Twenty eight years ago, I was interviewed at a rodeo in Redding, California, together with an Oklahoma cowboy and a bull named’Red Rock.’ That would be that young man’s last interview as he died at his next rodeo in Cheyenne Wyoming on July 30, 1989. His name was Lane Frost.
Afterwards, a film was made about his life and rodeo career called’8 Seconds.” In it, Luke Perry played the young athlete and there was even an appearance in it by that bull known as’Red Rock.’
News of the accident in Cheyenne spread fast. I was lined up at a rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming, to ride the”circle 8″ which is when all the contestants of a rodeo ride out for the audience before the performances begin. Someone said, “Lane’s down at Cheyenne.”
By the time we completed the opening pattern, we heard that Lane was dead. Lane Frost was a friend to many in the rodeo world. In actuality, his memorial service was held in an Oklahoma church which held 1200 and close to 3500 showed up to say goodbye. His parents picked his final resting place at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, Oklahoma right next to where his friend Freckles Brown was laid to rest years earlier.
The movie”8 Seconds” attempted to do justice to his life but it didn’t touch how deep the friendship between him and Tuff Hedeman was. I was with Tuff shortly after Lane’s death at another rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa. He showed up, ready to ride and do the press tour. Tuff and I had been auctioned off at a benefit for some charity. We both had to dance with someone who had bid on us. “How are you here?” I heard some businessman had flown him and Lane’s saddle to his dad after the bullrider’s death. He was barely there and racked with grief, but that’s how cowboys roll.
On this fateful day in Cheyenne, after much rain, Lane mounted a bull known as’Takin’ Care of Business.’ The cowboys had their own name for this. They tagged the creature’Bad to the Bone.’ Following the ride, Lane dismounted. That’s when the bull turned around and rammed him.
He died in the stadium although doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive him for hours at the hospital. Tuff was finally allowed to see his newly deceased friend after what”seemed like forever” in the waiting room. Three days later, he served as one of his pallbearers.
Today, there is a statue of Lane in the Cheyenne stadium where he lost his life doing what he loved to do. The cemetery where he’s buried has constant traffic. Many in the rodeo world and beyond were affected by this young man’s departure and have memorialized him by naming their sons after this bullriding hero. A website posts pictures of the multitude of namesake cowkids called’Lane Frost, Remembrances of 50 years, 25 of them gone, but not forgotten.”
Rest in peace Lane. It was an honor working with you.