Two events i have seen ; Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and The Gathering of the Vibes music festival. Each very different drawing different crowds but each very similar in their spirit and the spirit of those who make these events huge.
What makes America unique, strong and independent are her people, people who live with passion, play hard and work hard, people with extreme dedication to their lives and lifestyles.
The two groups that attend these events exemplify this spirit profoundly; Harley Davidson owners and Deadheads. Nowhere will you find more loyal, dedicated and staunch believers than these two groups, why?
Harley owns the motorcycle market, 90% hundreds of thousands of bikes at Sturgis are Harleys, a few others like my Yamaha are copies of the V twin, chromed out style. Harley owners are the most staunch consumer group in the country, they would rather fight that switch, when they think motorcycle they think Harley.
So again why? Firstly, both are as American as apple pie. Harley is American made and proud of it. Relinquishing claims to quality and technology to foreign bikes, Harley sells the image and the family. Harley advertisements never mention statistics, technology or performance, they sell freedom, family and fun. The history of the company is amazing from failed leadership to corporate buyout to a takeover by the employees themselves. the HOG (Harley owners groups) clubs are worldwide, i saw one in Bali. When you buy a Harley you join a family and a good one. Harley owners are community people supporting many good causes, especially anything to do with veterans and our troops.
The Dead come from the music roots of America. The original members played jazz, folk, blue grass and blues and the music has always reflected those roots. The band and its members have always avoided “superstar” status like Mick Jagger or Michael Jackson, Jerry is more of a spiritual leader than star. with only two records in fifty years reaching the top sales charts, yet they hold the record for being the most attended live band in history. I know many who have seen over 200 shows, many fans “go on tour” with the band following them across the country, no other performers have that following.
When a Deadhead greats another at a show he will say ” have a good show” not “enjoy the show” as the fans are as a much a part of the event as the band. The essence of the devotion to the band is covered in several books, Tribes and All i Need to Know about Business i learned from the Grateful Dead. As with Harley they have created a fan base like no other and listen intensely to that base. Like Harley, the band encourages community involvement beyond the shows. Causes like organ donation, voter registration and the amazing story of the Lithuanian Basket Ball team which won a bronze medal in their first Olympics with the financial support of the band. Being a Deadhead requires being a good citizen.
Both Harley and the Dead have loyal long time entrenched employees who put their heart and soul into their jobs. The Dead had the same roadies for decades, well paid and invested in the quality of the show. One roady was so much a part of the family that a song was written about his new born son, a song still song by the band members and tribute bands.
Each following have ritualized attire, common but individualized and always proudly displaying the logo of their source. Harley has its name on everything with a merchandizing program above all. The Deadhead are not far behind, i own GD socks. My Jerry Doll has a place of high esteem on Furthur. i have given Harley and GD dog collars to my respective dog owner friends.