Throwback Thursday | Motocross and Music: When Worlds Collide!

By Billy Rainford

Photos supplied by Jeff Campbell unless noted

Jeff Campbell guitarist of the Forgotten Rebels at Hully Gully on a 1978 Yamaha YZ125.

We’ve all got that one band we liked more than all others. We’ve seen them live more than all other bands combined. They helped get you through the turbulent years of adolescence and taught you things about life that you use to this very day.

I’ll tell anyone who will listen that music listened to during your formative years should mean something by being full of angst that makes you question the establishment, norms, and what’s expected of you. Sunshine and lollipop music from many genres just doesn’t do that. Punk rock teaches you to think for yourself and look for meaning in things.

When I was a teenager, my close friend had an older brother who opened our eyes to this new-to-us form of music and self-expression. It was also the time in my life when the only other thing that mattered was Motocross (Not like that’s changed much to this day, actually!).

The Canadian punk rock scene was thriving in the 1980’s and The Forgotten Rebels from Hamilton, Ontario, were one of the groups leading the charge with their tongue-in-cheek approach to matters of the day. The first time I saw lead singer Mickey DeSadest‘s antics on stage, I was changed for life – half glam rock, half punk rock, making jokes between songs and revving the crowd into a frenzy…with duct tape on his nipples.

Mickey DeSadest singing with Dan Casele on Drums in Hamilton circa 2007. | Bigwave photo

If I’m being honest, the first time I saw them at a club was in London when I was freshly 18. The owner of the bar was a fellow motocross racer and when I got to the doors to get in, I showed him that it was my birthday that day (which it was). It just happened to be my 18th and not my 19th. Sorry, Mike H.

I slam danced and had the time of my life. Things got so crazy that I actually got my first downtown hands-in-my-pockets sucker punch in the face outside the venue after the show. That’s punk rock, folks!

We used to get the band to play at our high school as often as we could. Their music can get a little…raunchy…at times so they had strict rules about which songs were off the table and which lyrics needed to be changed to something a bit more palatable for the masses.

Title track from their first full length album in 1979.

When the show was over, the band actually showed up at a friend’s after party and played the songs they weren’t allowed to with nothing more than the tiny ukulele Kevin had in the family’s living room. Great story, yes, but the kicker is that I didn’t believe they were going to show up so I went home…after hitting McDonalds, of course.

But I digress…

The Rebels is a band that I’ve seen all over Canada, from London, Hamilton, Toronto, all the way to Vancouver. We’ve always made a point of hitting the shows whenever and wherever we can.

Now, here’s where this story gets its title.

A couple years ago I tagged the band in a post on our Instagram page, and wouldn’t you know it, someone from the band commented on the post. Not only that, they said they were into Motocross back in the 1980’s and were still following it! Cool.

See anyone you recognize? Let us know.

I was blown away, so the wheels in my head started turning. I’m still in the process of getting together with the guys for an interview covering two of the most important things in my life, Motocross and Punk Rock music. I’m also going to try to get Jeff Campbell (the guitarist since 1989) who’s been the one I’ve been chatting with on IG to a track to ride and shoot some photos and video.

Jeff also told me that Mickey used to be into it, too, but never got to the point where he raced. Yes, this would be the greatest moment of my life, if you have to ask. 🤣

Jeff said he used to race from Schoolboy to 125 for BK Cycle over many years.

Last September, he sent me a photo of the DMX Van parked at Motopark for a race. I always get a kick out of it when someone does that, but when it’s a member of The Rebels doing it, let’s just say it’s a little different! We were at the same event and I never talked to him. To this day, I still haven’t met him.

They’re actually playing at the Palasad Social Bowl in London on October 7th, but I’ll be at the MXON in France, so I won’t be there.

Let us know which band is like this for you.