As of October 2010 West Coast Choppers had closed its doors for business. What both lit the spark and later burned out thousands of would-be chopper builders has now gone the way of so many other businesses hit with our current economic times, hard luck, and scandal. Many people who read and advertise in this magazine can and should thank him for all he did for the motorcycle industry as a whole.
Don't try and act as if Jesse James' influence didn't spark your interest in choppers. He was the one who brought it back to the masses, and there is no disputing that. Even if you didn't care for his builds or bikes, we can all agree he had raw talent and an eye for what worked. To this day, the man possesses both skill and charm that a legion of wannabes could never hold a candle to. And for the most part he has always been that way.
I was fortunate enough to know Jesse before WCC, the million-dollar rock star choppers, TV shows, movie star wives, and the demise of it all. I can attest that he's the same dude I have always known, but with a larger bank account and less hair.
All that aside, say what you want about how he lives his life and how your hindsight should be his 20/20 vision, but West Coast Choppers was Jesse James, though he in no way was WCC. The guy can and will do what he wants with his own two hands at any time he wants. It's his prerogative and he doesn't owe anyone one damn thing. Apparently, West Coast Choppers (as we know it) was over in his eyes, so he shut the doors when he felt it ran its course. He's just turning a page in his life's book. That's all.
Despite what the masses of keyboard jockeys have posted on a million "Biker" message boards, Jesse was never a sellout. He was good at promoting a brand that he loved dearly, that became a juggernaut of sorts, and we all know what happens when the bubble gets too big.
Like Mike "Cheez" Brown, a mutual friend that Jesse and I have, always said: "Nothing lasts forever, so take all you can while it's bending over in front of you."
On another note, I would like to welcome Nelson Kanno to Street Chopper as a regular contributor. His former work in The Horse and daily blogging on churchofchoppers.com has always brought me great joy and insight. I cannot say how grateful I am that he is doing his thing for us now.
Jeff Wright, one of Nelson's Church Of Choppers brethren and of FTWCO fame, was also kind enough to join us and lend a hand this month by interviewing living legend Tom Fugle.
Also, I would like to thank Ed Fox for contributing his photography to Street Chopper starting with this issue. His work is what formed the now-defunct Garage Magazine's look and we are very lucky to have his talent grace our pages.
I am also proud to announce that Street Chopper will be going six-time for 2011, so you can get more of what you want bimonthly!