Legendary comedian Billy Connolly recently shared a harrowing tale of a close encounter with a biker gang that left even the master of comedy quite intimidated.
Connolly, known for his sharp wit and side-splitting performances, took a brief departure from humour to recount the chilling experience that unfolded many years ago in his new book Rambling Man: My Life On The Road.
The incident began as Connolly embarked on a solo motorcycle adventure across both North and South Islands of New Zealand as part of his 2004 World Tour of New Zealand documentary series.
His outfit for this memorable journey included a distinctive jacket adorned with the words ‘Too Old To Die Young,’ written in Hells Angels-style typography, complete with a skull logo.
During one fateful morning, Connolly, clad in his striking jacket, set out on his three-wheeled motorbike. Little did he know that this choice of attire would lead to a heart-pounding confrontation with the Mongrel Mob, New Zealand’s largest and most notorious biker gang.
“I was out riding by myself one morning in Wellington wearing my jacket when I realised I was being flanked by teamsters from the Mongrel Mob. That’s the largest biker gang in New Zealand and it has quite a reputation,” he recalled.
“They surrounded me at some traffic lights and pulled me into a side street. I felt vulnerable because I was completely alone.
“One of them asked ‘Where’d you get your jacket?’ I said ‘I got in Los Angeles. A girl made it for me. She got permission from the Hells Angels.’
“They were pretty aggressive. They went away and had a little conference. Then they came back and said ‘That’s okay.’ They backed off and let me go on my way.
“Afterwards, my TV crew went crazy because they didn’t get any of that on film. And I didn’t talk about it onstage because I wanted to get out of town in one piece.”
This recollection of Connolly’s heart-pounding encounter with the Mongrel Mob comes at a poignant moment, as the comedian has recently opened up about the challenges he faces due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
In his latest update, the comedian revealed that he has noticed “a deterioration” in his balance which has resulted in “a couple of serious falls”.
“It’s very difficult to see the progression exactly, because a lot of things come and go,” he told The Guardian.
“Recently I’ve noticed a deterioration in my balance. That was never such a problem before, but in the last year that has come and it has stayed.
“For some reason, I thought it would go away, because a lot of symptoms have come and gone away … just to defy the symptom spotters. The shaking has reappeared.”
Connolly’s wife, Pamela Stephenson, revealed that “the balance issue has been most significant” which resulted in “a couple of serious falls”.
Famous for his ability to find the humour in any situation, Connolly explained that his recent fall reminded him of a joke he would often share during his stand-up performances.
“It’s funny, that fall I had when I landed on my jaw reminded me of a thing I used to do on stage,” he began.
“I used to say: ‘I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall’.”