Eddie Kidd’s next challenge: Ahead of his festival of stunts, MCN joins the legendary high-flying superstar for a jump down memory lane

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Stunt rider, record breaker, movie star, model; Eddie Kidd OBE has lived a life that most of us could only dream of. The London-born star had his eyes opened to the high-flying world of stunt riding after watching Evel Knievel at the cinema as a youngster, and it wasn’t long after that before he joined a cycle stunt team and set the wheels in motion for a career that would define the British stunt scene.

Although it was pedal power to begin with, Eddie got his first taste of motorcycles when he was just 13, then spent 25 years conquering near-impossible feats.

But in 1996, Eddie’s career was cut short when he sustained life-changing injuries whilst landing a jump at the Bulldog Bash.

Eddie Kidd injured in a jump attempt

Undeterred, the self-proclaimed Black Knight’s bravery still shines through in charity fundraising activities, and also in the performances of the generation of stunt riders who followed in his wake, many of whom are coming together in Chelmsford this weekend to perform in a special stunt show to celebrate the man himself.

Ahead of the event, MCN visited Kidd at home on the south coast to chat about his most memorable moments.

Jumping into stardom

The tapestry that makes up Eddie’s life’s work adorns the walls of his home near Brighton. Photographs, posters, even bits of bike bodywork document his career. And each item has a fascinating story behind it…

A youthful Eddie Kidd

An image in black and white near the skirting boards is the first that Eddie, now 63, points out as we cluster together in the hall. It’s a black and white shot showing him as 12-year-old in the Cyclomaniacs.

Once he turned 16, Eddie jumped 13 double decker buses on a CCM at Picketts Lock – a jump you can see on YouTube. As he landed, the crew expected to catch the stunt rider with a sheet of tarpaulin before he barrelled into a ditch, but instead, Eddie smashed through the hand-held barrier, sending his father up in the air and breaking his collarbone.

Framed along with other images from the stunt show that weekend is a telegram from the Queen, wishing Eddie luck on his jump. When Eddie points at the next picture depicting him in mid-air with blurry crowds in the background, former stunt team member Lance Jones smiles, as he remembers it well.

Eddie Kidd bus jump

“That was at Brands Hatch when Eddie jumped over 32 Metros in 1982,” Lance says. “They flew the bike in by helicopter… I thought it was way over the top, but they did it. Eddie raced around the track and he must have hit that thing at 100mph. I saw the length of the jump before they put the cars in and just sat there thinking, thank god I’m not doing this!”

World champion

With over 3000 successful jumps to his name, a highlight of Eddie’s life was the Daredevil Duel in 1993 against Robbie Knievel – the son of Evel. The pair duked it out at a Mississippi casino to see who would win the title of World Champion.

The jumps were both a test of precision as well as distance, and Eddie was so confident he even organised a surprise for his competitor. Before the contest began, Eddie got his team matching T-shirts to put on underneath what they were wearing. As soon as the last jump was finished, in a flurry of shirts, the team revealed their hidden message: ‘Eddie Kidd, Official World Champion’.

Eddie Kidd's world championship belt

As part of his winnings, Eddie got a cheque from the casino for $1000, on which he had to choose red or black on the roulette wheel. Eddie says: “Even though I am the Black Knight, I never thought it would go on black, and me, like a d*ck, put it on red and the black won!”

“Because it was a casino, they put the belt up like it was world championship boxing,” Lance chips in. “They had the jump off for it, and of course, Eddie won it. Afterwards, Knievel wanted the opportunity to jump again against Eddie for that belt, but it never happened. So that belt stays with Eddie. And as you saw Robbie Knievel say in the Top Gear documentary, he deserves that.”

That same year, in another world first, Eddie jumped over the Great Wall of China. A feat in itself, but what was more thrilling is that Eddie couldn’t see the landing ramp when he took off. Plus, the ramp wasn’t very long, and Eddie had to stuff himself and the bike into a wall of cardboard boxes at the end. But the jump was a success and the daredevil quickly leapt off the bike and took his helmet off to the cheering crowd.

Eddie Kidd with Evel Knievel

A life of celebrity

But it wasn’t just about the stunts. A shot of Eddie’s denim-clad rear is a reminder of his time as a Levi’s model; framed records from his brief stint as a musician, and there are even pictures of him working alongside Hollywood superstars, Pierce Brosnan and Richard Gere.

As well as starring alongside those greats, Kidd also topped the bill in Riding High, a movie where not only did he get a chance to act, he also got to showcase his skills in the film’s impressive stunts, one of which, a jump over the river Blackwater in Maldon, Essex, had never been attempted before.

“You can see where his knee hit the wall at the end,” says Billie Mobayed, Eddie’s partner, as she points out the image of Eddie’s leathers from the jump. Sure enough, the leathers are in tatters.

Eddie Kidd wheelie

Lance also remembers that day, particularly the high crosswinds which added to the danger. “No one had ever done a jump like that before. He had things in the way, cars, buses, trucks and no one had ever jumped a gap like that.”

Coming to the end of the hallway, we stop to take a look at some of the images that are squeezed between doorframes, and another face jumps out – Evel Knievel. The inspiration behind Eddie’s career, the image shows the two stunting legends mid-handshake. What was Eddie feeling in that image, finally meeting his idol? “He was pleased to see me!” Eddie smiles.

Just underneath is a sketch of what would have been Eddie’s next jump. 13 double decker buses on top of another 13 double deckers. Sadly, the jump never happened.

The next chapter

One of Eddie Kidd's bikes from his career, Sid, complete with dented fuel tank

Eddie was living the high life that came with fame and stardom until August 6, 1996, when his career ended abruptly at the Bulldog Bash at Long Marston Airfield. Unlike other jumps, this one landed on an incline and as Eddie touched down, his helmet hit the tank and he was knocked unconscious.

No longer in control, Eddie plunged down a 20ft drop and broke his pelvis, collarbone, six vertebrae and sustained brain injuries. Although the bones healed, he still has severe movement restriction, but his bike, Sid (named as such because it was so vicious) takes pride of place in the hall and is a stark reminder of the accident that changed his life – the dent in the tank still visible.

But his career didn’t end there. As we jostle down the hallway, a letter from Richard Branson catches my eye, and nearby are colour photographs of Eddie outside Buckingham Palace. “Eddie completed the London Marathon in 50 days in a specialised walker,” says Billie. “He raised more than £75, 000 for Children with Cancer UK which is Eddie’s official charity that he sponsors. The walker was built for him by Chas, his mechanic who also built Sid.”

Eddie Kidd interviewed by MCN

Eddie was presented his OBE by the then Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and Charles reportedly said, ‘it’s about time Eddie,’ to which he replied, ‘cheers big ears!’

More recently, Eddie’s been working closely with Motorshow Events to put on ‘a festival of stunts’ this weekend in Chelmsford where he’ll be at every show in person ready to meet and greet anyone that comes. That, and his work with multiple charities including ShoeAid and Children with Cancer shows that 80s star Eddie Kidd OBE isn’t finished yet.

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