Peter Starr might best be described as a Renaissance man.
He has done a little bit of everything in his 74 years on the Earth - rock and roll, radio, television, filmmaking and motorcycle racing - and he’s even a 13-year prostate cancer survivor.
But the one constant in Starr’s amazing life has been motorcycles.
The native of Great Britain, now an American citizen, hopped on his first motorcycle at age 16 and the love affair has been ongoing.
Two weeks ago, Starr got the phone call he never expected would come. He was told he would be inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in September.
“I thought I had been overlooked years ago for the honor,” Starr admitted. “I was told years ago that I should be in it, but I’ve never pushed it. I figured they had overlooked me and I never thought anything about it.”
The gregarious Starr, who has palled around with the likes of Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney was left speechless by the call.
Although he knew he was on the list for possible induction to the hall of fame, he never thought it would happen.
But as he said, “Life is full of surprises.”
Starr said words couldn’t describe his joy of joining the hall of fame. The few words he came up with were “awesome” and “brilliant.”
“There is not much else to do inside the motorcycle community that allows me to be recognized beyond this,” Starr said. “The next honor for me would be winning an Oscar.”
Starr said he was ecstatic to join the hall of fame because all of his heroes in the motorcycle community are already members, like Mike Hailwood, Roger DeCoster, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson.
Also being inducted on Sept. 22 in Columbus, Ohio, will be FMF Racing founder Donnie Emler Sr., off-road racing champion Eddie Lojak Sr., world motocross champion and Road 2 Recovery founder Bob Moore, and racer, team owner, and publisher John Ulrich.
“I was inducted into the Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2011 and that is a great honor, but it’s more exciting to be going into a national hall of fame,” Starr said.
The induction honors a career that’s covered the gambit in the world of motorcycling.
His career started as a racer 58 years ago. He then made films and was a stunt rider in Hollywood. Next, he manufactured motorcycles that could be used as camera platforms for the motion picture industry. Currently, he’s a journalist and adventurer.
Starr recently completed a book “Motorcycle Traveler” about riding through 10 countries in the past five years.
“Motorcycles have always been a constant in my adult life,” Starr said. “I’ve been involved in the center of the sport for so long and the riders are amazing athletes. There is a daredevil side of them most people can’t imagine ever doing and that’s why I capture them on film.”
Starr has made numerous films about the motorcycling world.
“People I’ve made films about are my heroes,” Starr said. “They have done things I couldn’t do. I’ve been blessed to be able to make films about them and tell the rest of the world what unique and amazing these people are.”
His most famous film is “Take it to the Limit,” a documentary about motorcycling that premiered in 1980 and has been rediscovered by new audiences more than 30 years later. It’s become a cult classic among motorcycle aficionados.
“It was an aesthetic hit, but it was never as big a hit at the box office because of distribution problems,” Starr said. “It wasn’t until 30 years later that it has become a classic and is getting a lot of publicity and a following.”
Beyond his life with motorcycles, Starr has done a little bit of everything.
In England, he was a DJ and record producer who traveled to the United States during the British Invasion and found a home. During that time, he toured with the Rolling Stones, The Animals and Herman’s Hermits. He also was a host and producer for radio programs that featured rock and roll royalty like McCartney, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.
One of his best adventures was a seven-day trip from California to England as part of a flight crew ferrying a refurbished World War II era B-25 Mitchell bomber. Starr said he wishes he’d had enough money to refit and fly the historic aircraft.
Thirteen years ago, Starr was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Instead of fighting it with surgery, drugs or radiation, he took the non-medical route. He’s been cancer free since then. He even started a Healing Arts Education Foundation.
“My fight with cancer helped me understand it can be addressed in other ways than surgery, drugs or radiation,” Starr said. “It’s 13 years later and I’m still kicking ass and taking names.”
Starr said he is very satisfied with his life.
“I feel totally blessed to have achieved what I achieved and to have done what I’ve done,” he said. “Very few people have had opportunities like I’ve had. You are talking to someone who has a lot of satisfaction in where they are in their life.”