The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is one of the biggest and most famous biker clubs in the world. The club, which was founded as a way for veterans to connect and create a community, has over time become a worldwide phenomenon. You won’t believe what you have to do to join the infamous biker gang.
Most of the versions agree that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was officially formed on March 17, 1948 in Fontana, California. The club’s founders were the Bishop family and a few other World War II veterans that banded together from different post-war bike clubs like the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington.
Despite speculation to the contrary regarding a criminal element, the Hells Angels maintain that they started the club because military surplus had suddenly made motorcycles reasonably inexpensive and because many young men after the war were feeling copped up and missing the company of their fellow soldiers
The Club Name Was Based on a Squadron Nickname
The name Hells Angels is commonly believed to have been suggested by Arvid Olson, an associate of the founders but not a member himself. Olson served in the Flying Tigers “Hell’s Angels” fighter squadron in China during World War II.
The nickname “Hell’s Angels” came about similarly to other nicknames which American soldiers used in World War I and II. They tried to think of the toughest and most intimidating names and used them for their squadrons.
More Charters Spring Up in California
When the club was just starting out, charters began to spring up in other areas of California at a fairly rapid pace. Ralph “Sonny” Barger, who founded to Oakland charter, said the first charters in California were located in San Francisco, Oakland, Fontana, Gardena and some other less known places.
During this period, each charter was self-sustaining and independent and didn’t even know that any other similar groups existed. It was only in the 1950’s that the different groups started coming together and united to create one big operation with its own core values, internal codes and standards for admission.
The Hells Angels and Counterculture
In the 1960s, the Hells Angels were heavily involved with the counterculture movement, particularly in California. They fit right in with the need to challenge authority, embrace individualism and promote social change. They were widely known in the famous Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and often attended local concerts and social gatherings.
Various club members were also connected to the primary leadership of the counterculture movement. They often met with musicians and thinkers such as Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and others.
A Few Rotten Apples
The Hells Angels and some other motorcycle clubs do not wish to be known for their bad rep. They call themselves a one percenter biker club. That title, which is more than 50 years old, is based on the old expression that 1% of troublemakers give a bad name to 99% of bikers. They hope that this description will help the public separate them from the many negative stereotypes associated with biker gangs in general and the Hells Angels in particular.
Public relations aside, it is true that more than a few members have been convicted of various crimes, from dealing drugs to murder.
The Hells Angels may have started out just in California, but by 1961 they were going global. The very first charter which opened outside the US was in Auckland, New Zealand. After that, the motorcycle club began popping up all over the world. The first European charter opened in London in 1969.
These days, Europe alone houses over 275 charters. Since the ’70s, charters have been founded in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and more. The club is always on the lookout for new areas for expansion.
The Dress Code
Hells Angels are not shy about their membership in the club and make sure people know about it. Members almost always wear a leather or denim “cut”, which is their lingo for a motorcycle vest. The cut features different patches, many of which have Hells Angels written on the back plus the name of their local charter on the bottom.
If the cut belongs to a full-fledged member, it will also feature the red and white-winged “death head” logo, the letters HAMC (Hells Angels Motorcycle Club) and the number 81. The 81 represents the letters H and A. H being the eighth letter of the alphabet and A being the first. A member may earn other patches during his time in the club.
Joining the Club
It is not easy to become a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. You must have the right personality, know the right people and basically want to live on your motorcycle. Even then, the initiation process may take years, if you even make it that far. To get started, you need a valid motorcycle license, own a Harley Davidson motorcycle over 750 CC, although sometimes other American motorcycles may be accepted, and have a personality that fits the club profile.
Your past cannot include accusations of child molestation or applications to become a police officer or prison guard. There are more than likely other requirements, but they are not known to the public.
When a candidate has been deemed acceptable, the next step in the process is to become a “hang around.” That means that the prospective member is allowed to come to some of the club meetings or join other club members at open social gatherings.
A hang-around gets the chance to meet and connect with other members, but also and maybe more importantly, to get a glimpse into the Hells Angels lifestyle and what it means to be a part of it.
