Sonny Barger, founder of the first American group of “Hells Angels”, the association of bikers with a sulphurous reputation, died at the age of 83, according to a press release on June 30, on his official Facebook account.
Blue jeans and leather jacket. For decades, Sonny Barger has been the public figure of these clans of “bikers”, representing an emblematic part of the counterculture of the United States. He passed away at the age of 83.
“Know that I died peacefully after a brief battle with cancer,” said the statement, written in the first person on his Facebook account. “I had a long and beautiful life filled with adventures. And I had the privilege of being part of an extraordinary club.
Stocky, tattooed, muscular, both brawler and braggart, actor or bandit depending on the circumstances, Sonny Barger was a man of all excesses, from alcohol to hard drugs. His varied run-ins with the law have earned him years behind bars, a dark and rebellious face to contrast with his entrepreneurial skills.
Born in 1938 in Modesto, California, this former mechanic with a troubled childhood created in 1957 the Hells Angels chapter of Oakland, in the suburbs of San Francisco. The place will become the headquarters of this organization halfway between white fraternity and gang.
Moving in roaring bands sometimes referred to as “hordes”, long hair flying in the wind, sniffing Harley-Davidsons and custom choppers with high handlebars, the Hells Angels aroused fear wherever they went from the start.
Many other chapters will open elsewhere in America and on all the other continents, bringing together thousands of members. A success driven by Sonny Barger, ardent promoter of the brand and its logo displayed on products ranging from T-shirts to sunglasses.
Officiating as a consultant on film sets of “bikers”, the Californian, married four times, has also written novels and a spicy autobiography that has become a bestseller.
Among the many anecdotes, Sonny Barger says he was present in 1969 at the famous Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont festival, where the Hells Angels had been recruited to provide security.
Meredith Hunter, a bystander who had brandished a handgun there, was fatally stabbed by a Hells Angel, a scene appearing in the famous documentary “Gimme Shelter”.