Tuesday 14 February 2023


To paraphrase George Orwell, I'm of the opinion Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad.

Never been a fan of the motorbike, much preferring the comfort and warm surroundings of the roofed cabin ("here in my car, I feel safest of all ... in Cars")
But I do know some motorbike-ists, and I get it.  I can see the attraction, just maybe not the comfortable delivery from home to chosen destination.

Japanese motorcycle industry - incorrectly assumed that it's rise to prominence came after World War II when it imported a Triumph Bonneville, pulled it apart, and re-built it more efficiently.
True, it wasn't until 1959 that a Japanese motorcycle (a Honda 125) was first seen competing at the Isle Of Man TT, but the Triumph story goes back further to 1907 (the first import) and by 1922 imports included Harley Davidson, India, and Norton.
(however, the rest of the story is pretty much true - they were pulled apart, mulled over, re-designed, and mass produced (at least in Japan))

The Japanese Big Four are:

  • Honda (since 1946)
  • Suzuki (since 1952)
  • Kawasaki (since 1954)
  • Yamaha (since 1955)
Each have had high domestic sales since their launch - like the car industry a combination of affordability and reliability stole a march on the Italians and United Kingdom (the biggest manufacturers in Europe), and also made a sizeable dent in the US market.

As most vehicle manufacturers know (knew?), Motorsport is a route to get your brand noticed.
As said above, Honda first appeared at the Isle Of Man TT in 1959, and by 1961 was winning races in various engine size categories.
Honda also started competing in the World Champiuonships, and won all categories in 1966.  Normal order was resumed the next year with Italian manufacturer MV Augusta dominating (as it had done since the late 50s).  And then in 1974, Yamaha repeated the trick, and Japanese bikes from one of the big 4 had a virtual clean sweep of everything until the 90s when Italian bikes from Aprilla and Ducatti (periodically) broke the dominance.

Chris Spedding's musical career started around the time Honda were breaking the Italian monopoly.  By 1970, his name was on the list of tried and trusted session musicians providing him an income in the absence of a successful band or solo career.
A proficient guitar player in any style, he was a fast learner and could get in, lay down a track, get out, take the money, and move onto the next session.
Notable contributions include  Harry Nilsson's 'Nilsson Schmilsson' and the original recording of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.
The mid-70s period provided Chris Spedding with perhaps his 3 defining moments

1. He was a Womble - he played on the tracks, and when Top Of The Pops called he appeared as Wellington, complete with his trademark Gibson Flying V

2. He was the producer of the fist studio sessions for the Sex Pistols.  He'd already appeared at the 100 Club Punk Festival (backed by The Vibrators) and released the single "Pogo Dancing"

Whilst not being a Womble, and before he produced the Pistols, Chris Spedding's abilities weren't going un-noticed and he was on the list of "possibles" as a replacement for Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones.
Legend (or myth) says he was either unavailable to join the Stones tour later in the year, turned it down flatly when offered, got the wrong day and/or venue for his audition, or bluntly refused the invitation to audition stating "if you want me, I'll join.  But I'm not auditioning".
Whatever the reason - Chris Spedding didn't join up with Mick, Keef, Charlie and Bill.
What he did do was sign a solo deal with Mickie Most's Rak Records, and ...

3. released the single "Motorbikin'" and appeared on Top Of The Pops donned out in leather, motorbike boots, and a heavily greased quiff.  Plus the Gibson Flying V was on show again.

You can bet your life that if any TV programme has a feature including motorbikes, Chris's song will be soundtracking it.


  1. Well, I now know more about Chris Spedding than I'd ever imagined possible. Thank you.

    Not sure whether you'll branch out into mopeds, but this is a must if you do...


    1. Now that's good - thanks for posting it.
      And there was me half expecting Jasper Cattott's Funky Moped
      (too obvious really)

  2. His 'Spunk' sessions from '76 with the Pistols are legendary.