Becoming a Prospect
After a while, if the hang-around still wants to join the club, he may be asked to become an associate. That means a year or two more of attending club events, hanging out with members and generally showing that they have what it takes. An indeterminate amount of time after that, the associate can be reclassified as a prospect.
While prospects are allowed to attend closed meetings, they still don’t have the right to vote on club business. During their time as prospects, candidates are still being evaluated by other members for their suitability to become a fully patched club member. Prospects at least get to wear a cut with a patch featuring the state or territory of their charter.
Membership Requires a Unanimous Vote
The last stage in the process is getting voted in as a fully patched member. This only happens if the entire charter votes unanimously for the prospect to get in. Before the voting takes place, it is customary that the prospect travels to every charter in the area and introduce himself to all the members. This allows members to get to know him, ask questions and shows his commitment to the club.
After successfully being voted in by the local charter, the prospect takes part in an initiation ceremony where he receives his top Hells Angels rocker and winged death head logo. Finally reaching the status of a full-fledged member is known as “being patched.”
The “Filthy Few” and “Dequiallo” Patch
Tony Thompson, a crime correspondent and the author of the book Gangs, talks in his book about other patches which members may receive for particular acts. For example, the patch with Nazi-like SS lightning bolts and the words “Filthy Few.” This patch is supposedly only given out to members who have committed murder or are willing to commit murder for the club.
Another example is the “Dequiallo” patch. This patch is only awarded to members who reacted violently to law enforcement representatives while being placed under arrest. Other secret patches exist to help members show their commitment to the club and showcase the things they have done. For obvious reasons, their meanings are not public knowledge.
Hunter S. Thompson and the Hells Angels
Strangely enough, author and well known “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson has the Hells Angels to thank for the start of his career. He spent a year living and riding with the club and absorbing the biker gang atmosphere before writing Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
In the end, Thompson and the club parted on bad terms. The writer tried to keep a man from hurting his wife and ended up badly beaten himself. The gang also accused him of taking advantage of them for money and fame and demanded a cut from his profits. The book was a big hit, but Thompson did not share any of the money with the group.
The Altamont Concert Incident
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969 was a counterculture concert in which the Hells Angels were in some way hired to do security. It is unclear who actually did the hiring or what it entailed, but almost everyone seemed to agree that it was a bad idea.
The festival was rowdy and violent, and some club members dealt with the audience aggressively, but the real problem started when a man by the name of Merideth Hunter pulled out a gun. The Hells Angels reacted quickly, and member Alan Passaro knocked the gun out of Hunter’s hand and stabbed him to death. He was arrested for murder but was acquitted when a video of Hunter and the gun came to light and proved that Pasaro had acted in self-defense.
Hells Angels and Racism
Officially, the motorcycle club is not a racially segregated organization, but you may believe otherwise if you take a look at its members. Sonny Barger was interviewed in 2,000 and said on this subject: “The club, as a whole, is not racist, but there are probably enough racist members that no black guy is going to get in it.”
The common wisdom on the subject has always been that if you’re white you join the Hells Angels and if you’re black you join the Dragons, an all-black motorcycle club founded in Oakland in 1959. But leader of the Dragons, Tobie Levingston, has stated that he has had a long-lasting friendship with Sonny and that the two clubs get along.
The Lennoxville Massacre
There have been times when even different charters of the Hells Angels couldn’t get along. Five members from the Hells Angels North Laval charter were murdered by members of the Montreal, Quebec, and Nova Scotia charters in 1985. The North Laval charter was considered too wild and rowdy. They were bringing police attention to the club and stealing money from other charters.
The victims were invited to the Lennoxville clubhouse where they were beaten, shot, and had their remains thrown into the St. Lawrence River. Five club members who took part in the incident were sentenced to life in prison, but they were all released by 2013. The event became known as the Lennoxville Massacre.
Sons of Anarchy was Loosely Based on the Hells Angels
Sons of Anarchy, the television show beloved by fans and critics and created by Kurt Sutter, was loosely based on the Hells Angels motorcycle club. Numerous plot twists and events in the show are based on actual events that the Hells Angels have come across during the history of the club. Several real Hells Angels even appeared on the show like David Labvrava, Chuck Zito, Rusty Coones, and even Sonny Barger.
