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Hells Angels founder Sonny Barger dies aged 83

#Hells #Angels #founder #Sonny #Barger #dies #aged

Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club who for decades was the public face of the notorious biker gang, has died at the age of 83, according to his Facebook page.

With their leather vests and the roar of their engines as they rode in packs across the open road, the Hells Angels were for many years a symbol—for some Americans, a frightening one—of counterculture life.

Barger was a founding member of the original International Motorcycle Club group based in Oakland, California in 1957.

As sanctioned offshoots of the club were formed across the United States and controversy surrounding the group’s activities grew, Barger acted as a de facto spokesman and defended their outlaw lifestyle.

Barger was present at an infamous 1969 Rolling Stones concert in California for which the Hells Angels had been hired as security, and used their bicycles as a makeshift barrier in front of the stage.

The unruly gathering at Altamont Speedway is remembered for the death of Meredith Hunter, who was beaten and stabbed by members of the Hells Angels after he drew a pistol near the stage.

By this point, the biker gang had already entered popular culture as a roughneck fraternity, through films such as 1967’s “Hells Angels on Wheels,” starring Jack Nicholson, and an extensive 1966 profile by Hunter S. Thompson, who spent a year with the group lived.

Barger spent over a decade of his life in prison on various gun and weapon charges, as well as a 1988 conviction for conspiring to murder rival gang members, according to the Washington Post.

Due to a bout of throat cancer later in life, he had his vocal cords removed and used an electronic device to speak.

Barger had a role in the modern day television series Sons of Anarchy about a fictional biker gang, in which he played a character named Lenny “The Pimp” Janowitz.

“If you’re reading this message, you’ll know I’m gone,” his Facebook account said Thursday morning, adding that he died after a battle with cancer.

“Though I’ve had a public role for decades, I’ve mostly enjoyed the special time with my club brothers, family and close friends,” Barger said in the Post.

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