A gang war over drugs and turf between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, known as the “Great Nordic Biker War”, raged from 1994 until 1997 and ran across Norway, Sweden, Denmark and even parts of Finland and Estonia. By the end of the war, machine guns, hand grenades, rocket launchers and car bombs had been used as weapons, resulting in 11 murders, 74 attempted murders, and 96 wounded members of the involved motorcycle clubs. This led to fierce response from law enforcement and legislators, primarily in Denmark. A law was passed that banned motorcycle clubs from owning or renting property for their club activities. The law has subsequently been repealed on constitutional grounds.
In 2007, a Hells Angels-associated gang named Altid Klar-81 (“Altid Klar” is Danish for “Always Ready” and 81 is synonymous with the letters HA) was formed in Denmark to combat immigrant street gangs in a feud over the lucrative illegal hash market. AK81 has been recruiting much quicker than the mainstream Hells Angels as members are not required to own a motorcycle or wear a patch, and racial tensions are running high in parts of Denmark. On August 14, 2008, Osman Nuri Dogan, a 19-year-old Turk, was shot and killed by an AK81 member in Tingbjerg. Later that year, on October 8, there was a shoot-out between AK81 members and a group of immigrants in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, during which one man was injured.
The Hells Angels also featured in the ITV documentary Police Camera Action! on the 1996 episode International Patrol where footage from the Rigspolitiet was shown of an individual carrying a knife, who was later arrested.
Spanish police carried out a number of raids against the club on April 21, 2009, arresting 22 members in Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Madrid and Las Palmas. Two of them were members of the club’s Italian chapters. The Hells Angels arrested were charged with drugs and weapons trafficking, and extortion. Law enforcement seized military-style weapons and ammunition, bulletproof vests, a kilo ofcocaine, neo-Nazi literature and $200,000 in cash during the searches of 30 properties. One suspect also attempted to use a firearm against police officers as he was being arrested. It was part of an investigation into the club, known as Valkiria, which began in October 2007 and also led to eight arrests in December 2007. Prior to this, the only operation against the club in Spain took place in March 1996.
On July 30, 2010, the European police agency Europol issued a warning on an increase of Hells Angels and Bandidos activities in Southeast Europe and Turkey. The newly founded Hells Angels Turkey denied the warning’s content, calling the relevant report “utter nonsense” and alleging Europol officials are after more European Union funds. On July 2, 2011, around 20 Hells Angels Turkey members in Kadıkoy, Istanbul attacked people in a bar and injured 7 of them (2 severely) pleading that these people were drinking alcohol on the street and disturbing the neighbourhood. It had been earlier reported that Turkish defectors from Bandidos Germany chapter have joined the ranks of Hells Angels Turkey.
In August 2007 a Hells Angels member, Gerry Tobin, was shot dead on the M40 motorway by members of a rival motorcycle gang, the Outlaws. Those responsible received life sentences in November 2008. Tobin was returning home to London, where he worked as a Harley service manager, from the Bulldog Bash.
In January 2008, there was a brawl between up to 30 Hells Angels and Outlaws at Birmingham International Airport. Police recovered various weapons including Knuckledusters, hammers and a meat cleaver. Seven Outlaw members and five Hells Angels faced trial as a result.
One major event in Hells Angels’ history involved the December 6, 1969, Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway – partially documented in the 1970 film Gimme Shelter
– featuringJefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Rolling Stones. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform but canceled at the last minute owing to the ensuing circumstances at the venue. The Angels had been hired by The Rolling Stones as crowd security for a fee which was said to include $500 worth of beer. The Angels parked their motorcycles in front of the stage in order to create a buffer between the stage and the tens of thousands of concertgoers.
Crowd management proved to be difficult, resulting in both spectator injury and death. Over the course of the day, the Hells Angels became increasingly agitated as the crowd turned more aggressive.
