It all started back in 2011 with the Great British Invasion—moto-style. Eccentric Harley-Davidson aficionado Daryl Clark had the idea to bring together an eclectic group of individuals for an epic motorcycle ride, combining rock ’n’ roll and fund-raising into the mix. The classic place for all this had to be the USA.
Daryl is the type of guy who makes things happen, and his love of motorcycles is equaled only by his love of music. Danny Bowes and Luke Morely, old buddies from the ’90s British hard rock band Thunder, were bamboozled into joining the convoy of Harleys and playing their music live at stopovers on the ride. Saying no to Daryl never seems to pan out as an option, so with a tongue-in-cheek play on the TV series Sons of Anarchy, the mock biker gang Sons of Royalty (SOR) was born.
Established in 2008, the official voluntary committee Childline Rocks exists to raise funds to support the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Childline service. Childline Rocks enhances the work of the NSPCC’s Childline by raising money through gigs, auctions, special events, and more.
Children can contact UK-based Childline for information and support if they feel worried, scared, stressed, or just want to talk to someone about anything—no problem is too big or too small. The Childline volunteer service gives kids an essential, non-judgmental safety line of communication. The mission of Childline Rocks is to support this work and drive positive change through the power of rock entertainment.
Following some brainstorming, Daryl’s Sons of Royalty had legs, or should I say wheels, which ramped up the aid. Over the years, much fun has been had and much funding raised for the initiative.
In character with his barmy sense of humor, Daryl has appointed Heads of Chapters—Scott Casey of The Rolling Barrage is the Canadian Ambassador, Stephen Marcus (best known as Nick the Greek from the classic Guy Ritchie movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) is El Presidenté of the California Chapter, newly appointed having uprooted from London to live in Hollywood.
Daryl appointed artist Andrew Hewkin as Cultural Attaché. Andrew doesn’t seem to have a clue about what his appointment involves, but he shares Daryl’s passion for motorcycles and is naturally very cultural in a most artistic way.
Excluding COVID years, Sons of Royalty have ridden a different route across the USA every year since the inaugural 2011 event. The bringing together of rock artists, screen legends, military types, celebrity chefs, journalists, sexy motorcyclists, and Joe Blow-John Doe riders and their partners, benefiting Childline by raising nearly U$400,000 to date.
The death of a child is devastating—out of sync with the natural order of things, and unimaginable for most of us. In early 2022, Daryl’s adult son Jake, passed away suddenly. Daryl found solace in reading Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by the late Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. After the deaths of his daughter and wife, Peart made a 55,000-mile ride across North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back home. It was cathartic for him, and likewise the read was subsequently cathartic for Daryl. That, combined with his intense zest for living, brought Daryl back into planning ahead once more. Recently, as COVID-related travel restrictions lifted, Sons of Royalty plans were made and actioned.
Although the rides take place in America, it’s not an all-Brits jolly. The 10th annual ride culminated with a big welcome from The Blues Foundation President and CEO, Barbara Newman, and actor Morgan Freeman singing at the finale party at his Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
“Over the last ten years, we’ve had some amazing adventures in some incredible places—all the Rocky Mountain states, from British Columbia and Alberta in Canada down into the USA, passing like men and women possessed through Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and that’s just off the top of my head!” said Thunder guitarist and lyricist Luke Morley. “The stunning scenery flashing by has definitely made for some unforgettable moments and memories, but when I look back at the whole SOR experience—and it is an experience, trust me—the element that makes it ‘really special,’ as Daryl would say, is, without doubt, the people that take part.”
The 2022 ride started late October in Phoenix, with the troops rallying as it became clear to Daryl’s wife Tamara that he was not a well man. Ultimate Motorcycling President Arthur Coldwells and I made our way to Tucson. We found Daryl just out of ICU, astoundingly and as ever, cheerful, as he enthused about his just-completed solo ride from Merritt, British Columbia, to Phoenix.
From his hospital bed, Daryl described the pleasure derived from riding his new Harley-Davidson Road King that he had upgraded with a Screamin’ Eagle Milwaukee-Eight 131 Crate Engine. Daryl’s sense of achievement was palpable as he talked us through the stunning scenery, gorgeous open roads, and freedom of his ride, like a young boy.
At this stage, we guess Daryl must have known the health issue was serious, although he never really let on, remaining upbeat and optimistic as ever. The doctors advised he get to see his specialist ASAP. So, while the posse of SOR riders hit the American highways as planned for the 2022 adventure, Daryl and Tamara made their way back to Blighty. Sadly it was terminal. Within days, Daryl lost his battle for life, and we lost one of the most passionate of people you might ever wish to meet.
The veritable bombardment of Brits heading to the States for the Sons of Royalty annual pilgrimage will continue as pledged by Jason “Woody” Woodcock. Even on Daryl’s final day, he talked about his vision for Sons of Royalty continuing for years ahead.
Through one man’s hare-brained idea, many kids are being helped. Moto-friends are relishing adventure and experiencing life in a way they probably would never have done, without Lord Wolff Daryl haranguing them into doing it now instead of ‘sometime’. With his insistent badgering and skills, Daryl has and continues to influence, change lives, and create a better world.
Motorcycle guys (and here I include girls, riders, passengers, and unicorns) will always pull together—it’s our very nature. Bonding and camaraderie are deep-felt because that’s what two-wheel lovers are like, and you know that because you are reading this.
Next year will be business as usual for Sons of Royalty, with the adventure taking you along the Appalachian Trail with great live music along the way. The ride, scheduled for September 2023, takes in six states—West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia—and follows four waterways: the Potomac River, New River, Tennessee River, and Shenandoah River. You’ll roll through at least three National Parks—Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The ride will also include the famous Tail of the Dragon, which features 318 curves in 11 miles.
“Sometime” can be translated into “I’m not going to get around to this.” Now means now if you want to join a group of friends riding for Childline Rocks.
Here's to Daryl Clark for the looney idea of gathering a bunch of people, from musicians to cooks, for an epic motorcycle ride across the United States every year for a selfless cause. Daryl Clark never forgot the world he lived in, and the world won't forget Daryl Clark.