Tag Archives: RAD

Thunder in Your Heart Thunderdome!

Back in 1997 when I first saw the Paul Thomas Anderson flick Boogie Nights I felt like my brain was going to melt.  It wasn’t just that the film was amazing, it was and is still one of my favorite Anderson films, but it was one of the first times I experienced the weird pangs of childhood nostalgia in a situation that made zero sense to me.  When Mark Whalberg’s Dirk Diggler holes up in a studio to record a cover of Stan Bush’s The Touch from the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie soundtrack my jaw dropped.  It’s like a pop culture Thunderdome.  Two pop culture properties enter, one new amazing property leaves…


This was pre-internet and a good four or five years before there was even a murmur of an 80s nostalgia wave about to hit pop culture. At the time I felt like I was the only person on the planet who adored the Transformers movie, let alone owned a copy of the soundtrack on CD and cassette. So the thought of Anderson (or whoever was helping to arrange the soundtrack for Boogie Nights) was aware of that song seemed weirdly impossible to me. Fast forward a decade and with a while new world of internet chat rooms, message boards, podcasts and blogs I realized that the fandom for Bush’s The Touch was much larger than I ever would have guessed. Still, that cross-pollination of musical pop culture fun has remained a fascinating moment for me.

Well, a couple weeks ago while on vacation with my girlfriend Jaime in Myrtle Beach, we stumbled on another instance of pop culture musical worlds colliding that again left me in a state of shock and awe. While digging through Spotify for some fun 80s era anthems to serve as our soundtrack as we made our final approach to the beach house, Jaime queued up one of my favorite songs, John Farnham’s Thunder in Your Heart from the Rad soundtrack. I’m pretty sure the whole Rad soundtrack is up on Spotify, but for once she was looking for that specific song and when it popped up in the search something amazing happened. It popped up with multiple results, two of which had me doing a double take. Right under John Farnham were versions of the song performed by two other 80s anthem powerhouses, Stan Bush and Joe Esposito! I’ve already mentioned Bush’s The Touch from Transformers, but for those unfamiliar with Esposito’s work, he worked on a little song you might have heard from the Karate Kid soundtrack called You’re The Best. Now there are a lot of great 80s anthems, and most folks will quickly point to bands like Huey Lewis and the News or Journey as some of the best at the craft. But for me, it’s all about the triumvirate of soundtracks from Rad, Transformers, and the Karate Kid when it comes to super motivational, montage rock.


I know Rad has a very rabid fan base, but for all that love, the film has still yet to make the transition to the modern home video age.  It’s never being officially released on DVD, let alone Blu-Ray or HD streaming, and the VHS release was only aimed at video stores and not the general public. Though I’ve heard through the grapevine that this is finally about to change next year, Rad is for all intents and purposes a pretty obscure cult flick. I’ve talked Ad nauseam about my love for the film (just take a look at the trading cards I designed for the flick, the episodes of the Cult Film club where we discussed the flick and interviewed star Bill “Cru” Allen, or my review of Mr. Allen’s memoir), but I’ve never really written all that much about the soundtrack.  It’s an album that I love dearly.  I own it on vinyl, on a bootleg, semi-official CD pressing that came out in the mid-2000′s, and even the official digital release that came out a couple of years ago.  The whole album is great (Sparks is probably in my top five favorite bands), but the handful of John Farnham songs, specifically Break the Ice and Thunder in Your Heart, are some of my all time favorite anthems.  So when I found out that not just one, but both of my other favorite anthem singers covered Farnham’s song from Rad I was gobsmacked.

John Farnham

John Farnham

As soon as we got back from vacation I had to figure out more about these Esposito and Bush TiYH covers, as well as the origins of the Farnham song.  I never really stopped to think about who actually wrote the song.  Honestly, I figured that it was a Farnham original, especially since he provided three songs for the Rad soundtrack, I was under the impression that he was contracted out by the production to provide some original music for the film.  As it turns out though, not only did Farnham not write the song, I think it may have even predated Rad.  In fact there is a possibility that the song was actually written with the intention of debuting on a completely different soundtrack.  Before I dig into that I wanted to take a second and look at the duo who is actually responsible for writing Thunder in Your Heart, Gloria Sklerov & Lenny Macaluso.