At a later murder trial of Hells Angel Alan Passaro, a security guard testified he heard the Hells Angels being summoned over the loudspeakers when the helicopter bearing The Rolling Stones landed. Debate after the event was over whether or not the Hells Angels were to manage security for the entire concert or just for The Rolling Stones. Sam Cutler, the Stones’ agent who had arranged to pay the Hells Angels said their role was as bodyguards to the Rolling Stones. This was denied by the Hells Angels as well as others connected to the event. During the opening act of Santana, the Hells Angels surged into the crowd numerous times to keep persons off stage.
Motorcycles crowd the field at the infamous “Gimme Shelter” rock concert featuring the Rolling Stones. A fan was stabbed to death by a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club on Dec. 8, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif.
By the time The Rolling Stones took stage, numerous incidents of violence had occurred both between the Hells Angels and internally within the crowd, not the least of which featured a circus performer weighing over 350 pounds stripping naked and running amok amid the concertgoers. Audience members attempted to detain him. Eventually, the irate man was subdued after Angels intervened with fists and makeshift weapons, while a crowd of 4,000–5,000 looked on from the edge of the stage.
The aggression did not subside there. After an Angel’s motorcycle was toppled, club members’ tempers continued to escalate, their ire spread wide between the audience and performers alike. At one point, Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked unconscious following an altercation with an Angel, an event later depicted in Gimme Shelter. The Grateful Dead refused to play following the Balin incident, and left the venue.
A shoving match erupted near the stage during a rendition of the song “Under My Thumb”. A man in the audience named Meredith Hunter produced a handgun. Hunter was stabbed to death. A Hells Angel member, Alan Passaro, was later acquitted of murder on grounds of self-defense. After the concert and critical media attention given to the HAMC, Sonny Barger went on a local California radio station to justify the actions of the Hells Angels and to present their side of the story. He claimed that violence only started once the crowd began vandalizing the Hells Angels’ motorcycles. Barger would later claim that Meredith fired a shot which struck a Hells Angels member with what he described as “just a flesh wound.”
In 2005, after a two year exhaustive cold-case renewal of the file, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office permanently closed the case. An enhanced and slowed down version of the original film footage was produced for the police, and after examining it Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Dudek said Passaro, who died in 1985, was the only person to stab Hunter and he did so only after Hunter pointed a handgun at the stage where the Stones were performing.
Alan Passaro is the only person who stabbed Meredith Hunter, Dudek said, adding that Passaro’s lawyer confirmed his client was the sole assailant. “Passaro acted with a knife to stop Meredith Hunter from shooting.”
The River Run Riot occurred on April 27, 2002, at the Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada. Members of the Hells Angels and the Mongols motorcycle clubs fought each other on the casino floor. As a result, Mongol Anthony Barrera, 43, was stabbed to death, and two Hells Angels, Jeramie Bell, 27, and Robert Tumelty, 50, were shot to death. On February 23, 2007 Hells Angels members James Hannigan and Rodney Cox were sentenced to two years in prison. Cox and Hannigan were captured on videotape confronting Mongols members inside the casino. A Hells Angel member can be clearly seen on the casino security videotape performing a front kick on a Mongol biker member, causing the ensuing melee.
However, prior to this altercation, several incidents of harassment and provocation were noted in the Clark County, Nevada Grand Jury hearings as having been perpetrated upon The Hells Angels. Members of the Mongols accosted a vendor’s table selling Hells Angels trademarked items, had surrounded a Hells Angel and demanded he remove club clothing. In addition, nine witnesses claimed the fight began when a Mongol kicked a member of the Hells Angels. Regardless of which minor physical incident can be said to have “caused the melee”, it is clear that The Hells Angels had come to confront the Mongols concerning their actions.
Attorneys for the Hells Angels claimed that the Hells Angels were defending themselves from an attack initiated by the Mongols.
Charges were dismissed against 36 other Hells Angels originally named in the indictment.
