The moment someone hears the name Hells Angels, many things flash in front of their eyes. This motorcycle club has undoubtedly made its name in the western world and left its mark on the rest. If you think you are eligible to join the club so quickly, you are wrong. Known for breaking the laws in many countries, the life of Hells Angels members are different.
They have to commit their entire lives to the club no matter what. But there are some dark secrets that only a member can reveal. Read on to find out exactly how they live and breathe this lifestyle.
The Hells Angels
The club was formed in 1948. There are many arguments regarding the actual date of formation, but the most commonly agreed date is March 17th. It was the end of World War II, and many war veterans were now allowed to go back and live a civilians life. They had no idea how to go about their daily lives and missed the command and orders they used to get.
A sense of belonging was now missing to all of them. Since there were plenty of motorcycles available during that time, it was cheap to have one. It led to the formation of many motorcycle clubs. One of the far-spread clubs was the Hells Angels.
The man who runs the show
The main man of this club is none other than Sonny Barger. Technically he is not the founder of this club but the man who runs the show. If the club has decisions to make, they come straight to him.
He happens to be the oldest member of this club, and he is the proud president of the Oakland charter. This 81-year-old man is not the only person in the club who calls the shots but he considered to be the godfather for all of them. The Hells Angels members are known for serving time in prison. But this man has spent the least amount of time in jail after he got caught messing with a rival gang.
How did they get their name?
The name Hells Angels get us thinking about who gave this name to the club and why? As you know by now, the members of this club were initially war veterans.
During the war, each squadron had its unique nickname. It was a popular practice among all the US soldiers. Arvid Olson, who was one of the original members of the Hells Angels, came up with this name because the squadron he flew with was called the same.
All the grammar geeks are waiting out there to see if they can correct us with the spelling of Hells Angels. Yes, we do know that there is an apostrophe missing in Hells, and so does the club members.
We are not going the question them about this, but some people have confronted them about this. What do you think their response would be? Of course, something cool. They said that they are aware of the missing apostrophe, but it is missing for us and not for them. They are all about breaking a few small rules in life, and this was a start.
It grew out of hand
If you think that they are only a bunch of people riding around in bikes, then you are mistaken. Back then, it was easy for clubs like these to grow wings. After their name started spreading, other charters were slowly growing in places across California.
San Francisco, Oakland, Gardena, and Fontana were a few of the places where this club was rising slowly. At first, they did not have any laws or club rules that were required to be followed. But after things started getting out of hand, a central organization was required to be set up along with internal laws.
Starting your charter
Being a part of a charter means considering every other member as a brother. The term brother is used in the literal sense, and each person has the other's back. So naturally, when they first began to gather, they were a close group of people who stayed in the same neighborhood.
It took them years to get recognized as a charter. Now, they have a website where you can understand the process of how to start a charter in your neighborhood. Even if you decide to start one, it takes many years for the members to form and run it successfully.
So if one person wants to start a charter in one area, how far does he get to claim his space? Does it mean the gang can claim any space to be theirs? According to the internal laws of Hells Angels, once a charter is started, the group members need to ride the roads and mark their territory.
If another group has already ridden that area, you cannot claim that space. As far as we know, things have been friendly among the members, and they have a general agreement about crossing other people's territories. But things can get dirty if rival gangs get into the scene.
Spreading wings overseas
After the first group got formed in California, other countries got inspired to be a part of this club. But living overseas did not help the cause. The first club formed overseas was in Auckland, New Zealand, in the year 1961. The Hells angels saw that they were receiving global recognition, so they encouraged other countries to be a part of it as well. Slowly, after eight whole years, London was in too.
Today the network is so widespread that you can find a local group in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fifty-nine other countries have now adopted this, and there are a total of 467 across the globe.
There was a deep emotional connection between the members when the club was first formed. This connection could not be understood by all. Hence, they were not very fond of the fact that the club was rooting for different countries.
But soon they saw the value it had to offer and were on board. Since most members were Caucasian when they started, they wanted to remain that way till the end. The world moved forward and so are they. The members accepted the need to be culturally diverse and let the charters have a small degree of autonomy as long as they are following rules.
No woman is allowed
The brotherhood is expected to be given priority before anything else. But many of the members have family and children. The club does not allow anyone to introduce their wives to the club as a member.
Like the military used to be earlier, they try and keep the club the same way, far from females. But such a large organization can not stand still without the support of females. Although no one is directly involved, many are indirectly keeping this club upright.
