By Dave Walters
As you read this, let your mind float back. I’d say close your eyes but then how the fuck would you read this. Imagine in your head you’ve swept back to 1935. McCook Illinois and you’ve just pulled your Harley up along side a group in jackets stitched with McCook Outlaws on the back. Some of those same kids you just met will be gone soon. They’ll go off and fight in Europe and the Pacific . They’ll take Normandy and Saipan. They’ll become the greatest generation and return home, you’ll see them again, in May 1946 at Soldier Field . The first large Midwest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts post WWII. The next year, an event will change the biker landscape in a little farm town called Hollister. It will give way to Lynch reports, Marlon Brando , OMC patches on vests of racing clubs banned by the AMA from events. In ’59 your friends from McCook now based in Chicago will add cross pistons and by ’65 it will change again and have a name, Charlie. In 1963 you’ll be there as they attend the Brotherhood of Clubs meeting, embracing the 1% moniker stitched to them by overzealous newspaper men and re-election needing sheriffs.
They’ll become the first east of the Mississippi and in 64 you’ll attend the races that see the Gypsy Outlaws of Milwaukee and Louisville join to become the Outlaws Nation. in ’65 you’ll have a front row seat to the birth of the AOA. American Outlaws Association. Just 7 years later you’ll meet a man named Harold Joseph Bowman. The world will come to call hI’m Taco 1%er. Yesterday, that man passed away in a Federal Prison Hospital and with him, another part of our history and culture was gone. He was born in the tiny town of Marysville MI, population 9,700 and across the border from Ontario on the St.Clair River. Taco became the International Boss in 1984 a position he would hold for over 13 years. He was a leading figure of the first Outlaws MC chapter outside the US, in Canada in 1977 as he learned and apprenticed under his mentor Stairway Harry. Taco became the International Boss in 1984 a position he would hold for over 13 years. He would move the National Position from the traditional sacred grounds of Chicago, to his home Chapter of Detroit Michigan .
As Boss he was beloved by those he served. He would expand the club to over 200 chapters worldwide including the first chapters in France, Norway, Australia and one of the largest expansions of any Club, when he brought the English Outlaws into the AOA Brotherhood. When you think of the history of this life, of this culture, no matter if you like it or not, certain names stick out. Iconic figures in this life who molded what we see and think of as part of our culture. Taco 1%er was no doubt that kind of leader and man. When I think of the history of the MC, certain names stamp the look and feel of entire decades. Smokin Joe and his San Francisco MC, Tex Bryant leading the 13 Rebels reminds me of the pre WWII racing and grit that made up wooden banked tracks and brought us into the golden age of dirt flat track and cross country races.
Wino Willie is the post WWII definition of a biker of living free of the need of the soldier to capture Brotherhood and a rush. That is unquestionable. Dick Herscberg and his Galloping Goose motorcycle although very much apart of the 40s, brings me into the 50s. Names like the Satan Slaves and of course Sonny Barger and his Hells Angels are the 60s. Guys like Danny Lyons and Flash 1%er are as much apart of the 60s in the Midwest, but I would argue were overshadowed by Hollywood lights until later in life . When you think of the 80s and 90s style of Biker, you are lying if you say that image isn’t Taco. With all honesty and due Respect, we can say a lot of things good and bad about these transformative decades in our Biker history.
But agree or disagree with him. That image is Taco. To a T he shaped what we thought of for that generation of 1%ers. For his family this is a devastating loss. To his Brothers and Sons carrying on his legacy, this is a hole and wound that will take time to close and heal. To us reading this is the loss of another Icon in our culture. Please, if you do nothing else for me ever, sit the fuck down w those greybeards and hear the stories. Preserve the history. Soak up the opportunities. On the street or behind bars, don’t let the legacy, legends and love die. for those of you with some more grey than usual in your beard, pass along the lessons.
Rest in Peace Taco 1%er.