One of the
greatest Harley mechanics alive
Johnny's wall of fenders
Johnny's collection of seats
Wherever you look,
His hair is shaggy, and he wears a welding cap day and night. His clothes are the same summer and winter.
There's a lot of stuff,
Johnny seems to know where everything is.
Newby and his current lady friend Cindy buy and sell parts online, and he also repairs bikes and small engines.
Show Johnny a part off a
no matter how obscure the part,
chances are he can to
tell you what it is and what
model Harley it comes from. Maybe even the year.
<< To Unusual Biker
He’s a familiar face around lower Kentucky, either riding around on his latest bike, or back home, looking for a part for a friend’s bike. His
name is John Newby, but everyone just calls him “Newby”.
Newby was born January 10, 1946, the son of a construction worker and a homemaker.
“Dad moved around a lot," he recalled, "usually wherever there was work.”
It was during the end of his high school years that Newby found his dream machine – an old Indian motorcycle.
“It seemed to break down on the way to school or home every day. But it got me through most of the next year.”
In 1962, his senior year Newby found a Harley-Davidson pan-head for $35.00, but before his father could purchase it for him, the older Newby fell from the bridge he was helping to construct. “I really hated that,” Johnny said. “I was looking forward to buying that bike.”
Because of his disability from the fall, Newby’s father had to curtail his high-rise work, so he began teaching welding instead, and returned to Burkesville with his family.
While at a party soon after, Newby, who admitted he’d had a few drinks too many, met what he thought was the woman of his life, and married her within days. She was 15.
“It was a mistake,” he said.
“I worked at a Harley plant for a few months,” he said. “I even met one of the owners.
I had a decent job, and a boa con-strictor to keep me company.”
“My family – the wife, and I, and Termite, traveled over about 48 states on my bike, my ’56 pan-head.; me driving, and them in the side car.“
(Termite is Newby’s daughter, Anna P. Newby.)
Married life didn’t agree with Newby, and he divorced in 1972. But to the surprise of many, he later remarried the same woman. They divorced for the second time in 1992.
Newby bought a huge building in the 1980’s, and was using it for welding. But after a few years, he grew discontented, and decided to follow the trail he preferred: Motorcycles.
He began buying and repairing them, and soon his rafters were filled with cycles of every make and design, from early Indians to a completey re-stored bike used in WW II..
Grandson Gage, 7, is a nearly constant companion, as is ‘Lucky Larry’, who comes by almost every day to do small chores. “I keep a stalk of bologna in the refrigerator for him," Johnny says. "He’s with my old lady now.”
made his shop sign out of
sprockets and gears.
Johnny Newby's shop
Newby lives in one corner of his building, aptly named “Newby’s”, in Burkesville, Kentucky, near the Tennessee line.
A hand-lettered shop sign
warns customers "All work cash except approven credit"
It's not unusual for other
mechanics to call
stumped. Not that Johnny
brags about it. But anyone
who knows him can tell you: Johnny Newby really knows his stuff.
Harley handlebars adorn
Motorcycles are everywhere
Today Newby still lives in his building, sleeping in an old bed near the door.
Harley parts festoon a tree
outside his shop.
To Unusual People p. 2 >>