Hells Angels leader and legendary outlaw Sonny Barger, dead aged 83 – National

Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the hard-bitten leader of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, has died after a brief battle with cancer. He was 83.

A statement on its official Facebook page on Thursday said: “If you are reading this message you will know that I am gone. I have requested that this note be published immediately after my death.”

Barger’s former attorney, Fritz Clapp, confirmed the death to the Washington Post and said the cause of death was liver cancer.

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Barger was the founder of the first chapter of the Hells Angels in Oakland, California in 1957.

He attained near-mythical status as a rugged hellion and cool, charismatic leader of men who called themselves 1-Percenters—save for the 99 percent of the population that was alive at the time. Many of that 99 percent genuinely feared the Angels, with their menacing looks, rumbling Harley-Davidson motorcycles, violent no-limits lifestyle and black leather wardrobe adorned with the club’s sacred winged skull patch.

Portrait of American motorcyclist and charter member of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels Sonny Barger (born Ralph Barger) as he sits at a table, San Francisco, California, January 1979.

Janet Fries/Getty Images

The Hells Angels have a long history of violence, crime and intimidation and Barger was proud of the club’s reputation. He even began describing himself as part of a group of “card-carrying felons.”

Barger himself was convicted of possession of marijuana, trafficking in heroin, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, possession of firearms and conspiracy to blow up the clubhouse of a rival motorcycle gang in Kentucky. But he told the Los Angeles Times the total 13 years he’s served in prison is “not a lot considering how much fun I’ve had.”

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Barger was born on October 8, 1938 in Modesto, California. He dropped out of school as a teenager and enlisted in the army on a fake birth certificate until he was honorably discharged 13 months later when they found out he was too young to serve.

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From there he moved to Oakland, bought a motorcycle and joined a club called the Oakland Panthers. He soon realized that the Panthers weren’t his way of raising hell, and he made new friends in the Hells Angels.

He rose to the rank of leader of the club thanks in part to the 1966 book by Hunter S. Thompson Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Horrifying Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

“In every Hell’s Angels gathering…there’s no mistaking who’s running the show: Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger, the Maximum Leader…coolest guy in the bunch and a tough, quick-thinking dealer when the action hits,” Thompson wrote. “At times he’s a fanatic, a philosopher, a brawler, a shrewd compromiser and a final arbiter… Barger’s word is unquestionable.”

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Barger’s recent battle with cancer wasn’t his first. At the age of 44 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and had his vocal cords removed. In 2012, after another cancer diagnosis, he had his prostate removed.

In 2000, Barger attached his resume with the autobiography Bestselling Author Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. In 2010 he was co-author let’s ridea best-selling guide to motorcycle ownership and safety, and has written several novels about motorcyclists.

He is survived by his wife Zorana.

With files from Reuters

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https://globalnews.ca/news/8959272/sonny-barger-hells-angels-death/ Hells Angels leader and legendary outlaw Sonny Barger, dead aged 83 – National


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