In the 1950s, Sonny Barger turned the "Hells Angels" into a tightly managed organization. After several prison stays, the rocker devoted himself to writing books. Now the icon of the "Hell Angels" has died at the age of 83.
The longtime leader of the rocker and motorcycle club "Hells Angels", Sonny Barger, is dead. The American died of liver cancer in California at the age of 83 surrounded by his family, reported US media, citing his former manager and Attorney Fritz Clapp.
Barger was born in Modesto, California, in 1838. His mother abandoned the family when he was four months old. After being discharged from the US Army for forging documents, he formed the biker group The Oakland Panthers. In 1957 he merged his club with several other rocker gangs under the name "Hells Angels".
Barger has been imprisoned multiple times for gun possession, drug dealing and assault. In 1982, he developed throat cancer, after which his vocal cords had to be removed. After the operation, he had to relearn how to speak. He later monetized his rocker image and wrote five books, including an autobiography.
The "Hells Angels" were originally founded in 1948 by war veterans in California. But it was only under Barger that the group of Harley-Davidson fans who rode the streets in leather gear on their heavy motorcycles became a tightly managed, worldwide organization with members in more than 50 countries.
The bikers with the winged skull and crossbones as their emblem founded their first German offshoot in 1973 in Hamburg. But it was only after the transfer of the hitherto most influential group "Bones" in 1999 that the "Hell's Angels" achieved supremacy in the Federal Republic. The "Hells Angels" are considered to be the most powerful rocker club in the world with the largest number of members. Individual sub-organizations of the "Hells Angels" are repeatedly associated with crimes.