kellyf131: July 30, 1989—the day Lane Frost died at The Daddy in Cheyenne at 25—is a rare day in rodeo we’d all love to forget.
Lane had it all. He was talented, handsome, sincerely nice and gifted with people. He was so full of life and had so much more to do. With every passing year, we all wonder what Lane would be up to today.
Part of what amazes his family and friends the most is how legendary and popular Lane has remained. He’s not just never been forgotten. He’s unforgettable. To this day, when a cowboy kid (born long after Lane died) finds out any of us knew Lane, he’ll sit mesmerized for hours, asking about every detail of that smile and style this world will never get enough of. That’s leaving a lasting impression.
I got to know Lane and his best friend and fellow world champion bull rider Tuff Hedeman in 1987, back when the rodeo season ran the calendar year and I took my first full-time job out of college writing cowboy stories for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Lane had a way of making you feel like family about five minutes in, and I have fond memories of sharing rental-car rides in rodeo towns like Reno with them that year.
I had the privilege of stepping out onto the Thomas & Mack Center dirt for Lane’s world championship interview seconds after he clinched the gold buckle at that year’s NFR in Las Vegas. I love looking back on that night, because to use one of Lane’s favorite phrases, he was “plumb tickled” and truly happy. And we were all so happy for him.
Our PRCA stock contractor friend John Growney got the renowned seven-ride Champions Challenge match on in 1988, between his and Don Kish’s previously retired and unridden in his 309-ride career 1987 World Champion Bull Red Rock, and 1987 World Champion Bull Rider Lane. It was a simple yet brilliant concept that caught fire even with the mainstream media, and Lane called me like clockwork before and after every ride…from pay phones.
Red Rock jumped out with the early 2-0 lead, then Lane rallied and they were even at 3-3 going into the final Champions Challenge showdown on July 25 in Spanish Fork, Utah. Lane rode Red Rock that night, and made headlines in places rodeo had never been before.
That next 1989 season had some injury-related ups and downs for Lane. But he always found a way to ride and win his way out of the occasional slumps every cowboy must face.
We were all laughing back behind the bucking chutes before the rodeo that fateful day on July 30, 1989. Our late friend George Michael was interviewing Lane and Tuff for his George Michael Sports Machine Show on NBC, and Lane was slapping his leg and laughing up a storm.
The silver dental apparatus holding his teeth in tight after they were loosened in a bull riding wreck not long before didn’t stop Lane from lighting up that dark and dreary, black-clouded day at The Daddy with his Hollywood-handsome smile.
I was running back and forth between the timed-event end and the bucking chutes, interviewing each event’s champion as short-round Sunday in Cheyenne unfolded. I naturally stopped taking notes to watch Lane’s ride, and it was a great one on Bad Company Rodeo’s Takin’ Care of Business. Lane wasn’t known for pretty dismounts, so his landing was not unusual.
The bull took a poke at Lane with a horn on the way by, but the give in that muddy arena seemed a good enough shock absorber. And we’d all seen Lane walk away from much worse looking wrecks.
What made me get out of a walk was when he got to his feet and waved for Tuff to come help him before falling back down. Even Tuff revered Lane’s toughness. I took off running, sick that it looked like Lane would likely return to the injured reserve.
When I’d almost reached the medic tent behind the bucking chutes, where I figured they’d taken Lane, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of another bull rider, Abe Morris, sobbing with his head against a fencepost. I stopped and put my hand on his back. “They say Lane didn’t make it,” he managed.
I whirled around in time to see Tuff jump in by Lane’s side just before they slammed that ambulance door. I ran to my truck and headed for the hospital. I was met in the hospital parking lot by Tom Reeves, a South Dakota saddle bronc rider who years later would win the world and be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Like that bull rider leaned up against that fencepost, he, too, was crying when he pulled me in tight for a hug.
I was still running on adrenaline and denial. What finally stopped me was the sight of Cody Lambert stumbling and staggering out the front steps of that hospital on the brink of collapse.
Tuff stayed with Lane while they unplugged all the tubes and machines used to try and pull off a medical miracle. He gave Lane a hug and a kiss on the forehead, told him he loved him and said, “See ya.”
Tuff then had the terrible task of calling Lane’s folks, Clyde and Elsie in Lane, Oklahoma, before he and Cody flew Lane back home one last time.
Tuff knew the situation was serious from that first wave for help. “Lane had the kind of toughness that if he had two broken legs he’d have walked out of that arena,” Tuff said. “His pain tolerance was very high. When we were in that ambulance, I was hoping and praying. A million things were going through my head, but I knew it was bad. They tried to revive him in the ambulance, and kept going in the emergency room. But Lane was gone before he left the arena.”