Left: Lenny Macaluso & Tina Turner. Right: Gloria Sklerov & Stan Bush

Left: Lenny Macaluso & Tina Turner. Right: Gloria Sklerov & Stan Bush

Lenny Macaluso and Gloria Sklerov are a couple of the unsung heroes of 80s era anthems.  Macaluso was the main composer on the show My Two Dads, co-wrote “The Touch” with Stan Bush and the duo wrote and composed the romance theme “Let the Love Begin” from Thrashin’ and more importantly “Thunder in Your Heart”.  Sklerov also co-wrote with Stan Bush.  The duo won an Emmy for their work on the song “Until I was Loved By You” for the soap opera Guiding Light.  Sklerov has also written songs for The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield and the song “Ain’t Love Good Tonight” for the film Clint Eastwood flick Every Which Way But Loose.  It’s rare that the composers ever get much of the spotlight, but the duo are definitely an important in bringing us some iconic 80s music for sure.

So let’s take a look at the actual versions of the song.  From what I can tell there are four versions that I know of,  two are from Rad (performed by John Farnham), one that made it into the film and on the soundtrack which is 3 minutes and 38 seconds long, and a second, alternate extended version that was released when the soundtrack was released digitally which clocks in at 4 minutes, 38 seconds.  Then there is a cover of the song performed by Joe Espositio that I’m having a little bit of trouble nailing down release information for.  That track clocks in at 3 minutes, 18 seconds and is the shortest version of the four.  Lastly, there’s a version by Stan Bush that was released this past year with his latest album, The Ultimate.  That version clocks in at 3 minutes, 30 seconds.  All four versions feature the same basic overall structure with slight differences in pace and timing, and in Esposito’s case some alternate lyrics.

In my mind, the Farnham version from the film and Soundtrack is the definitive version.  It’s the one I heard first and the version that just…sounds right, for lack of a better description. The second that song plays I see the qualifying race from Rad in my mind’s eye, without fail.  I know for a lot of people “You’re the Best” is the go to 80s anthem, and I do love it, but whenever I’m out running and need to finish that last mile or something like that, it’s TiYH for me.  As far as the difference between the original and extended versions of the song, the longer one is pretty much the same (though the guitar solo comes in a few seconds earlier) and at the 3:38 mark the song slows down with a more groovy feel to the beat in the background as it plays out the chorus one more time.

Here are the lyrics for those not familiar…

Thunder in Your Heart – John Farnham Version

You’re taking a chance, risking it all
For the thrill of the moment
Taking a stand, you ain’t gonna fall
And you’ve always known it
They’re dying to shake you,
Trying their best to break you
And though the going is rough, you’re going home as a hero

‘Cause there’s thunder in your heart
Every move is like lightning
It’s the power you feel when you get your taste of the glory
There’s a fire gonna start
And you know they’re going under
You can light the dark when they hear your heart of thunder.

Cry of the wind, spirit of fire
The heart of a lion
Taking control, burning desire
Your flame never dying

Don’t lose that feeling
Don’t ever stop believing
There’s one more moment of truth and you’re gonna face it

‘Cause there’s thunder in your heart
Every move is like lightning
It’s the power you feel when you get your taste of the glory
There’s a fire gonna start
and you know they’re going under
you can light the dark when they hear your heart of thunder.

When they hear your heart of thunder.

‘Cause there’s thunder in your heart
And you know they’re going under
You can light the dark when they hear your heart of thunder.

There is thunder in your heart
And you know they’re going under
You can light the dark when they hear your heart of thunder.

Powerful stuff.  So, as I mentioned above, as far as I knew up until a couple weeks ago the song was a John Farnham original, but now that I’ve heard the Joe Esposito version there are a few context clues that are making me wonder if it might pre-date the version from Rad.  First off, Esposito’s version is a little cleaner or stripped down, not as heavily layered with instrumentation.  Again, I haven’t been able to find any concrete release information for his version of the song, so I have no idea if it’s modern (like the Bush cover) or if it was released in the 80s when he was in his heyday.


