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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

John Parham

John Parham
1954 – 2017

Robin Bradley writes …
Along with many hundreds of people in the motorcycle industry, it was with great sadness that I learned of the death of John Parham at the end of last week.
John was my friend; John will always be my friend.

I first met John in 1989, I think it was, on my first ever business road trip to the United States - after quite by chance finding myself in the motorcycle industry earlier that year.
Unlikely as it was, I was planning to drive from Milwaukee to Des Moines, Iowa, on that trip, and would be going right past the door of J&P Cycles. I had wondered about calling him once I was in the U.S. and inviting myself to go and find out about him.

Coincidentally he called me at my office in England just 48 hours before I was due to leave. He was expressing interest in the magazine I then worked on. John said he was interested in options to grow international sales, so wanted a media info kit.

“Sure,” I said, “I could drop it off on Friday afternoon.” 

There was a moment’s polite silence, then in the characteristic Iowa accent that I’d come to love, he calmly explained that he was actually calling me from the United States. 

“Thanks for the offer, but it’s okay. You see, I’m calling you from Iowa, so you’d probably just better put it in the mail.”

“I know where you’re calling me from, and I’m driving right past your place in three days’ time,” I said.

Stunned silence.

“Urm, nah, I doubt that. Nobody “just drives by my place,” especially not from England. I’m miles from anywhere. What makes you think you’ll be driving past my place?”

“Well, I’ve got to get from Milwaukee to Des Moines, and I figured I’d go via Madison (to visit with S&S), Dubuque, and then cut across country – Anamosa is on the 151, and that’s the way I’m planning to drive … I’m flying out to Chicago tomorrow!”

Extremely stunned silence.


John became one of the first contacts I made in the custom parts industry on that first road trip … and 28 years later?

We all lost a friend at the end of last week.
There have been some excellent tributes paid to John on the internet, and rather than trying to do justice to an amazing man and his amazing life here, let me point you towards a couple of online resources.

There’s a great bio of John (and Jill) on the National Motorcycle Museum website here …

… and his original inductee proposal and a link to his acceptance speech at the induction ceremony, when he was elected to the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2015, can be found here …

“You and I will meet again, when we're least expecting it;
one day in some far-off place, I will recognize your face;
I won't say goodbye my friend, for you and I will meet again”

A Celebration of John Parham’s Life will be held at The National Motorcycle Museum May 6 at 10:30am

Photo by Onno Wieringa of Madness Photography