Dave Mann’s dad was a lifelong illustrator and active member of the Society of Scribes in London. The younger Mann was born in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1957 he first drew pencil sketches of hot rods while feigning attention in high school. His crude sketches opened the door for Dave’s first job, pinstriping cars for Doug Thompson and Ray Hetrick’s custom car shop in Kansas City. The wild allure of the West Coast drew Dave and buddy Al Burnett to Santa Monica, California. While cruising the seaside community he stumbled across Bay Area Muffler, an area custom car house, and there discovered completely insane chopped Harleys. The bikes drove him wild. They projected freedom, power and mobility with every chromed curve. He was immediately hooked.
Dave Mann returned to Kansas City and bought his first new bike, a ’48 Panhead, for $350. At the same time he created his first painting, “Hollywood Run.” It represented the wild, unleashed, Hollywood outlaw lifestyle. Riding his customized Harley with his painting tucked under his arm, Dave entered the ’63 Kansas City Custom Car Show. That car show launched his artistic & biker career. Dave Mann had the only custom-bike entry in the show, so for his creative efforts the judges initiated a new class and trophy specifically for him.
Dave Mann painted several posters for Big Daddy Roth, the California custom car creator and publisher of the first chopper magazine. In ’65, he went to work in the mailroom at Scheffer Studios in Kansas city, where he met an architectural renderer, Dave Poole, who taught him technical drawing. By ’67, Mann developed into an architectural renderer, having studied at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Then in 1971, Dave discovered a new magazine— Easyriders. And the rest as they say, is history– the two are now forever inseparable in any hardcore biker’s heart and mind. Easyriders was the first full-fledged, lifestyle-related bike rag. Since Easyriders third issue, Dave Mann has led the biker magazine industry by capturing the essence of a changing lifestyle in the epic center-spreads.
Due to his failing health, Dave Mann was forced to retire from Easyriders in 2003 — the years of paint fumes had deteriorated his lungs to the point where surgeons had to remove them both and put him on a breathing machine. Sadly, Dave died about a day after his 64th birthday, Sept. 11 2004.
RIP, Dave Mann.