Left: Joe Esposito

Another clue that makes me wonder is that there are some variations with the lyrics in the Esposito version.  Maybe it’s just me but it seems weird to think that Esposito would bother changing the lyrics if he were covering the song.  The differences between the two versions is also not stark, there really seems to be no obvious reason as to why the lyrics would have been changed.  It’s mainly the line “It’s the power you feel when you get your taste of the glory”, which Esposito changes to, “And you hit the mark with your hand on the wall you’ve been striking”.

Again, to me this feels like a slight shift in how the song was conceived and how it was potentially changed to fit in a bit better with the placement in the movie Rad.  Overall, the song is all about pushing through and kicking butt when the going gets tough.  But the line “It’s the power you feel when you get your taste of the glory” feels like it’s pointing towards winning in a competition, not just pushing through a tough point.  Esposito’s variation just reads a little more broad to me, and that feels like a first draft.  The theory that I have is that Esposito was the first to perform the song, very likely for inclusion in the Karate Kid soundtrack, but for some reason it was pulled.  Maybe Allee Willis was working on “You’re The Best” in tandem with Macaluso & Sklerov working on “Thunder in Your Heart”.  Maybe they were both in consideration for the final karate tournament montage.  Who knows.  But that’s the theory I’m going with as it’s all just conjecture on my part.  In an effort to be thorough I’ve reached out to both Macaluso and Sklerov (both are on Facebook), but have yet to hear back.

As for his version itself, I dig it, but I’m not nearly as fond of it as I am of Farnham & Bush’s versions.  His voice is raspier and his guitar solo isn’t nearly as fun as the other two.  That being said, there are some fun aspects to this version.  For one it’s much heavier on backing keyboards which I do enjoy, and at around the 2 minute 10 second mark there are some over the top thunderstorm sound effect overlays that are so goofy and spot on that you have to love them (like the Door’s Rider’s on the Storm…)


Last, but certainly not least, sees the reteaming of Lenny Macaluso & Stan Bush for a modern cover of Thunder in Your Heart that is in many ways similar to the Farnham performance of the song.  It was included on Bush’s most recent album, The Ultimate, and I hope that there are a bunch of Bush fans that will be exposed to the wonder that is TiYH.  Maybe, just maybe someone will dig a little deeper into the song and it’ll lead them to discovering the Rad soundtrack and eventually the film itself.  That’s what I hope at least.

So how is Bush’s cover?  Again, I enjoy it, but not as much as Farnham’s.  Bush has a much more tremble-y voice than Farnham, and he plays the song at a quicker pace. Because of this he doesn;t pause on the beats quite as much and to me it loses some of the power of the anthem.  There’s an art to performing a heart pounding song that really grabs you by the metaphorical balls and gets you pumped.  I think a big part of that is knowing when to be fast with a lot of intensity and energy, and when to pull back and let the audience soak in what they’re hearing.  Bush misses a lot of those dramatic beats in the song in my opinion.  On the other hand his solo is probably the best of the three, and like Esposito, Bush layers on thunderstorm effects and amps up the keyboards. So it’s not a total loss.

Before I sat down to write this article I was chatting with my girlfriend Jaime about it and she had a brilliantly silly idea that I totally fell in love with.  She suggested we create the audio equivalent all three versions of these songs battling it out for supremacy, in an environment like Thunderdome (from the 3rd Mad Max film.)  So she set to work to merging all three tracks into one, realigning them so that they all play basically at the same pace.  We call this the Thunder in Your Heart: The Thunderdome Remix.  It’s a cacophony of insanity, but it’s also probably the first time that John Farnham, Stan Bush, and Joe Esposito have every all played together at once (virtually that is!)

You can listen or down the Thunderdome Remix here


These 1984 Donruss BMX trading cards are Rad!

