Friday, February 25, 2011

Sonny Barger

Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger (born October 8, 1938(1938-10-08) in Modesto, California) is a founding member (1957) of the Oakland, California, U.S. chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Sonny Barger is also the author of four books: Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, Freedom: Credos from the Road, Dead in 5 Heartbeats and 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet. He was editor for the book Ridin' High, Livin' Free. Barger was identified but didn't speak in Hells Angels on Wheels and was one of several members of the Angels who had speaking parts playing themselves in Hell's Angels '69. He wrote a guide for motorcycle riders published in 2010.

Barger was one of the Hells Angels present at The Rolling Stones' Altamont Free Concert in 1969. He is also a prominent figure in Hunter S. Thompson's bestselling book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Barger and the Hells Angels made international headlines when a small group disrupted hundreds of anti-war protestors in Berkeley, California in 1965.

Barger was also listed in Tom Wolfe's best seller: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test during Ken Kesey's La Honda encampment.

In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer, caused by years of heavy smoking. As a result, his vocal cords were removed, and after a laryngectomy he has learned to vocalize using the muscles in his throat.

In 1988, Barger was sentenced for conspiring to blow up the clubhouse of a rival motorcycle club, the Outlaws in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent four years in federal prison in Arizona.

As of 2007, Barger remains an active member of the Hells Angels in the Cave Creek Chapter (Phoenix, Arizona), having moved there from Oakland in 1998. He is reported to have owned 10 to 12 motorcycles throughout his life. In recent years Barger has worked to promote motorcycle safety, co-authoring a book on the subject with Darwin Holmstrom, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles (Alpha: 1998). The book, "Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling," was released by HarperCollins on 8 June, 2010.

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