The creator wanted the show to be as accurate as possible and even hired Labvrava as a technical advisor to keep things as close to a real motorcycle club as they could. He also played an important part on the show as the character “Happy” and appeared in all seven seasons.
The President of the Hells Angels
Sonny Barger is the ultimate Hells Angel. He is universally recognized as the face and authority of the motorcycle club. Even though each charter has their own leadership and is run mostly autonomously, they all look up to Sonny Barger. Sonny is the original founding member and president of the Oakland Charter.
These days, Sonny is 78 years old but still riding and he has the longest membership in club history and has successfully stayed out of jail for most of his life. He did do a four-year stint inside for trying to blow up a rival gang’s clubhouse in 1988 but has mostly managed to avoid trouble. He has used his reputation wisely, appearing in movies and television shows and even writing books about his life and the club.
Maurice “Mom” Boucher
Sonny Barger may stand for the good things about being a Hells Angel, while Maurice “Mom” Boucher does the exact opposite. He is one of the most infamous former presidents in the history of the club. He was president of the Montreal charter during the bloody eight-year-long Quebec Biker War. He is now serving three life sentences after being convicted of murder and drug trafficking.
Boucher was a member of a white supremacist biker gang called SS before joining the Hells Angels. He was also the man behind the Lennoxville Massacre, which makes him clearly one of the most vicious leaders in the history of the club.
Protecting the Brand
It has been a long time since the Hells Angels have been just a bunch of guys who love riding motorcycles. They became a corporation and with that status have become quite savvy at dealing with legal issues. The Hells Angels sued Disney in 2007 for using their logo without permission in the movie Wild Hogs
Additionally, in 2010, they sued designer Alexander McQueen for misusing their trademarked winged death head symbol and also Saks Fifth and Zappos.com for selling a ring bearing the symbol. They even sued Toys “R” Us in 2012 for selling yo-yos which supposedly had the “Death Head” logo printed on them. These are just a few examples of the legal actions the club has taken when someone tries to mess with their branding.
Ventura Charter President George Christie
George Christie used to be the president of the Ventura, California charter of the Hells Angels. He was a famous club leader and had the longest term as president in Hells Angels history. In 2001, Christie resigned from the club under suspicious circumstances. There were rumors that he was cooperating with the police, which put him in a bad spot with the other members.
Therefore, it was somewhat surprising when in 2013 he was sentenced to a year in prison for his involvement in the firebombing and extortion of a Ventura tattoo parlor. After doing his time, Christie began working with the History Channel show Outlaw Chronicles and published a book about his experiences titled Exile on Front Street.
Kicked Out of the Fair
In 2003, when he was still the leader of the Ventura branch, George Christie Jr. was refused entry to the Ventura County Fair. This was the second year in a row in which he was refused entry due to his violation of their policy of banning gang attire. According to the officers on the scene, Christie and other members would only be allowed entry if they removed their motorcycle vests.
“This is a constitutional thing for one, but it goes far beyond that,” Christie stated. “This is not something I take lightly or something I just do on weekends. I’m a Hells Angel 24 hours a day. I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I equate that to religion.”
Fight Against Discrimination
After being denied access two years in a row, it was made clear to George Christie and his associates by fair officials that they could gain entry if they removed all club attire and insignia. After getting that message, the Hells Angels immediately called them out for discrimination. According to them, the Hells Angels are law abiding citizens and in no way should a motorcycle club be mistaken for some kind of a gang.
Christie cited a 2002 court case in which the judge ruled that there was no evidence that the group was a street gang as a way to support his claim.
Christie Waves the White Flag
It seems like Christie had his heart set on going to the fair. He not only notified fair official of his arrival several days in advance but also decided to bring only his family with him.
“It’s the contention of the Ventura police that there is going to be some sort of spontaneous problem, some type of violence. I don’t agree with that and tried to show them by going as far as taking just my family,” Christie explained. “You would think that one would be left off the hook for good behavior like this.”
