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Wrecking Crew > Albert Emmet

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Albert - photo courtesy of Pete Smallwood, NHC

Albert Emmet
21st April 1930 - 23rd May 2003
Founder Member of The Wrecking Crew in 1969

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It was love at first sight, said Albert. I'd never seen a Harley Davidson in real life before. Just when I was at the pictures with some American cop hiding on one behind a billboard. At the time Albert was riding an Ariel Square Four and saving up for a Hydraglide. The price tag on the 45 he saw in the bike shop window was £150 a lot of money in 1947. The 45 was an Army war surplus machine that had been bought in its crate by Kings of Oxford. Albert had to have it. He fired in with forty quid cash and traded in the Ariel Square Four.

Albert2_45 And so began the legend that has become Albert Emmet and the Wrecking Crew....

Albert Emmet, was born on the 21st April 1930. The last time I saw him he was aged almost 73 years old but he was still the same cheerful, big-hearted bear of a man known and loved by Harley riders the world over. This page is dedicated to the man who made it all happen. The man who made the Wrecking Crew and the man who was one of the first dozen to own and ride a Harley Davidson in the UK.

albert1_b&w I was round at his house with Lucan one cold Sunday afternoon in January 2003 to talk about his life and times. Needless to say Albert was more interested in entertaining his audience than in giving out information.

"You know why they call Harley Davidson's Hogs?" he asked me in that way that has you laughing, even before the punch line is on its way out. I just shook my head because I've already got tears running down my cheeks. "Because they leave puddles everywhere and they like riding in the back of trucks", Albert finishes off. So when the laughter subsides I tried to slip in another question. But now him and Lucan were sparking off each other and there was no stopping him.

"And do you know what AMF stands for ?" asked Albert, his eyes twinkling with mirth. I just shook my head. Out came the perfectly timed reply, from Albert, "Adios, Mother-Fucker". We all collapsed with another belly laugh.

albert3_terry This was Albert at his best. The sort of form that used to have thousands of bikers laughing fit to bust at thousand of rallies and in thousands of bars over many happy years. I remember watching him and thinking, "This guy could have been a bigger stand up act than Billy Connolly".

And Albert had what it takes. The commanding presence, the quick wit, the intelligence and the total self-confidence to keep the banter coming until you just want to crawl off and die because it hurt to laugh so much. On top of that he had the rarest and most treasured quality that any human being can have. When he was talking to you he made you feel that you were the most important person in the world. And that was probably why everybody loved him.

albert4_des In between the laughs bits of his story slipped out. In 1947 he was travelling down London Road in Liverpool when he set eyes on a gleaming 45 in a motor cycle shop window. It was a US Army surplus machine. One of many bought up by Kings of Oxford when the Yanks were clearing off home after the war and leaving all their kit behind. The bikes were still in the crates when Kings got hold of them. After being assembled and given a civilian coat of paint they went on sale for £150. A fortune back in those days. When Albert saw the bike he was saving up for a Hydraglide and riding about on an Arial Square 4. He put in £40 of his own money and traded in the Arial to buy the 45. It served him well and he rode it until 1979 when he parted with it for £800. Not bad when you consider all the miles and all the fun he had had on it in the meantime.

But there was far more to Albert than being one of the first Harley Davidson owners in the country. This was a time when there were so few Harley riders in the UK that they held house meetings. This was when Fred Warr was the only Harley Davidson importer in the UK and he had a map on his wall marked with red dots to show the towns where all the Harley riders lived.

Dark Town Strutter - Click for larger version But there was a lot more to Albert than being a biker. He was a time-served Master Plumber who could have told you more about Gallileo than you could have read in an encyclopaedia. He was also a versatile and talented musician and could play not only a mean guitar but was also accomplished on the banjo. At one time he played as a member of the "Dark Town Strutters". They had a regular gig at the Palace Hotel in Southport for six years. On top of that he was a family man and celebrated his Golden Wedding to Pat in December 2002.

Suddenly, we had been talking for hours and my ribs were hurting from the laughter. It was time to go but little did I realise that this was to be my last meeting with a living legend. I had come to find out Albert's story and try to put it down for others to read later. But it was already too late. Albert checked out only a couple of months later on the eve of the Wrecking Crew Rally at Silverdale in 2003. The Wrecking Crew met up that night and relived his life with all the stories that had he told to make us laugh over the years. It was a party and we celebrated his life. Albert may not have been there in body but he was in spirit. And his story will live on.

There will never be another one like Albert Emmett.....


Paddy : Club Secretary


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  Albert - courtesy of Pete Smallwood, NHC  
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