There are a lot of great 80s era pop culture collectibles on display at Branded HQ; toys, books, lunchboxes, stickers, vinyl albums, animation cels, and heaps of magazines and comics. Though I love all of that stuff, when I’m feeling really nostalgic the one collectible that I find myself going back to time and again are my vintage trading cards.  If you think about it, flipping through sets of cards is a lot like getting lost while surfing the internet.  They’re like a hard-copy version of tumblr, only instead of snarky memes and gifs there are pun-laden captions and lenticular or hologram chase cards (well, at least later on the 80s and into the 90s.)  And though I spend a lot of time flipping through my stack of card binders, it’s rare that I actually share these here on the site.

Sure, I’ve been making my own digital sets of cards to share here (for movies like The Monster Squad, Adventures in Babysitting, Young Guns, Young Guns II and Rad), but I typically tend to skip scanning and sharing vintage trading card sets in lieu of concentrating on any sticker-card subsets that may have been included.  Unless a set is completely comprised of sticker cards (like all the Little Shop of Horrors, Three’s Company, Supergirl, CHiPs, and all of the Garbage Pail Kids sets), I usually held off on sharing them for some odd reason.  Well, today I thought I’d finally share a set of straight up trading cards that are pretty darn cool.  Hailing from 1984 and printed & distributed by Donruss, here is the complete set of BMX cards…

1 A

This set consists of 59 different cards (yeah, that is a weird number) that are broken up into 10 different BMX bike brands including Redline, Torker, Hutch, Murray, Schwinn, Kuwahara, Hyper, Diamond Back, Huffy, and Raleigh.

19 A

Right: Kuwahara Laser Lite from E.T.

This consists of a pretty wide swath of 80s era BMX bike brands, though noticeably absent are GT, Haro, Skyway and Mongoose. I’m actually wondering if this set involved a partnership between Donruss and the included bike companies where these cards basically were issued as collectible advertisements.  I mean, I know that yes, literally that’s how these cards function, but I’m wondering if the companies paid a set price per card to be featured? It would explain the odd number of cards and the lack of some major BMX companies being represented…


Though the cards are broken down by company within the set, each company section is divided into two categories, riders and bikes.  The cards that only feature the bikes have a list of specs and a description on the back, while the rider cards feature either company blurbs, short biographies and/or vital statistics…

6    15

Also of note, this set is almost strictly geared towards BMX racing as opposed to the freestyle movement, so there aren’t any cards featuring “tricks”, mainly just riders getting air off of track jumps (or potentially while riding in and around skate and bike parks…


I really loved that the set also included female riders…


Card #15, Christy Anderson riding for Hutch

…well, one female rider.  Still though, I’m glad they included Christy Anderson.


Clockwise from top left: R. L. Osborn, The Redline Factory Team, D. D. Leone, the Redline Pro-Styler, and the Redline Carrera II.

Going back to the idea that each one of these cards was a paid advertisement from the bike companies, again, it would explain why there were 7 cards for a larger company like the Redline team, yet only 1 for Hyper (above) and 2 for Torker (below).  I’d never even heard of those brands until I got my hands on this set of cards a few years ago…


Torker Magnum 200 & the Torker 280


Clockwise from top left: Michael Joseph Buff, Monte Gray, Tim Judge, The Hutch Pro Star Complete, & Brian Deam

It seems like most of the teams topped out at 7 cards, like Hutch,  Redline (both above), and Schwinn (below), but Team Murray potentially had a much larger budget as they feature on 11 of the cards in this set…


Clockwise from top left: Jeff Botema, Murray Factory Team, Keith Gaynor, the Team Murray 330, Jeff Ruminer


Clockwise from top left: Rusty Cable, Anthony Sewell, Mike Horton, the Team Murray X20FS III, and Scott Clark


Clockwise from top left: Sam Arellano, Stu Thomsen, the Team Murray X20r, and the Schwinn Predator P2600

Yet, there are also inconsistencies where some of the riders go unnamed on the cards as is the case for Schwinn.  All three pictures below appear to be of the same rider, but he isn’t named on the cards and his number plate on the bike is always hidden.  If these were all paid advertisements, Schwinn seemed to have wasted some real estate on these three cards…


Bikes, from left to right: Schwinn Predator P2000, Predator Team edition, and the Schwinn Sting Frameset

One of the brands that I was really happy to see in this set is Kuwahara, the company responsible for all the bikes in the film E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.  In fact the first card in this article is the Kuwahara Laser Lite, Elliots bike in the film and the card features a very familiar backdrop…