The Founder of the Hells Angels – Otto Friedli
Otto Friedli was an original member of the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington Motorcycle Club. In 1948, after the Hollister Riot, he left the club to become one of the founding members of the Hells Angels. He was both the president of the San Bernardino charter for a while and the National President of the club.
It was only when Friedli was incarcerated that Sonny Barger took over his duties as National President. When he was released from jail, Friedli left the Hells Angels but remained friendly with the club. He became a born again Christian and joined the Black Sheep Motorcycle Ministry.
Terry the Tramp
Terry the Tramp was a well-known member of the Oakland, California charter of the Hells angels. He appeared in the film Hells Angels 69 and is mentioned several times in Hunter S. Thompson’s book Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Terry grew to fame in his time in the club under President Sonny Barger. He was famous for his drifting lifestyle, massive size, and love of partying.
Sadly, he passed away from a drug overdose in 1970 at the young age of 30. He is still remembered fondly at the club and is considered a model of what a true Hells Angel should be like.
Yves “Apache” Trudeau
Yves Trudeau, or as he was also known “The Mad Bumper”, was a former member of the Canadian charter of the Hells Angels in Laval, Quebec. Trudeau was addicted to cocaine, which led to his increasing paranoia and belief that other club members had it in for him. Those fears drove him to become an informant for the government.
Trudeau made a deal in which he would give information and in exchange would receive leniency. He admitted to killing 43 people between September 1973 and July 1985 and received life in prison but with the possibility of parole after only seven years. He was released in 1994 and given a new name but was arrested again in March 2004 for sexually assaulting a young boy and was sentenced to four more years inside. While serving his sentence he was diagnosed with cancer and moved to a different jail.
An Assassination Attempt on Mick Jagger?
It seems like legendary singer Mick Jagger has had more than his share of brushes with death over the years. He’s seen it all, from drugs to ex-girlfriends. But there is one such close call that was a complete secret until it was uncovered by BBC Radio: The planned attack on the Rolling Stones frontman which took place at the height of their fame in the early 1970s.
It was the Hells Angels who put the hit out on Jagger. According to a former FBI agent, they planned to assassinate the singer at his holiday home in the Hamptons. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful.
Attack by Sea
The plan they hatched was to sneak up on Jagger from the sea without being seen. Even though the Hells Angels are a pretty tough crew, they are far from trained assassins.
BBC presenter Tom Mangold, who uncovered the unbelievable story for a Radio 4 series on the history of the FBI elaborates, “They planned the attack from the sea so they could enter his property from the garden and avoid security at the front.”
Derailed by Stormy Weather
The story then took an even crazier twist. The men were prepared to attack and were traveling by boat to Jagger’s home when a gigantic storm suddenly hit. All of the men were launched out of the boat and into the water. “A group of them took a boat and were all tooled up,” Mangold said.
“But their boat was hit by a storm and all of the men were thrown overboard.” Mick Jagger certainly had lady luck on his side that day.
Infiltrated by the FBI
The founder of the FBI did not believe the claims that the Hells Angels were just a motorcycle club and was convinced there was a criminal element to their activities. He hatched a plan for his agents to infiltrate some of the gang’s charters, which was a very risky move. It was one of those undercover agents who learned of the assassination attempt.
“The FBI only found out about the assassination attempt sometime after the fact,” stated Tom Mangold.
Although the FBI did not know about the attack in real time, it was still a good thing that they found out about it. This made them even more eager to catch the Hells Angels doing something illegal.
Tom Mangold said, “Apparently this agent was told of the attempt and its failed outcome sometime after it had occurred, although it was never made clear to him when exactly the attempt on Mick Jagger’s life had taken place.”
The FBI Doesn’t Take Action
“Because no actual crime had been committed, there was nothing that the FBI could do,” said Mangold. “It’s as simple as that.” It is possible that they didn’t even let Mick Jagger know about the attempt on his life. This story has remained a secret for so long for a reason. There was no clear evidence of any wrongdoing and the boundaries are unclear.
Many of the things that go on behind closed doors will probably never be revealed.
The Quebec Biker War
It is not unusual for a rivalry to evolve between two groups with similar interests. The Rock Machine was also a motorcycle club, although much smaller in size than the Hells Angels. Their leader Salvatore Cazzetta was friends with Maurice Boucher, but when Cazzetta went to jail tensions began to form between the two clubs and for a time they were even at war.
