Hells Angels Founder, ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Actor – Deadline

Sonny Barger, infamous founder of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, author, ex-con, occasional Sons of Lawlessness actor and one of the motorcyclists who provided the violent, bloody security at the infamous Rolling Stones Altamont concert in 1969 died of cancer on Wednesday. He was 83.

Barger announced his own death in a pre-written message then posted to his Facebook page today: “If you’re reading this message, you know I’m gone. I requested that this note be posted immediately after my death. I have had a long and good life full of adventure. And I have had the privilege of being part of a great club. Although I have been a public person for decades, I have especially enjoyed special time with my club brethren, my family and close friends.

“Please know that I passed away peacefully after a short 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. Hold your head high, stay loyal, stay free and always appreciate honor — son.”

Long the public face of the infamous and often outlaw Angels, Barger was a founding member of the Oakland, CA division of the club.

Sonny Barger, Charlie Hunnam, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (2011)
Everett Collection

Barger had written six books, including his autobiography Hell’s Angel – The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, in which he blamed Altamont’s disastrous concert on the Stones. The Angels had been hired by the band to provide security, a decision the Stones would regret: The bikers beat spectators with billiard sticks, punched and punched Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin, and attacked (in self-defense, they claimed) a gun-wielding 18 year old Stones fan named Meredith Hunter. One of the Angels stabbed and killed Hunter, but was acquitted after claiming self-defense.

Rolling Stones Tour resumes Tuesday in Milan, says Covid recovered Mick Jagger

The incident became one of the most defining events in rock history, with Barger in his autobiography blaming the Stones for delaying their arrival and driving the crowd into an impatient frenzy. Barger said in his book that he forced Richards to start the concert at gunpoint. The performances and violence were captured in the classic 1970 documentary give me shelter, directed by Albert and David Maysles.

Barger also became entangled with the law over the years. He was acquitted of the murder of a drug dealer in 1972, but was convicted of narcotics and weapons charges in 1973 and 1988, serving about four years for each conviction.

He gained fame in the mid-1960s when he played a major role in Hunter S. Thompson’s non-fiction books (Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs) and Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test†

Barger also took part in a number of documentaries about the motorcyclists. In 2010, he began a three-episode recurring role on FX .’s motorcycle drama Sons of Lawlessness, who portrays Lenny “The Pimp” Janowitz. He reportedly assisted the show’s creator Kurt Sutter as a sort of de facto motorcycle culture advisor.

Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1983 and prostate cancer in 2010. It was unclear today exactly which form of cancer caused his death. Complete information on survivors was also not immediately available.

Leave a Comment