t doubt it.
Part athlete, part showman, part huckster, Evel did stuff that made the world gasp back in the 70s. Kids wanted to be him. Adults thought he was nuts.
I used to put bike ramps out in the street and see how far I could jump.
I still have scars.
Evel died last week a the age of 69 and the world lost a pretty interesting guy.
Throughout his life Evel was a hockey player, a crook, an insurance salesman, a soldier, and of course a man with serious self-preservation issues that led him to become a household name.
He once addressed a crowd after a failed jump (his most memorable jumps were the failed ones which always resulted in a crash and several broken bones) despite the fact that he had a broken pelvis and several other fractured bones.
He also was a master marketer. He created himself as a brand and he made tons of cash doing it. When ABC Wide World of Sports refused to air live his ill-fated attempt to jump the fountains at Ceaser’s Palace in Vegas, he hired director John Derek with his own money. The sensational crash that followed made Evel an instant star and ABC ended up paying him more than he originally asked to air the jump attempt.
I haven’t thought much about him in the last few decades until I heard about his death last week. It brought back a lot of childhood memories. He was a fun guy who made us all think about doing things we knew we couldn’t do but tried anyway. For that, I’ll always like him.
Goodbye Evel. RIP. There truly will never be another like you.
Here’s his Caeser’s Palace jump. Wow!