“They were famous rivals to the Hells Angels from 1986-2002,” TheRichest reported. “The Quebec Biker War primarily dealt with this rivalry; a turf war raged on for years while the two clubs fought over the rights to street drug distribution and territory.”
The Infamous Book
We previously mentioned that Hunter S. Thompson had spent time with and written a book about the Hells Angels. The book was published in 1996, and the club members were less than happy with the way they were portrayed in it. “Unfortunately, the Angels were depicted as emotionally and intellectually void in the book; a feud between the famed author and the club ensued,” TheRichest reported. “They were less than pleased that he spoke so badly of them after they had allowed him to spend time with their club to research the book.”
We briefly mentioned the name Hunter S. Thompson earlier and the fact that he made a book about the Angels. Let’s dive back in deeper on this book. He wrote the book 1966 and it didn’t do a good job depicting the Angels.
Women Who Roll With The Angels
Women Angels The Hells Angels lifestyle is not just appealing to men. Throughout the club’s existence, there have been many women who wanted to join in the activities, ride a bike behind their man and give authority the finger. Many of these women also wear a biker cut with “support your local 81” patches on it.
Don’t think that just girlfriends like to go out riding. There are plenty of Hells Angels wives who like nothing more than the thrill of being a part of the exclusive motorcycle club.
A Dangerous Commitment
Most of the women who ride with the Hells Angels are no less dedicated than the men. Women can be an active part of the club’s community, but it is still fairly unusual for a woman to ride a bike of her own. The women who are connected to the club are also expected to take risks and make some serious commitments. The vast majority of these adventurous women are dating or married to a member of the club.
There can be some serious effects and serious drama if one of these biker couples splits up.
Hells Angels Gatherings
The Hells Angels organize enormous international and local events. Over a thousand Hells Angels club members from all around Europe and the rest of the world took part in the World Run in Poland in 2016 to rally and ride together. The club organizes official events all over the world.
Although local law enforcement never seems happy about their presence, the rides are quite often for a good cause.
Due to their nasty reputation involving violence and crime, law enforcement keeps tabs on the Hells Angels clubhouses all over the globe. The building in this picture used to be a Hells Angels clubhouse on Eastern Avenue in Toronto. The federal government seized the club after multiple arrests and put it up for sale. The proceeds were then used to support a bill against crime.
Coming up next: What happened when police raided a Hells Angels clubhouse in Germany.
Police Raid a Hells Angels Clubhouse in Germany
When police were planning to raid a Hells Angels clubhouse in Cologne, Germany, they made certain not to take any chances. In May 2017, 100 German officers broke down the doors of the clubhouse with a specially modified armored vehicle, complete with battering ram and an iron cage.
The police seized large amounts of money and weapons and arrested 12 members of the Hells Angels. The raid was ordered due to the escalation in gang violence in the area between the Angels and rival gang, the Bandidos.
The Hells Angels Celebrate New Year’s Eve
Here you can see Hells Angels members from the Johannesburg charter ringing in 1983 with a great big kiss. Happy New Year! That must have been some party in Hillbrow, South Africa. But what we really can’t get over is the look on the face of the guy in the back, why is he so surprised by a traditional New Year’s kiss?
According to the information on the Hells Angels website, South Africa is home to eight club charters, including ones in Cape Town and Georgetown. Read on to see the Hells Angels’ take on the Vietnam War.
The Angels Take on Vietnam Protesters
The Vietnam War was a hot button issue right from the start, not only in America but all around the world. In 1965, one of the first anti-war protests were held at the Berkeley-Oakland line in California. The Hells Angels decided to keep the demonstrators out of Oakland and 35 of their members attacked the marchers as they were nearing the police cordon.
A fight broke out in which the Angels beat the protesters and called them traitors. There were no serious injuries in the brawl, except for a police officer who broke his leg. It seems like the cops were on the Angels’ side with only two of them being taken in after the incident.
