Hells Angels Founder Sonny Barger Dead At 83
The founder of the Oakland Hells Angels has died.
The news broke on Sonny Barger’s personal Facebook page Wednesday night, with a post that 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.”
He says what he enjoyed most from his life was the time spent with his club brothers, family, and friends … he signs off, adding, “Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor.”
Born in Modesto in 1938, Sonny had a troubled youth. He was raised by his alcoholic father after his mother left when he was 4 months old. He was suspended from school several for fighting and ultimately dropped out in 10th grade.
He enlisted in the Army at 16 but was honorably discharged a year later after the military learned that he forged his birth certificate.
He had been in other biker groups before starting the Oakland Hells Angels in 1957. The next year he became the National President after his predecessor went to jail.
There have been stories of racism within the Hells Angels over the years, but. Sonny once said in an interview, “The club, as a whole, is not racist but we probably have enough racist members that no black guy is going to get in.”
He was arrested and locked up a few times, in 1973 for possession of narcotics and a weapon, and in 1988 for conspiracy … they found several firearms and explosives in his possession, believing he was set to hurt a rival gang.
In 1979, he and 33 others were indicted on charges that violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act though he was acquitted the next year after a split verdict.
Sonny was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1983 due to excessive smoking and was forced to have his vocal cords removed. He also had his prostate removed in 2012 as a result of prostate cancer.
Sonny is survived by his wife Zorana and several close family members.
The long-time biker was 83.