Clockwise from top left: Deric Garcia, Dick Miller, Gary Ellis (top right & bottom)


Clockwise from top left: Brent Romero, Brent Romero (again), Doug Davis, Doug Davis (again), the Diamond Back Turbo, and the Diamond Back Formula One


From left to right: Andrew Soule, Mike King, Rodney Cooper, and John Paint


Clockwise from top left: Don Johle. Raleigh Logo, George Antill, Ron House, and Sam Arellano

If you enjoyed taking a look at this set and you love 80s era BMX, then take a moment and check out the set of cards I made for the 1986 Bill Allen movie Rad as there’s a good chance you’ll dig those too!

These Should Exist: The Rad Edition

I’ve been having a ton of fun creating digital trading cards recently.  I think this project sort of falls inside the dead center of my Venn diagram that is a mix of being creative, learning to hone my Photoshop skills, and geeking out about all the 80s stuff that I love.  With that in mind I’ve had a hard time focusing on much else for the past few weeks and decided I might as well dive into creating another set of cards while I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  So over the past week I tackled another of my all time favorite films which also just happens to be criminally under-merchandused, the 1986 BMX-ploitation flick Rad!

Rad Wrapper

For anyone that’s been reading this site for any length of time or listened to the podcast I co-host, The Cult Film Club, it should be pretty clear just how much I love this flick. I must have rented this flick from the local mom & pop video store 2.6 million times as a kid and I was always bummed that it never caught on with audiences in the theater the way that it did on VHS and on cable.  Though this isn’t the sort of film that made sense to spawn a toy line, I always felt that the movie would have been perfect for adapting into one of those youth novelizations or, well, a trading card set…


Rad_1_Cru_combo     Rad_2_Cru_Cant_combo

Rad_4_Bart_Taylor_combo     Rad_5_hanging_out_Combo

It’s weird, when I tackled this set I thought it was going to be a cake walk in terms of picking what scenes and characters to include on the cards.  I mean I love the crap out of this film.  But that actually became a problem because after I started compiling a list it was quickly topping out at one hundred cards.  Creating that many cards would have taken forever and I knew that I had to draw a line at around 30 cards.


Rad_7_SgtSmith_Combo     Rad_10_DukeBest_combo

Rad_8_Wesley_combo     Rad_9_Mopheadboy_combo

Narrowing the list down was tough.  Sure, there were a bunch of cards I wanted to make that highlighted some of my favorite lines (“The only thing I’m good at is riding THIS bike!”, “Let’s Walk this sucker”, or “Gnarly!”), but when I was limiting myself to 30 these were some of the first to go.  I also wanted to include at least one card for ever major pro BMX rider featured in the film, but that would have been half the set right there.  So I ended up making sure that I at least included cards for the two main stunt doubles, Martin Aparijo and Eddie Fiola.



Rad_11_pegride_combo     Rad_15_qualifier_combo

Rad_13_wannadance_combo Rad_14_bikedance_combo

I also wanted to include cards for all the awesome bands and musicians on the soundtrack, I mean what is this movie without the sweet dulcet tones of John Farnham or Sparks?  Again, these had to go…


Rad_16_asssliding_combo     Rad_27_Timmer_combo

Rad_28_radracing_combo     Rad_29_bestbuds_combo


There was also an issue trying to source enough interesting radical facts for the card-backs.  Again, since this movie never got the DVD treatment there were never any making-of documentaries shot, no director commentaries, etc.  There were a handful of BMX magazine articles and the official/unofficial commentary track that Bill Allen, Bart Connors, Sam Bernard, Martin Aparijo, Eddie Fiola, and Jose Yanez recorded last year that were invaluable for compiling the facts that made it onto the card backs.