The Angels Speak Out
The Angels Speak Out A few weeks after the attack on the anti-Vietnam protestors, the Hells Angels decided to make a statement. They held a press conference and Ralph “Sonny” Barger announced that the group had decided not to get involved with any other anti-war demonstrations, despite previous plans to the contrary.
He explained that he was afraid that the protesters “may provoke us to violence.” In the picture, from left to right: Tiny Walters, Ron Jacobson, Skip Workman, Sonny Barger, and Tom Thomas.
Hells Angels Forever – The Movie
A documentary about the club was released in 1983 under the name Hells Angels Forever. The movie outlines the history of the club and their evolution into a worldwide organization. This photo shows late actor Robin Williams and his wife Valerie at the film’s premiere party.
Chuck Zito (seen on the right), who was the Vice President of the New York charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, also attended the premiere. The New York Times review of the film called it: “a narcissistic, somewhat paranoid, sometimes self-conscious home movie.”
When Hells Angels Tie the Knot
In this photo, which was originally published by the Manchester Daily Express, a Hells Angel by the name of John Fernihough also nicknamed Walkden just married his beloved, Marie Clarkson aka Eccles. The British groom was just 17 years old, and the bride was 16. They tied the knot at the local Registrars office in October 1971.
Unfortunately, some of the club’s more recent nuptials have taken a more aggressive turn, like a wedding service which took place in Vegas in 2008 and ended with 13 men getting arrested for assault. Coming up next, the Hells Angels 50th-anniversary celebration.
Celebrating 50 Years
On March 17, 1998, the Hells Angels celebrated the motorcycle club’s 50-year anniversary. Charters around the world held parties on that date to mark the occasion. Here you can see local and visiting members standing together in front of the Ventura County Courthouse.
The infamous George Christie Jr., who was still Ventura character president at the time, invited a teenage member of a narcotics ring to attend anniversary celebrations which were taking place at the clubhouse. He also let him hold his 15th birthday party there.
If you’re wondering where Hells Angels go on vacation, the answer, at least in 1986, was the Stoner Lodge. Situated in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the lodge was the location of an enormous party for Sonny Barger in the summer of 1986. Roughly 200 Hells Angels and their families were in attendance.
The 318-acre ranch and lodge, which was built in 1890, were put on the market in 2016 for a whopping $13.9 million. In this photo, you can see Hells Angels riding up to join the party.
A New Image?
In 1978, following the events at Berkeley, the Manhattan charter of the Angels decided that they wanted to improve the club’s image in the city. The best way they came up with to do that was to throw a party. The celebration took place at the Thrush nightclub on February 28, 1978.
They club members invited their girlfriends and wives and also the press. This photo was originally published in the New York Post with the caption, “So here’s the new image.” The party went over well with the press, but law enforcement was still skeptical. Keep reading to find out what happened when the Hells Angels became acquainted with LSD.
The Merry Pranksters Welcome the Hells Angels
Ken Kesey, the countercultural novelist and LSD experimentalist, held a party at his La Honda, California ranch on Saturday, August 7, 1965. He invited not only his bohemian intellectual friends, who were known as the Merry Pranksters, but also the Hells Angels. To make them feel welcome, he even hung a banner reading “The Merry Pranksters Welcome the Hells Angels” above the entryway.
The party, as documented in several books, apparently included Kesey introducing the Angels to the hallucinogenic drug LSD. In this photo, you can see Hells Angels members dancing at another one of Kesey’s “Acid Tests” parties. The parties usually included music, drug use, strobe lights, and other psychedelic effects.
A Fallen Angel
Gerry Tobin nicknamed “Gentleman Gerry,” was a well-known and well-liked Hells Angels member from the London charter. He was shot dead in 2008 by members of a rival gang called the Outlaws. Tobin was on his way back from the Bulldog Bash biker festival when he was gunned down.
Over 1,000 Hells Angels from all over the world took part in the funeral procession. They followed Tobin’s casket on their bikes for 13 miles. The Outlaws who took part in the killing were sentenced to life in prison. All the statements and image overhauls over the years have not been able to convince the public or law enforcement that the Hells Angels are just a motorcycle club.