Losing Lane changed Tuff. But then knowing him inside that brotherly bond they shared did, too. And all for the better. By the time Lane died, Lane and Tuff, or Tuff and Lane rolled off the tongue easier than either name on its own. No last names needed.
They first met at the 1980 National High School Finals Rodeo in Yakima, Washington, where Lane was the reserve champ. A year later, Lane won the National High School Rodeo Association national bull riding title at the finals in Douglas, Wyoming.
“When we first met in high school, Lane was already the guy,” Tuff said. “It was already Lane Frost this and Lane Frost that. It was the first time I’d ever heard of him, and all the kids were just in awe of him. When I met him I didn’t want to like him, because he was everything any of us wanted to be. He was kicking ass, and everybody wanted to be him. They all wanted to be his friend. I think he could see I wasn’t like that. He was so used to everybody telling him how cute he was, how cool he was and how great he was, and I didn’t do that. I didn’t even want to like him when we first met. But you really couldn’t help but like him.”
Compared to Tuff’s rough edges, Lane was so naturally polite and personable. “Lane changed me more than any single person,” Tuff says. “Just in the way he conducted himself and handled things. He was outgoing and just so nice. He never met a stranger. I, by nature, was pretty shy. And I didn’t have all of his social graces. He was one of those guys who always wanted to do what was right and what you’re supposed to do. He was truly a good guy.”
And cowboy to the core. Elsie tells of Lane sleeping through Clyde’s rodeos, but always rising and shining just in time for the bull riding. “The first time I noticed it was at San Antonio a few months after Lane was born,” Elsie remembers. “When the bull riding started he’d wake up and get wide-eyed. I just thought it was the noise at first. But if I tried to leave during the bull riding, he would cry. And if I turned around to go back in, he would stop.
“There was just something about bull riding that fascinated Lane. As Lane got a little older and was a toddler, I had to get his attention to watch Clyde (who qualified for the first-ever NFR in 1959, among others) in the bareback riding, then he’d go back to playing in the dirt. But when the bull riding started, he’d be glued to that arena with both hands on the fence. It was just amazing.”
By all accounts, including Clyde, Elsie and Tuff’s, bull riding great, family friend and mentor Freckles Brown had a huge influence on Cowboy Lane.
“Lane always looked up to Freckles, and Freckles was the God of bull riders in his era,” Tuff said. “Freckles told Lane, ‘If you’re going to be a champion, you need to be a great champion and represent yourself and your sport in a positive way.’ Lane took that to heart, and he lived it.
“Back in the day, a lot of cowboys were viewed as a bunch of renegade outlaws who blew into town once a year. But Freckles told Lane that in order for rodeo to grow and be popular, he needed to be one of the guys who helped make it better. Lane listened to Freckles.”
He really did. Win, lose or draw, Lane never disappointed a fan. So many parts of the movie “8 Seconds” were fiction—No. 1 being that Clyde was less than impressed by his son and impossible to please. But the part about Lane leaving his traveling partners waiting while he kissed babies and signed autographs was for real. And he didn’t just sign his name. He engaged in complete conversations about the cattle market, hay crop or whatever else people wanted to talk about. He looked those people in the eye, and remembered them the next year. Five minutes, and they were his friends and fans for life.
“Losing Lane changed how I look at everything,” Tuff said. “I never thought that could happen to one of the great ones. When I lost Lane, I thought, ‘Wow. This can all go away tomorrow.’ I’ve never really been one to hold back. I always lived for today. But losing Lane really reinforced that.”
In Lane’s absence, Tuff took the time for every last fan. They’re both Hall of Fame cowboys, but still today Tuff signs every last autograph, looks each person in the eye and goes out of his way to make others’ day. I asked Tuff what he thought Lane would be up to today, besides a lifetime leader of the bull riding pack.
“Lane knew he couldn’t ride forever, and we talked about what we needed to do while we were riding so that when we quit rodeoing we didn’t have to get a job working the stripping chute,” Tuff said. “Lane and the Gaylord family started it all for bull riding in terms of the best guys and the best bulls, when they put together the first Bullnanza at the Lazy E (Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma) in 1989. That event became a tribute to Freckles and Lane Frost after Lane died (Freckles died in 1987, and Lane spent as much time as possible by his side in the hospital). That was one of the first events that revolutionized bull riding, and made it possible for the best guys to ride for a lot more money.
“But Lane’s true love was being outside on a ranch. He loved cattle, and winning was how he was making that happen. He loved ranching and ranch work.”