Rad_18_Cru_Bart_combo     Rad_19_Cru_360_flip_combo

Rad_20_Hulk_Hogan_combo     Rad_21_Bart_takesout_Rod_combo


All in all, I’m really happy with how the set turned out and I can add it to the list of digital trading cards that I can only dream about being real, sitting in binders between my Goonies and Little Shop of Horrors cards…

Rad_25_mikemiranda_combo     Rad_30_bicycleboogie_combo


So, something pretty damn RAD happened…

I’ve been in full on Rad mode lately, I know, so bear with me for one more piece of excitement I’d like to share.  After recording the latest episode of the Cult Film Club about the flick, Pax, Jaime and I got a chance to interview the one and only Cru Jones himself, Mr. Bill Allen!  I mean, HOLY CRAP! This is the first time I reached out to one of my childhood heroes and for a month I was chewing off my nails.  I was pretty damn worried the interview was going to devolve into the Chris Farley show.  But I pulled myself together, put on an appropriate shirt and this past Tuesday night I sat down and talked with Mr. Allen for about an hour…

Co-Host Shawn Rad

If you want to listen to us talk about the movie Rad, Bill’s penchant for extreme hobbies, his music career, and what it’s like to be associated with a cult classic film and to have inspired countless athletes and filmmakers, then head on over to the Cult Film Club and download episode 17!  We also dig into his new memoir, My Rad Career, which highlights his 30 years spent in front of and behind the cameras. It was an honor and an amazing pleasure to chat with one of our film heroes and we hope you enjoy the conversation. So without further to do, queue up Send Me An Angel, put on your sequined shirts, and jump on your bike as we talk to a supremely Rad dude!  You can also listen to it by clicking, or right-clicking & downloading it here!

Lastly, I woke up this morning to find my review of Bill’s memoir featured on his website!  Too cool.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go reenact the BMX dance sequence from Rad to celebrate…

Branded on Bill Allens Site

Alright Dudes! Let’s walk this sucker!

This month it was my turn to pick the movie that the Cult Film Club covered and I decided it was high time that Paxton, Jaime and I dug into one of my favorite 80s flicks the 1986 BMX classic RAD!


Starring Bill Allen, Talia Shire, Lori Loughlin, Bart Connors, Jack Weston and Ray Walston, the film was directed by the legendary Hal Needham (Smokey & The Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Megaforce.) For those who haven’t seen it (correct this NOW) the movie centers on BMX junkie Cru Jones who only wants to get radical on his bike with friends Becky & Luke, challenge the local cop to races in a lumber yard, and get his morning paper route finished by 7:15am. All his mom wants is for him to go to take his SATs and get into college. But when Duke Best, head of the Mongoose bicycle company, partners with the local businesses to bring a professional BMX track called Helltrack to Cochrane, Cru sees and opportunity to do what he does best, which is riding his bike. But before he can race, Cru has to prove that he can qualify, which is easier said than done when Best, along with his stuck up hot shot riders Bart Taylor and Rod & Rex, the Reynolds Twins, keep putting up barriers he has to hurdle. Along the way he learns who his true friends are, as well as winning the heart of beautiful BMX champion Christian, but does he have enough thunder in his heart to beat Helltrack?

We talk about our favorite scenes, amazeballs dance sequences, the awesome soundtrack, and what makes this film still work after almost 30 years.  So if you’re curious to hear me and my friends talk about this awesome flick, break out a bowl of Kix and head on over to the Cult Film Club and listen to episode 16.  You can also listen to the discussion by clicking, or right clicking and saving here!

CFC FB Cover Photo

Also, I just want to remind folks again that the star of Rad, Mr. Bill Allen, has just released his memoir detailing his 30 years in Hollywood in his book My RAD Career which you can purchase directly from him in both paperback and special signed editions.  If you pick up a copy it helps both Mr. Allen and will help keep the lights on here at Branded.  Also, tell him Shawn from Branded sent ya!

Bill Allen Memoir

This book is, well, RAD!

4461391534_02cce86892_oIn 1986 my family had yet to own a VCR and every weekend we’d trek out to the little mom & pop video rental store next to the Goodings on Red Bud road in Castleberry Florida and we’d rent a machine and each pick out a title to take home. Invariably I would always end up with the same two VHS tapes, one in either hand, trying to decide what flick I was going to re-watch for the hundredth time. In my left hand was Red Dawn, a film I could endlessly watch for C. Thomas Howell alone, and in my right was always Rad. 4 out of 5 times I would walk out of the store with the copy of Rad. I can’t explain exactly why I was drawn to the film so much, but at 10 years-old Rad spoke to me like no other film. I mean the box art alone was always enough to get me excited with the crazy paint-splash font on the logo, to the wild mix of purples, reds, and hot pink that was impossible for the eye to pass up when scanning the video shelves.

