Image via Sonny Barger’s Facebook
Today it was confirmed that Sonny Barger, the founder of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Oakland Chapter, author, actor, convicted felon and businessman, died on Wednesday of liver cancer. He was 83 years old.
Barger penned a letter before his death that was shared on his Facebook page upon his passing.
The message reads: “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. I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club. Although I’ve had a public persona for decades, I’ve mostly enjoyed special time with my club brothers, my family, and close friends. Please know that I passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer. But also know that in the end, I was surrounded by what really matters: My wife, Zorana, as well as my loved ones.”
Sonny Barger was born on Oct. 8, 1938, in Modesto, Calif. and became recognized as the Hells Angels Oakland chapter grew throughout the ’50s, and became widely associated with the countercultural movement, during the following decade. The Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels had a close relationship with renowned Bay Area rock bands including the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane and infamously acted as security during the Altamont Free Concert, which became known as the end of the summer of love.
During the event, 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed in the neck by Hell’s Angel member Alan Passaro in front of the stage during the Rolling Stones’ performance. Passaro was later found not guilty but the publicity of the concert brought the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels to national prominence.
Berger acted as the Hells Angels Oakland Chapter’s president throughout his life, stepping down in ’73 after he was sentenced to 10 years to life for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and distribution of heroin, and in ’86 for four years for conspiracy to commit murder, after members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club murdered Hells Angels Anchorage chapter president John Cleave Webb.
Barger was also known for his entrepreneurial spirit and is credited for trademarking the Hells Angels logo. He also acted as a consultant on novels and films about motorcycle clubs in his later years. And acted in Richard Rush’s film Hells Angels on Wheels, which starred Jack Nicholson and acted as Lenny ‘The Pimp’ Janowitz on Sons of Anarchy.