On January 28, 2007 a woman named Roberta Shalaby was found badly beaten on the sidewalk outside the Hells Angels’ clubhouse at 77 East Third Street in the East Village, Manhattan. The resulting investigation by the NYPD has been criticized by the group for its intensity. The police were refused access to the Hells Angels clubhouse and responded by closing off the area, setting up sniper positions, and sending in an armored personnel carrier. After obtaining a warrant, the police searched the clubhouse and arrested one Hells Angel who was later released. The group claims to have no connection with the beating of Shalaby. Five security cameras cover the entrance to the New York chapter’s East 3rd Street club house, but the NY HAMC maintains nobody knows how Shalaby was beaten nearly to death at their front door. A club lawyer said they intended to sue the city of New York for false arrest and possible civil rights violations.
On February 27, 1988 David Hartlaub was murdered in his van at a bank parking lot near the Musicland record store that he managed, as he was dropping off the nightly deposit. The deposit bag contained about $4000 in cash and was not taken. Three members of Hells Angels motorcycle gang; Steven Wayne Yee, Mark Verdi, and John Ray Bonds were carrying out a hit. Cleveland Hells Angels were planning to retaliate against a Sandusky Outlaw gang member for the Joliet, IL. shooting of an Hells Angels member the previous year, at which Bonds had been present. The Outlaw member drove a van almost identical to Hartlaub’s. The trio mistook Hartalub’s van for their enemies and shot and killed him by mistake. Both the gun and the van’s carpet were spattered with blood, allowing police to use DNA evidence, and discovered that John Ray Bonds was the shooter who had hid inside Hartlaub’s van and was waiting to kill him. He shot him with a MAC-11 9-mm semi-automatic pistol fitted with a homemade silencer. Bond’s DNA profile analyzed by the FBI matched the bloodstains found in Yee’s car and based on this they were able to use it as key evidence. This was one of the first cases of DNA being used for criminal conviction. The trial and legal wrangling lasted nearly two years and ended in long prison terms for all three Hells Angels members, who may remain in prison on sentences up to life.
In 2001 Hells Angels Rodney Lee Rollness (Former Hells Angel) and Joshua Binder murdered Michael “Santa” Walsh, who had allegedly falsely claimed to be a member of the Hells Angels. Paul Foster, hoping to join the Hells Angels, aided in the murder by luring Walsh to a party at his house and helping cover up the crime. West Coast leader Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, along with Rollness and Binder, were also convicted of various racketeering offenses.
Books and newspaper articles
Perhaps the most notorious and colorful account of the Hells Angels was written by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Published in 1966, Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, was expanded from an original 1965 article for The Nation after he spent a year in close quarters with group.
Thompson, Hunter S. Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. New York: Random House, 1966; Ballantine Books, 1996 (ISBN 0-345-41008-4)
Barger, Sonny; Zimmerman, Keith; and Zimmerman, Kent Hell’s Angels: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. HarperCollins (ISBN 0060937548)
Jameson, Michael (2000). “Motorcycle club’s origins clouded in wartime history, but all sides agree on one thing: Today’s Hells Angels are no monks”. Missoulian (Missoula, Montana: Lee Enterprises). Archived from the original on April 26, 2006.
