Hells Angels founding member Sonny Barger dies aged 83 after brief battle with cancer | Ents & Arts News
Founding member of Hells Angels, Sonny Barger, has died at the age of 83 following a brief battle with cancer.
The biker, author and California outlaw died surrounded by his wife, Zorana, and his “loved ones”.
In a Facebook post, published after his death, Barger wrote: “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.”
Born Ralph Hubert Barger, he wrote in his autobiography that the Hells Angels were a small club in San Francisco before he joined.
The Sons of Anarchy actor went on to create the Oakland Hells Angels in California – now the club’s most significant charter – and is often acknowledged for building it into a worldwide group.
“I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club,” his Facebook post 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.”
He ended the note by saying: “Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honour.”
From prison to an anti-smoking campaigner
Hells Angels has been accused of being a criminal organisation by a number of authorities but Mr Barger has defended the group on numerous occasions, including during one of its biggest controversies when a fan at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969 was fatally stabbed by a member.
He has also been in trouble with the law. In 1972, he and three others were acquitted of murdering a Texas drug dealer and setting a home on fire.
He was later imprisoned for possession of narcotics and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
In the early 1980s, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer and had his vocal chords removed.
Following his diagnosis, he started publicly advocating against smoking using the message: “Want to be a rebel? Don’t smoke as the rest of the world.”
He went on to write six books, his autobiography Hell’s Angel, Ridin’ High Livin’ Free, Dead In 5 Heartbeats, 6 Chambers 1 Bullet, Freedom and his guide to motorcycling Let’s Ride.