The music connection
The main motto of the club was reflecting that of the military. They had to look out for each other while breaking a few rules here and there. Sometimes breaking a few rules was taken too far. Soon they were known to be tied with the counterculture of the 60s.
They ran most of their operations out of the Ashbury district in California. Attending local music concerts and other events, were their common activities. The group was also known to be associated with great bands and singers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead, and The Rolling Stones.
Many music bands were noticing the club members as they started showing up in many concerts. The bands saw that the club had utter respect for the band members and loved their work. Slowly a working relationship began between the two, and the members started getting hired to be a part of the band's security team.
They earned the band's respect, and some of them were even joined the bands at their concerts overseas. The love for music among the club members grew, and they showed their passion in every way possible.
Everything was fine until one day
Concerts back then was a lot different than today. Many weird things used to happen in the concerts back in the 60s. This era was when many drugs were coming into widespread usage, and the US was fighting their war against bringing them all down. For the most part, the Hells angles were doing a good job of keeping the concert safe and secured. But there was one incident that changed their image in the music industry.
It was at a concert that was held at the Altamont Speedway back in 1969. When a riot began among the crowd and someone pulled out a pistol. One should know that pulling a weapon in front of a Hell Angel member is not the smartest thing to do. The club member pulled a knife and stabbed him to death. It was the first time such an incident had occurred with a Hells Angels member. He was arrested for murder but was quickly acquitted for self-defense.
Rules are everything
LIFE photographer Bill Ray and writer Joe Bride wanted an inside look of the club. The members gladly let them in, and after a few days, Bill and Joe were fascinated by how the group functions.
These people did not have any jobs; they lacked stability and other things that an American expects to survive. But they had an extraordinary set of rules that they would abide by no matter what. They had not seen anything like this in their lives.
Banned from a fair
Being a member of a gang meant that they had to accept the fact that not everyone liked them. They were okay with it, but when it came to suppressing them, they were not the ones to keep quiet. Once, when the Ventura County Fair was taking place in 2002, many club members were not allowed to go in, only because they had tattoos and adorned gang attire.
The president of the club George Christie Jr was highly offended and made a statement publically:" "This is a constitutional thing for one, but it goes far beyond that. 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." With such an attitude, you can be sure that they were not about to let anyone tell them what to wear.
Don't Break The Rules
What are the consequences of breaking the rules of the club? No one knows for sure what happens to a traitor. But the club knows one thing for sure, they have built this place for many years with hard work.
And no one can come and break the rules and do whatever they wish to. Some inside horror stories revealed that a member who broke the rule will get his tattoos burned off. But we assume that being kicked out of the club, after you've dedicated your whole life to it, is the worse punishment of them all.
One person spoils it for all
We all know that there is one person who can spoil it for the rest of the crowd. Rules are made in the first place because of rule breakers. So you can imagine the reputation you would have if you mention that you are a part of a motorcycle gang.
People will automatically assume that you are a part of a drug cartel, committing crimes. However, the Hells Angels try to stay away from these matters as much as possible, but sometimes, things are not in their control, and at the end of the day, a bad name is slapped on them.
Let's talk about this one percent of people who make it hard for the rest of them. Meet Maurice "Mom" Boucher. He is not a part of the original charter in California. He joined the club during the Lennoxville Massacre. He felt like the gang was more of his taste, but it was far from the truth. Being the ex-president of the Montreal charter, he was known for committing the most venues crimes.
He was responsible for starting the Quebec Biker War, and it lasted for more than eight years. After having committed countless murders, it is said that he is commanding more murders from jail. Not only murders, but he is also accused of sexual assault.
Staying sober is important
When it comes to drugs, the club is particularly strict about the rules. Since there have been associations in the past, they are serious when it comes to possession, dealing, and usage of drugs.
Some of the club members were also engaged in dealing with drugs earlier, and they were kicked out as soon as the authorities found out. At the end of the day, it is about enjoying bike rides with your brothers, and it is best done sober.
Respect for all
Unlike popular belief, the Hells Angels live in their own set of rules and regulations. They follow these like the ten commandments. If not for these rules, they are not bound by anything else.
They believe in respecting everyone in the community, and they do not take it lightly when a woman gets disrespected. If anyone even attempts to harm a woman, this person is sure to reach the hell part of Hells Angels. Taking consent before acting upon something is their main rule.
Smile, and you shall receive a smile in return
What we are trying to tell you, is that these are not bad men. If you ever come across a scary looking man in a leather jacket, be nice and pass a smile. They will protect their neighborhood and the strangers around them as much as their brothers.
