Hell’s Angels – The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, Harper, 2001.
Sonny Barger, born 1938, was a founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels in 1957. He is the author of four books: Hell’s Angels – The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, Freedom: Credos from the Road, Dead in 5 Heartbeats, and 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet.
In 1988 he served four years in a federal prison for conspiring to blow up a rival cycle gang’s clubhouse. He served his time in an Arizona prison. He eventually moved to Arizona and became an active member in a Phoenix chapter (Cave Creek) of his celebrated cycle club. True to his outlaw persona, he has supposedly been arrested over twenty times in his life.
In his autobiographical work (Hell’s Angels – The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club) Barger writes how the club started and how he worked into it.
He details the strange offering of the services of the Hell’s Angels to LBJ in the 1960s as a “crack group of trained guerrillas that could demoralize the Viet Cong” when used in behind-the-line duty in Vietnam.
On journalist Hunter Thompson, who wrote a 1966 book on the Angels (Hell’s Angels – A Strange and Terrible Saga, Random House), “Since I liked the way he wrote, the Oakland and Frisco chapters let Hunter hangout with the club for a price – two kegs of beer. But as time went by Hunter turned out to be a real weenie and stone ____ coward . . . he was a total fake . . . as at most Angels gatherings, a fight was brewing with the cops, so Hunter jumped into the trunk of his car, pulled down the hatch, and hid. I never had too much more to say to him after that . . . when his time came, he got it. He got beat up by the Hell’s Angels.” On Hunter’s Angels book: “It’s junk.”
On Ken Kesey and the Pranksters: “This was where I first got to know Neal Cassady. I loved Cassady, the only guy I ever met who could hold a conversation with five people simultaneously and not miss a beat. He was wired. I still believed he committed suicide down in Mexico with reds. Eventually, Kesey turned the Pranksters over to someone named Babs, making him the top honcho. Neal probably killed himself in a fit of depression.”
On the disastrous 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont: “A big fat girl was trying to get up on the stage. She was topless and probably very ___ on drugs. Some of the angels tried to stop her, and it looked to me like they were trying to get her off stage without hurting her. Keith Richards leaned over to me and said, “Man, I’m sure it doesn’t take three or four great big Hell’s Angels to get a bird off the stage.’ I just walked over to the edge of the stage and kicked her in the head. ‘How’s that?’ . . . Richards walked over to me after finishing a song and told me the band wasn’t going to play anymore until we stopped the violence. . . I stood next to him and stuck my pistol into his side and told him to start playing his guitar or he was dead. He played like a _____.”
• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (October 2, 2001)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0060937548
• ISBN-13: 978-0060937546
• Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
Library Journal: “In this most intriguing and insightful look into the highly controversial, five-decade-old Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC), Barger chronicles the formation, history, and colorful events that have led to the mystique and outlaw image of this free-thinking organization. In 1957, Barger (a technical consultant on several biker films, including Hell’s Angels on Wheels and Hell’s Angels ’69) formed the Oakland chapter, which would become the foundation and serve as headquarters for the entire club. . . “
Book List: “Barger, king of the chopper pilots, road variety, is an American icon, and his life story is a history of the biker lifestyle. As president of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels, he has seen and survived hassles with the police, peaceniks, and the Rolling Stones, with their ‘prissy clothes and makeup’ –all of which he recounts. He notes fine points, such as the fact that it was Emmett Grogan, of the radical egalitarian Diggers, who suggested that the Angels work security at the Stones’ ill-fated free show at Altamont, California. He nonchalantly admits to criminal acts, such as pulling a gun on Keith Richards onstage. . . “
Barger Web site: http://sonnybarger.com/index3.html
Barger Biographical material: http://www.doney.net/aroundaz/celebrity/barger_sonny.htm