RAD VHSI’d usually wait until Saturday morning to watch the flick, right after the cartoon blocks and I’d consumed my weight in Capt’n Crunch. Then I slip it in the hulking rented VCR with the top-loading eject door and wait for those familiar opening keyboard notes and guitar strums from John Farnham’s “Break the Ice” to start up. Then it was and hour and a half of BMX bliss, after which I’d frantically run out of the house, grab my bike and attempt to recreate the freestyle bike tricks in the opening and closing credits (which was a lot harder than it looked not only because I was clumsy, but because I didn’t have a true BMX bike at the time so my handlebars and front wheel could only rotate so far without getting tangled in the handbrake cords.) I imagined I was Cru Jones as I tooled around the neighborhood on my red and white Huffy, racing imaginary cops on motorcycles and speeding down the huge hill in my subdivision as if it was my last shot to qualify for Helltrack.

Fast forward 28 years and I’m still enraptured with the movie Rad, still constantly stick it in the DVD player (I have a cherished bootleg copy that literally stopped playing a couple months back to my shock and horror), and I still want to be Cru Jones on some level. Is Rad the best movie of the 80s? No. Is it one of my personal favorites regardless of the visible goofs and some questionable acting (I’m looking at you Bart Connor – just kidding, well, kind of)? Yeah, yeah it is. One of the things I’ve tried to do since I got online in the late 90s/early 2000s was to check in on the cast members, in particular Bill Allen who played Christopher “Cru-sier” Jones in the flick. At some point about 6-7 years ago I stumbled upon his personal website, which at the time was the one place besides all the bootleggers on ebay that was keeping the flame of Rad lit. So imagine my surprise this past month when I saw that he was getting ready to release his memoir titled My Rad Career. Floored doesn’t begin to describe how excited that bit of news made me, and I was (or imagine I was) one of the first in line to order a copy in mid-May.

Bill Allen MemoirAs soon as I got it in the mail I began to devour it.  It’s a quick and dirty recounting of Mr. Allen’s 30 year career in and outside of Hollywood.  It touches on everything from his time spent guesting on TV from sitcoms like Family Ties to series like Amazing Stories, to the films he’s worked on or starred in like his first role in And They’re Off (where he met a young George Clooney also doing his first film.)  The book features some interesting and hilarious anecdotes about Hollywood’s behind the scenes, including Clooney’s penchant for practical jokes, what Brad Pitt was like when he was first starting out, and the grueling and life-threatening truth behind the whirlwind military training the actors received when preparing for the film Born on the Fourth of July.  The chapters about his friendship with Brandon Lee leading up to Lee’s accidental death on the set of The Crow are especially touching and had me in tears.

My favorite aspects of the memoir center on his time spent filming Rad.  I’ve read a lot about the flick over the years but there were aspects of the film that I never realized like the fact that Bart Connor was in pretty bad shape and in such pain after his gold medal winning Olympic outings that he could barely walk let alone dance very well.  It speaks to why he tended to be shot from the waist up in the film or sitting.  Little details like this really enhance the viewing experience for me as it puts the movie in a whole new context and almost lets me view it with fresh eyes.  So if you were ever curious what it was like to make out with Lori Loughlin, the down side of ass-sliding, or what it was like working with Hal Needham and a bunch of world class BMX riders (like Eddie Fiola, Jose Yanez. and Martin Aparijo), this book is a must read.

Allen’s writing style is very conversational which makes the book a very easy and satisfying experience, and makes it feel like he’s sitting in a recliner across from you sharing his time in the spotlight.  For a life-long fan of Rad like myself, I was very grateful to get a chance to read about Bill Allen and his adventures from the man himself.

You can order your copy of My Rad Career directly from Mr. Allen at his site.