There is no reason to throw shade or hate at anyone. The only difference between them and others is that this group does not care for another person's opinion and live life on their terms.
Meetings are serious affairs
Like any other official meetings, the Hells Angels also call for club meetings once in a while. And there are a set of rules that are strictly followed in all of these meetings. An unknown person, called Robert, was responsible for making the rules for such meetings and have been followed to this date.
If any person breaks a rule during the meeting, they have to pay a $100 fine. There should be no interruptions during the meeting unless asked for, and electing a president and all other important decisions are only to be taken in those meetings.
Tradition is important
You must have already guessed by now that tradition is important to the Hells Angels. When riding is the main activity of the group, having a signature bike is important. Looking at these kickass bikes, we are sure you know which bike they love.
Yes, it's the Harley Davidson. This bike is the blood and lifeline of the club. But it takes many years for a person to own a Harley Davidson. By the time you get your bike, you can work your way up to the club.
There are some exceptions everywhere
Having said that Harley Davidson is the only bike they allow in their charters, also there are tiny exceptions everywhere. There are a few charters that have requested to ride other bikes that are more affordable.
Yes, we understand that this is the most important requirement in their rule book, but hey, give them some slack. But you are now allowed to buy any brand that you wish. It should be American manufactured like Buell Motorcycles who have been manufacturing bikes for a long time now.
You are exclusive
They take their commitment to the group as members very seriously. If you are already a part of another club, you cannot get into the Hells Angels. Simple because they consider the membership to be exclusive.
They will consider it only if you are willing to drop your association with all other clubs and dedicate yourself to Hells Angles. The Hells Angels will take care of you like their own, and they expect you to reciprocate. The website issues a warning to those who try and break this rule.
No law and enforcement
The group is all about living life in freedom and breaking a few rules here and there. Though it is not harmful to people around them, they prefer their members to stay far from law and enforcement.
So naturally, they do not want any members who are working for the law. Protecting each other means breaking a few laws, and they do not want to see their brothers ending up in jail only because the law does not allow it.
Lives up to the name
The name states that it is a club. So a club comes with its regular meetings to strengthen their bond. You are expected to attend every meeting they conduct. Of course, in cases of emergency, you are allowed to miss a few.
But if you do not show up regularly, people will start to doubt, and a full-fledged investigation will rain upon you. Because of this reason, the club does not hand out their signature jackets right away. It generally takes years for them to gain trust in you.
Ride of freedom
Although these members need not be asked twice to join a ride, it is stated on the website that riding will be their main activity. They usually ride around 20000 km/ 12400 m every single year, and riding gives them that feeling of freedom in their blood.
Most of the members are obsessed with riding the open road. Marking their territory is also done by riding together, so the members mustn't miss even a single ride session with their brotherhood.
The founding members were military veterans, and hence they formed the group with several ranking of their own. There are various ranks like the president, road captain, senior members, etc. Naturally, when they ride, they follow this order!
When you come across a Hells Angels group riding together, it is quite a sight. At times they take up an entire road. They follow a pattern and do not cross or overstep another rider. The road captain and the president naturally ride in the front of the group, followed by the rest of them based on seniority.
The sight of them riding together is great, but if you see them pull up, it's even more awesome. The Hells Angels pull up during their rides only if they were to take a break or get pulled over by the police.healthstar.info
But if a policeman decides to stop them, they cannot stop one member of the club. Because of their strict rules of the club, all of them have to stop riding. It is definitely worth watching hundreds of bikes pull over at the same time.
The brand name is important
All the members of the club are expected to keep the name of the Hells club flying high. They do not like their name to be associated with anything bad or wrong. In the past, they have removed group members who have broken the smallest rule affecting the club.
Naturally, they want to preserve the name of the brand well. They do not care whether you are a roadside vendor or a large corporation like Disney; they will sue you if you try to tarnish their name.
Copy and get sued
Consent is everything with the club. Speaking of taking on companies like Disney, the club has sued them for using their logo in one of their movies. Disney did not bother taking permission from the club to portray it, and with it comes the legal consequences.
The logo of the Hells Angels is a skull with a helmet and wings. Yes, it does look cool, and many people have tried to copy this logo. And they have rightfully received their punishment for doing so. Toys "R" Us, Saks Fifth, and Zappos.com are a few of the companies they have sued for using their logo.
Sons Of Anarchy
If you play your cards right, The Hells angels will go out of their way to help you. The TV show Sons Of Anarchy spoke to the Hells Angels about loosely creating a show about them.
