Even in death, Evel Knievel knew how to put on a show.
A crowd of thousands turned out Monday in Butte, Montana, the hometown of the legendary stunt cyclist, who died Nov. 30, at 69.
“He’s forever in flight now. He doesn’t have to come back down,” eulogized Matthew McConaughey, 38, a pal of the daredevil and the host of a Knievel documentary on the History Channel. “He doesn’t have to land.”
Son Robbie Knievel, 45, himself a stunt cyclist who’s emulated his father’s career, recalled childhood hunting and fishing trips with his dad, and announced, “I am not the greatest daredevil in the world. I am the son of the greatest daredevil in the world.”
Open Casket and ‘My Way’
As country music and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” was piped over the sound system before the memorial, a line of mourners filed past Evel’s open casket, observing him in his white leather jacket with red and blue trim.
Sunday night, when the body first arrived in the snowy Montana town – Knievel had died in Clearwater, Fla., after years of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes – red, white and blue fireworks lit up the evening sky.
In addition to McConaughey, another famous name to attend the service was former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier, 67, who told the news agency Agence France-Presse that he and Knievel had known each other since 1968 and discovered they had much in common.
“His job and my job were pretty tough jobs,” said Frazier.
Burial was private.