Langton, Jerry Fallen Angel: The Unlikely Rise of Walter Stadnick in the Canadian Hells Angels. John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. (ISBN 0-470-83710-1)
The Assimilation: Bikers United Against The Hells Angels by Edward Winterhalder and Wil De Clercq – ECW Press 2008 (ISBN 1-5502-2824-2)
Winterhalder, Edward, Out In Bad Standings: Inside The Bandidos Motorcycle Club – The Making of a Worldwide Dynasty,Blockhead City Press, 2005/Seven Locks Press, 2007 (ISBN 0-9771-7470-0)
Sher, Julian and Marsden, William The Road to Hell : How the Biker Gangs are Conquering Canada, Random House, 2004 (ISBN 0676975992)
Sher, Julian and Marsden, William Angels of Death; Inside the Bikers’ Global Crime Empire, Knopf Canada, 2006 (ISBN 0676977308)
Cherry, Paul The Biker Trials: Bringing Down the Hells Angels, ECW Press, 2005 (ISBN 155022638X)
Lavigne, Yves Hell’s Angels: Taking Care of Business, Ballantine Books, 1994 (ISBN 9994961950)
Lavigne, Yves Hell’s Angels: Into the Abyss, HarperTorch, 1997 (ISBN 0061011045)
Lavigne, Yves Hell’s Angels at War, Harper-Collins, 2000 (ISBN 0006385648)
Sännås, Per-Olof Hells Angels, Action Bild Per-Olof Sännås, 2003 (ISBN 9163135752)
Police claim a victory over bikers in Thunder Bay CBC News, Thursday, January 19, 2006
Storm thwarted Mick Jagger murder attempt Telegraph, UK, Sunday, March 2, 2008
Wagner, Dennis (Jan. 23, 2005). “Hells Angels: The federal infiltration”. The Arizona Republic.
Alain, M, Federal Probation, 00149128, Jun95, Vol. 59, Issue 2
Stock.P Report/Newsmagazine . To hell with organized crime. 05/14/2001, Vol. 28 Issue 10, p27, 2p
Morselli. C Trends in Organized Crime Jun 2009, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p145-158
Hells Angels at the Open Directory Project
Official Hells Angels website — listing many chartered local chapters, with links
FBI report on Hell’s Angels from the 1960s and 1970s
Never-Seen: Hells Angels, 1965 – slideshow by Life magazine
Early HELLS ANGELS History
BOOZEFIGHTERS MC CHAPTER 44
Submitted by Bruce Hewston (BHEWSTOemail@example.com) 12, 1993April(BFMC refers to the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club.)
The following is from my ex’s dad who lived in Hollister; Wino, JD & Jim,Lance & Johnny Roccio, original Boozettes; 2 HA books & Sonny Barger. BFMC was #1 when outlaw meant non-AMA not criminal. They created a realbiker image that newsmen then Hollywood fags perverted into the one wanabesworship. BFMC is riding 500 miles, winning races then having so much funall of the locals joined in. Perversion is dopers with Brando attitudes inbiker drag! Frontier ethics persisted into the 60’s: we welcomed risk as part ofhaving fun. Men afraid of guns or motors were cowards not sensitive! Vetswanted the freedom they’d earned & the fun they’d missed – fun like in LeeMarvin’s part of The Wild One – and folk they saved didn’t mind them havingit. Quarrels between different kinds of bikers didn’t exist cuz everybodyraced, toured, partied & bikes broke so often we depended on each other.Weekly rags provided news & folk entertained each other. Talent made you popular, a motor made you a hero. Fairs offered Prizes to attract guys who raced for pure fun plus “Pro’s” who made a living racing. AMA only sanctioned profitable races; “fun” races were “outlaw” races, run by outlaw clubs & anyone who raced for fun was an outlaw. In 46 The 13 Rebels rode to a race at El Cajon. It was dull so a well-oiled Bro named Willy Forkner crashed the fence to join the main. The crowd loved it but AMA did not: Willy went to jail & his bros left him there. So Willy nastied his rags & headed for the All American.