More Than A Club
Despite many attempts to try and prove once and for all that the Hells Angels are just a motorcycle club and nothing else, something always comes up to cast them in a suspicious light once more. It makes more sense that a gang would be connected with the drugs and sex trade than a club.
According to TheRichest: “This biker gang is responsible for about 90% of both the drugs and the sex trade in Canada.” That sounds a lot less like a motorcycle riding club and more like a criminal enterprise.
The Former Mayor and The Gang
Politicians with shady dealings make for an interesting news cycle, so it’s no surprise that when the former mayor of Toronto Rob Ford was caught taking pictures with members of the Hells Angels at a Buffalo Bills game, people began getting suspicious. The mayor later denied knowing that the men he was posing with were Hells Angels.
Before the picture was taken, however, Ford was caught on video smoking crack and making racist comments. Therefore, when photographs of him and the club members came to light, people were extremely skeptical, despite his denials.
George Christie Opens Up
As you already know, George Christie Jr. was the longest sitting president in Hells Angels history. He talked openly about the club in a television special titled Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels. Christie exposed many of the club’s secrets and insisted repeatedly that they are not a biker gang.
Christie explained the position, he holds and that the Hells Angels is not a criminal organization. He will not deny that there are criminals within the organization however, just like in all things and all areas of life.
His Unique Perspective
Christie decided that it was time to set the record straight because he was tired of the Hells Angels being mistaken for a criminal organization. He also felt that it was right for him to tell the story and not someone who was never in the club.
“I figured it was the appropriate time to tell the story from my perspective and my words,” Christie says. “It’s interesting because it’s not really from a law enforcement perspective. That’s usually the way these stories are told. It’s very unique.”
Should Christie be afraid of payback not just for leaving the club but for airing their dirty laundry? As we all know, nobody gets to just walk away from a gang. In this case, the Hells Angels are not a gang but there have still been instances where they took their revenge on people who have spilled their secrets.
“That’s really not an issue with me,” Christie states. “Certainly there are people that have taken exception. When you’re a leader in an organization for 35 years and you have a revelation and decide to leave, certainly there’s a faction of your old associates that aren’t going to be happy with you.”
Like Getting a Divorce
Christie isn’t worried about the Hells Angels gunning for him, but what he is feeling is something a lot of people can probably relate to. He describes leaving the club like going through a divorce.
He clarifies by saying: “When I left, it kind of reminded me of a divorce: At first, everyone wanted to be amicable. They weren’t happy about my decision, but they understood it. As things progressed, it became aggressive, and it was hard to take.”
What Attracted Christie?
People are drawn to certain things for a reason. Many members joined the motorcycle club because they were missing a sense of brotherhood, like joining a fraternity. Christie joined the Hells Angels because he was drawn to their code of honor.
“I felt there was really a code of honor despite what society-at-large would think,” Christie explains. “These were guys I could trust. I knew if I confided in them or told them something, they wouldn’t take it and use it against me.”
He Just Wants The Proper Representation
Christie has faith that his representation of the life of the Hells Angels will help start a different conversation about the group in the under informed public. What he really doesn’t want is for people to base their knowledge of the club on the inaccuracies published by the media.
Christie talks about his hopes: “What I want [viewers] to understand is they have completely misinterpreted what the organization is all about and what its primary function is.” Maybe he can help finally change the image of the Hells Angels.
His Reasons for Leaving?
Stepping down from a leadership position is never easy, especially for Christie who served as club president for such a long time. It would have been an enormous change for him. Why did he make the decision to leave the club after so many years? According to him, he felt that they became the people they rebelled against. He clarifies. “At one time, we would interact with all the clubs up and down the coast, and by 2011, we were fighting every major outlaw-bike club in the United States—plus law enforcement.”
Can't deny the politics!
Setting the Record Straight
Christie was getting a lot of negative feedback after he left the club. He had to deal with plenty of false accusations and they were hurting his personal life. He decided to publish a book in which he would tell his side of the story.
“All of a sudden I had people I’ve never met before, who weren’t even club members, who were maybe who you’d call loose associates or fans or whatever, coming at me, making accusations and whatnot. I decided to set the record straight,” Christie explains.