Sonny Barger - founding member of the Hells Angels - has died aged 83

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Sonny Barger, a founding member of the legendary Hells Angels motorcycle club, has died at the age of 83.

In a post shared to Barger's official Facebook page on Thursday (June 30), a statement read: "If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing.

"I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club."

size-large wp-image-1263160212
Credit: DPA picture alliance archive / Alamy

The statement continued: "Although I’ve had a public persona for decades, I’ve mostly enjoyed special time with my club brothers, my family, and close friends.

"Please know that I passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer.

"But also know that in the end, I was surrounded by what really matters: My wife, Zorana, as well as my loved ones.

"Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor."

size-large wp-image-1263160213
Credit: DPA picture alliance / Alamy

TMZ reports that Barger was born in Modesto, California, in 1938.

After his mother walked out when Barger was just four months old, Sonny - birth name Ralph Hubert Barger - was raised by his alcoholic father.

Following repeat suspensions from school for fighting, Barger dropped out when he was in the tenth grade.

He was also booted from the military after officials discovered he had forced his birth certificate in order to enlist at just 16 years old.

After joining a number of biker gangs, Barger would go on to become a founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1957. (Otto Friedli is reported at the founder of the original Hells Angels Motorcycle Club after originating the group in Fontana back in 1948.)

Sonny would become National President of the club in 1958 - subsequently moving the group's headquarters to Oakland.

The club has a checkered history with the law, with Barger being imprisoned in 1973 for possession of narcotics and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer and subsequently had to have his vocal chords removed. This led to Barger becoming a public advocate against smoking, with the biker becoming known for the message: "Want to be a rebel? Don't smoke as the rest of the world."

Despite the group being synonymous for riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, Barger revealed in an interview that he's not their bigger fan, describing them as "junk".

"If I wasn't a Hell's Angel I wouldn't ride one," he said. "We made Harley-Davidson. I don't care what anybody says. In the 50s and 60s they wouldn't even let us in Harley-Davidson dealerships, 'cause we stripped them down and chopped them. In the 70s they started taking pictures of our bikes and building theirs like that. And now every yuppie in the world is driving one."

Our thoughts go out to Barger's family and loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: DPA picture alliance / Alamy

Sonny Barger - founding member of the Hells Angels - has died aged 83

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Sonny Barger, a founding member of the legendary Hells Angels motorcycle club, has died at the age of 83.

In a post shared to Barger's official Facebook page on Thursday (June 30), a statement read: "If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing.

"I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club."

size-large wp-image-1263160212
Credit: DPA picture alliance archive / Alamy

The statement continued: "Although I’ve had a public persona for decades, I’ve mostly enjoyed special time with my club brothers, my family, and close friends.

"Please know that I passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer.

"But also know that in the end, I was surrounded by what really matters: My wife, Zorana, as well as my loved ones.

"Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor."

size-large wp-image-1263160213
Credit: DPA picture alliance / Alamy

TMZ reports that Barger was born in Modesto, California, in 1938.

After his mother walked out when Barger was just four months old, Sonny - birth name Ralph Hubert Barger - was raised by his alcoholic father.

Following repeat suspensions from school for fighting, Barger dropped out when he was in the tenth grade.

He was also booted from the military after officials discovered he had forced his birth certificate in order to enlist at just 16 years old.

After joining a number of biker gangs, Barger would go on to become a founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1957. (Otto Friedli is reported at the founder of the original Hells Angels Motorcycle Club after originating the group in Fontana back in 1948.)

Sonny would become National President of the club in 1958 - subsequently moving the group's headquarters to Oakland.

The club has a checkered history with the law, with Barger being imprisoned in 1973 for possession of narcotics and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer and subsequently had to have his vocal chords removed. This led to Barger becoming a public advocate against smoking, with the biker becoming known for the message: "Want to be a rebel? Don't smoke as the rest of the world."

Despite the group being synonymous for riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, Barger revealed in an interview that he's not their bigger fan, describing them as "junk".

"If I wasn't a Hell's Angel I wouldn't ride one," he said. "We made Harley-Davidson. I don't care what anybody says. In the 50s and 60s they wouldn't even let us in Harley-Davidson dealerships, 'cause we stripped them down and chopped them. In the 70s they started taking pictures of our bikes and building theirs like that. And now every yuppie in the world is driving one."

Our thoughts go out to Barger's family and loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: DPA picture alliance / Alamy