The Biker image was literally born there, on Firestone East of Central in South-Central LA: a meeting place for bikers. Willy, George Menker, “Fat Boy” Nelson & Dink Burns went out to start a club that’d know how to have fun & found Walt Porter puking in a box. A name? Walt gagged: “Booozefighters – aswha’ dey mad about, yer Boozin ‘n fightin” – a name right out of the gag box. That unique ability to laugh at themselves let them accomplish things while having FUN. For years they toted a Gag Box & t o this day all real Boozefighters have GB on their jersey to remind us to HAVE FUN! BFMC was an outlaw club because AMA refused to charter the name. Most original members were racers so they sired Yellow Jackets. BOOZETTES (a separate women’s club) held “outlaw” races that became so famous JC Agajanian rode their success to open world-renown Ascot Park. Clausen’s strokers pushed THE BRUTE to 227 MPH (in 46!) under Keltor & Hunter, Lance won the Jack-pine & Jim Cameron not only won Catalina & Big Bear on BSAs but pioneered the art of riding thru bars. Wino retired the side car trophy on JD’s rig & the near win at Daytona on JDs factory Goose took the Roccio boys to Europe (Johnny, an ex-rebel is still active). After warnings, one GB’r rode his hill climber through the crowd. Police arrested him. Spectators gathered to protest. A Bro on a Triumph pushed through to ask what happened. The cops ran him off – with his hand cuffed bro on the back! By the time the crowd let the cops thru they were gone!
That’s real class! It involves people, makes them part of the joke not ducks. Hollister was like any Grapes of Wrath Ca. town. Boozefighters took it over by having so much fun that everyone had to join in! Imagine 20 BFrs then 4000 bikers & then 50,000 citizens joining a party that went down in history! That’s what GB is all about! Dagwood is easy to intimidate. Making him party is the challenge! Then he’s on your side & welcomes you back. Hollister still hosts annual races & hill climbs . ..? Rags that got rich reporting WWII were going broke for lack of news & bogeymen so reporters created both: paid Fat Boy (Jim cameron says it wasn’t even Fat boy) to pose, reported a riot & blamed it on BFMC. That sold so many rags they did it again: Rampaging BFrs cut wires & took over Riverside only in the headlines! The sheriff published letters putting the lie on the slander but Boozefighter replaced Nazi on Dagwood’s dread list & Otto went home to clone the next bogeyman: HAMC. Then came T he Wild One. Marvin set his role on Wino but Brando got the lead &, too dull to have fun let alone create it, taught 1000’s of impersonators how to act. 20 years later Thompson wrote: Boozefighters kicked off the riot that lead to THE WILD ONE but those most influenced identified with Brando vice Marvin. The Market Street Commandos were in the grip of The Wild One when Rocky (a HA) from Berdoo was elected and .. soon 40 Angels were roaring around Frisco. In Oakland fans copied their HA patch, fans i n Chicago/Detroit copied Brando’s logo, etc. & the fraud grew, fed by the reporters & cops it served.
Wannabes who’d spit on Elvis impersonators still unknowingly impersonate Brando. Costumes got so good AMA couldn’t tell fans from bikers & blamed the bad 1% so leading fans chose 1% on a diamond to differentiate themselves from bikers like Wino – then went to war over who could wear it, provoking a cop attack on us all! By 1965 harassment made it impossible to wear colors in any city except Oakland .. the SanFran chapter dwindled from 75 to 11, the original Berdoo chapter to a handful5.
Til then bikers proudly displayed their colors. Wino proposed a green shirt with the familiar bottle on the sleeve but the club voted a more distinct white racing jersey with kelly green sleeves, bottle on front & GB on the left sleeve, then added the solid green sweater with the same logo & lettering. Many stenciled their clubs name/logo on their jackets in the style copied by Brando but police torment forced Brando fans to adopt the now-standard hide-with-pride vests. Mean while, fag became gay & cowards sensitive: Dagwood replaced John Wayne as role model & Hondas sold like hotcakes.
