Ghost Rider

B-movie guitarist Davie Allan.
B-movie guitarist Davie Allan.
You'd think the guy behind all those scruffy, fuzz-tone instrumentals that accompanied many of the '60s' premier motorcycle films was a dedicated biker himself. Or at least had ingested enough era-approved psychedelics to fuel his own trip, mind or otherwise. But according to guitarist Davie Allan, the myth is more interesting than the truth.

"I always hate to have to say this, but I've never even been on [a motorcycle]," he says. "People ask me what I was on when I did some of these things, and when I tell them that I never hit any drugs or anything, they just about fall over. Boring, huh?"

Instead, Allan, leader of the recently regrouped Arrows and the writer of such movie-derived tunes as "Theme From the Wild Angels" and "Devil's Angels," finds inspiration in the serene sounds of "Moon River" composer Henry Mancini. He's especially proud of his recordings of Mancini's "Theme From Peter Gunn" (which is also a tip of the hat to Allan's guitar hero Duane Eddy) and "Experiment in Terror," which is included on 1994's Fuzz Fest, one of two recently reissued albums Allan and the Arrows are currently on the road supporting. (The other is '96's Loud Loose & Savage; both initially suffered from shoddy distribution.)

In the mid-'60s, L.A. native Allan originally supplied music for a documentary film on skateboarders. B-movie producer Roger Corman saw the flick and tapped Allan and the Arrows for the soundtracks to several of his biker films; other filmmakers soon followed suit (among Allan's "two dozen or so B-movie" achievements: The Wild Angels, which spawned the Top 40 "Blue's Theme," Born Losers, and The Glory Stompers). Some of the songs were written specifically for the films, Allan says, while many others were pulled from the Allan catalog and plugged into the features. "They cut a lot of corners then," he says with a laugh.

As for his grungy, fuzzy sound, Allan explains, it was initially a matter of economics: "Everybody was trying to plug into the same amplifier." He and the Arrows have a new album due in September, and Allan says he has no intentions of slowing down now that his band, which re-formed five years ago, has found its target. "I've written more tunes in the '90s than I wrote in the '60s, '70s, and '80s put together," he says. "I don't know what happened. All of a sudden, these melodies just keep coming forth." Born to be wild, indeed.

— Michael Gallucci

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.
Scroll to read more Things to Do articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.