After Freckles died, Lane leased his place from Freckles’ widow, Edith, and bought their cows. He was making payments on those cattle to get them paid off. When Lane died, Clyde asked Tuff if he wanted to partner on those cows, which he did. Tuff and Lane had also partnered on some yearlings as part of their cowboy diversification plan.
“We sure miss him popping in from the rodeos,” Elsie said. “When he got home he couldn’t get things done fast enough. He’d always have things lined out that needed to be done, and he’d jump up every morning and run to the barn. Clyde was already down there. It was almost like a little tornado came through and hit the house.”
Lane loved Elsie’s spaghetti and chocolate cake, and she loved how he’d dive into that spaghetti cold, straight from the fridge when she had it waiting for him. It’d be interesting to get a head count on the number of kids named Lane, but Tuff and I both proudly stuck that brand on our first-born boys. I guess it doesn’t surprise me to still see Lane’s parents there in their same seats right behind the yellow bucking chutes year after year at the NFR, cheering for everyone else’s kids after the heartbreaking loss of their own son. Still, I marvel at it every time.
“If we walked away from rodeo we were going to lose all our friends and all of Lane’s friends,” Elsie said. “We sure didn’t want to do that. Lane wouldn’t have changed anything about what he did or how he lived. We just couldn’t see not continuing on. Leaving rodeo wasn’t an option for us. We know where Lane is. It still hurts, but that’s such a comfort. Lane was always so tickled when someone asked him for an autograph. He must be blown away that he’s still getting so much attention. I can just see him grinning and rubbing his hands together.”
The legend of Lane Frost lives on. “Lane had a great life,” Tuff said. “He did exactly what he wanted to do. Nobody gets out of here alive, and he made a pretty great exit. He kicked ass and took names at a great rodeo, then he left. Losing Lane is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life. I still think about him every day.”
kellyf131: and so the naming has ended... meet Willy... Lil Willy...Willy got his name tonight.. his first ride here at home since i got him.. my friend rode with me on her mare Jo Jo (Willy is a gelding (no nuts)) and Willy really likes Jo Jo i mean really likes her.. so much he dropped his *willy* and left it down when we rode close to each other lol...Id ride away from her, he'd draw it back up.. ride back over by her and it dropped... lol no bad behavior.. he just really likes her i guess lol.. Willy is a good boy! lol
kellyf131: heres the new stick....he is thin and in a month he will look 100 times better.. but hes a good boy, nothing bothers him
kellyf131: i did a thing.. bought a new pony.. pics tomorrow.. its too dark now... he needs a name...and go
kellyf131: first off I want to say.. i didnt write this..just sharingWhat I'm about to say is going to be unpopular with most but hear me out. First and foremost I don't encourage war on any country unless it is absolutely necessary.
A large part of me supports Russia and their invasion of Ukraine for several reasons. Up until 1991Ukraine was part of Russia and since it's independence it is still under Soviet Social Republic law, not to be confused with USSR law. Both are very similar but SSR is not dictated from the Kremlin. Nobody had an issue when Ukraine was part of Russia in the past yet they do in modern day. Since Ukraine gained independence in '91 it has been known globally as the most corrupt country which has allowed foreign vulchers to swoop in and steal from the Ukraine people. Such vulchers currently include children of Biden, Pelosi and Kerry to name a few. Under Russian control I'm pretty sure those children would be ousted from Ukraine immediately along with other corrupt individuals who are stealing from Ukraine.
All the resources of Ukraine were traded globally before their independence and no doubt their resources will still be traded if Russia takes control. Little by little NATO has threatened to continue their power grab and Ukraine was on their radar...this would cause a large amount of issues globally and for Russia. So why is Putin looked upon as a villain? Would it have something to do with Russia being the largest country without a federalized banking system? Without a federalized banking system Russia is not controlled financially like the US, UK, France, Canada and so forth. It's easy for Americans to look upon Russia as evil since that is what we were forced to believe all our lives. Yet the US invades countries and we paint ourselves to be heroes? Seriously?!?!
The hysteria leading up to and currently regarding the Russian invasion is a clear sign that those who are corrupt were about to lose something valuable to their evil planning. There's more going on that a vast majority has no clue about. Do your research, don't follow like sheep and question EVERYTHING!
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MontanaMatt: There is a few good points here... but then it all goes straight into the shitter when they start taking shots at Democrats. Completely eliminates any need to read any of it. Any good points they may have tried to make are moot.
Just another horseshit conservative hit piece blaming Democrats for all of the world's ills.
It's called projection. Look it up.