That killed outlaw races & took alot of the fun out of biking. In 65 Monterey hosted a run. Two black pimps working the HA bar at closing got herded to the beach by police. HA’s demanded group rates, pimps called the cops, head lines about fiancees forced to watch as their brides were gang raped sold alot of papers & H ollywood taught kids to impersonate Brando fans then dopers. Even wimps can buy custom sleds to imitate hippy dopers so flocks of yups guided by a rag named for the flik, bought costumes & H-Ds to trailer behind Winnebagos! Meanwhile, thin being in, MD’s passed out Diet Pills that let Brando fans party like bikers. About 1968 the supply dried up so they started making their own. Selling them let a few live like the dopers in Easy Rider: MCs turned into Major Corp.s, infiltrated & run by dealers who used Bros as soldiers. That attracted RICO: let cops dupe clubs into wars that yielded promotion-getting busts. Old bikers sat it out! They still rode & partied but wimp’s eagerness to sue killed the events that attract members so by 1988 few of the Hollister Crew remained. Loath to see the club die, they put an ad in EZ Rider, issued 30+ charters then started weeding-out. My charter of 1 Nov. 1988 was #26. Few remain but that’s more than in ’87. Ignorant of their heritage, the minority at Bean Blossom in 89 voted to imitate Wino impersonators: become a nation with Bluto patches as its uniform. The NE Bros had an OK to use the HA configuration & refused to offend the HAs so Bluto chose the HA motif. That was a blunder: Gossip said Wino started the HAs & BFMC had all the bags of a 1% nation so we looked like an HA invasion: Outlaws closed Chicago, Indy & Dayton, Vagos our Long Beach chapter & we lived under such a cloud of terror some finally ousted King Bluto by force! Hind sight proved we ‘d be better off if original jerseys had remained the only “Official” Colors, leaving all else to local option: We have had 0 1% trouble since Teach did just that. Weather outside S. Ca. requires jackets so most want patches but we are not impersonators so we don’t need 1% or Elvis suits. JD & Wino have been Bros for 50 years & more different guys’d be hard to imagine. Why? Because each has abilities & assets the other respects. Wino started this club cuz the Rebels tried to tell him what to do. In his first letter to me, he said: “I’m not trying to push any of my shit I don’t give a damn what kind of bike you ride or if you drink or not you’re still a Bro to me”. The club survived 45 years on that spirit & if we don’t fuck it up trying to be conformists or impersonators it’ll go 100’s more. If you wanabe 1% be the best: prospect a 1% club that’s respectable. The only excuse to use 1% as a BFMC role model is ignorance.
BFMC is a real Biker club; too busy having fun to conform to anybody elses image! BFMC is the club the original Berdoo HA’s were modeled after. A movie about BFMC let a Berdoo HA start the Frisco HAs who were copied by the Oakland HAs &c., &c. & the Outlaw’s “Charlie” came right off Brando’s back! These clubs have come along way, created a reality of their own that they are proud of. And yes, we should respect them for being the best at their thing. But we should not turn respect into emulation because we have a history of being the best at our thing: riding, having fu n & turning bummers into mardi gra’s! Mail-order? I got my charter from THE man who founded THE club that created the image they still copy. T-shirt club? Is THE jersey worn by THE bikers their founders movie heros were trying to portray less elegant than a plagiarized patch on a vest designed to hide? Dylan impersonating Elvis’d be an insult to both. Boozefighters in 1% rags are an insult to both – & 1%rs aren’t famous for tolerating insult. Why make trouble? We are famous for turning bummers int o parties. If you wanna do the opposite fer crissake join a club that specializes & earn some respect. I’m ashamed when bikers buy me beer ‘cuz I didn’t earn it.
The Originals paid for it, many with their health & some with their lives. It would be a horrible disservice to turn BFMC into a 1% club, a yuppy, nostalgia or “Bros” club! The way to repay them is to keep their traditions: to ride, treat each other like family & have so much fun others join in. If you have some other agenda expect alot of flak from Bros who what BFMC stands for! We dont talk about making it the #1 club cuz that’s already been done! BFMC is the #1 club, grandaddy of all! Let others compete for the title of #1 Major Corporation or Brando impersonator. We respect them but we don’t need to imitate them any more than Wilt the Stilt needs to imitate a football star.
We are the class in our league! Show it like Willy would have done: turn some bummer into a wild celebration that everybody remembers, not vice versa. And when anybody buys your patches a beer, drink it to the original Boozefighters; the real outlaw bikers that started it all