They were more than happy to oblige and even sent a member of their club as a technical advisor to the series. Many parts of the story are based on the real-life history of the group. The club even agreed to be a part of the cast, and Sonny Barger himself also made an appearance.
Modern problems require modern solutions
The group not only deals with age-old problems but also other modern problems. Their website and its content is something that is not allowed to be shared freely. You cannot pull out a link from the website and share it with others without consent.
You need prior written permission from them to link their website anywhere else. If they wish to withdraw this consent, they can do so at any given time. The website clearly states this disclaimer, and make sure you don't get into trouble with them.
We have not spoken about the obvious thing about The Hells Angles, their attire. You must have noticed by now that they all have a signature look. The most basic thing they require is a pair of jeans pant and a leather jacket.
The rest of the attire is optional. The leather jacket, which they call cut, is the main item with the logo and the name patch. The topmost part has the word Hells Angels written on it. Right below it is the logo and which charter they belong to.
Other dress codes
Apart from the leather jacket, they do have other dress codes for the club. You cannot wear just anything you wish to, along with the jacket. They prefer the jeans and the shirt to be all black. But this rule is not as rigid as the leather jacket.
Other charter members are allowed to wear other clothing with slight modifications. They are instructed to wear full pants, but some are allowed to wear shorts as well. Overall, they are expected to wear darker colors.
If you head to the website of The Hells Angels, you will notice that they sell merchandise. Owning this merchandise does not mean that you are a part of the club. There are specific rules to follow if you ever decide to purchase some.
You are not allowed to copy the design or resell it elsewhere. All the money that comes from this goes towards the maintenance of the club. You can be associated with the club in many ways without being an actual member. Just be wise and make sure you don't get into trouble!
Money from the merchandise
We are sure you know that most of the members live and breathe the group. They do not work in any companies for their income. The most crucial way of earning their income is through merchandise and events.
During these events, the bikers don't need to ride a Harley Davidson. If you ever decided to purchase it, make sure you purchase through a genuine source or the website. This way, they can run their club successfully, and your money will not reach cheaper knockoffs.
Every charter takes care of this neighborhood and the place where they live. They will not let anyone around them suffer. The Hells Angels love to do charity work and donate toys, food, and money.
But each Hells Angels member is not allowed to support any cause that the entire club does not approve of. Choosing which cause to support is a decision made by the entire club. They also hold events to raise money for charity. These are purely nonprofit, and all proceeds go towards disabled children and cancer patients.
As the saying goes, if you do something right, no one remembers, but the moment you mess up, the entire world is there to remind you about it. The same goes with the Hells Angles. From the outside, they may look tough and strong, but from the inside, their hearts are as soft as teddy bears.
When they do charity work, it is usually not a small deal. They all try their best to rope in as much as they can. Once, they donated around 200 bicycles to the Povorello House. Every penny raised here was done with the help of other charters.
The procedure of getting into the club
Now that we have covered almost everything under the sun, let's look deeper into how you can become a member here. There is no sure shot way for you to enter the club. Yes, there are rules and regulations, but passing all the requirements will not get you in.
To start, you need a Harley Davidson bike that is above 750cc. Being associated with the law and enforcement in any way is not allowed. You cannot be an accused criminal, especially of child molestation and abuse. These are just the tip of the iceberg there are many other vibe checks needed to join them, and it could take more than a decade to gain their trust.
Welcome to the Hells Club
If you pass all the necessary tests, the club will welcome you with open arms. But be careful before choosing The Hells Angels; you need to drop out any other prior commitment you have. You cannot be associated with anyone else if you wish to be a continuous member of the team.
It means that your wife needs to get the second priority after the brotherhood. If you are in, you need to prove to them that you are all in, or else you will be kicked out.
Democracy and voting
Looking back at your checklist, you have everything needed to be a part of Hells Angels! Congratulations, you have spent years behind this and sacrificed everything you know to be a part of this club. Is it that easy? No way!
Not only that you need to earn the respect and love of your brotherhood, but you also need to earn their votes. The opinion of every member remains important when it comes to admitting a new joiner to the club.
The vibe check phase
Why exactly does it take a person about a decade to be accepted as a true brother? Well, as we mentioned before, they need to pass the vibe check more than anything. After all, you are going to dedicate your life to this club.
Even you need to make sure that you like the members of the club. These people who are still on the waiting list are called the hang-around. The hang-around interns are invited to every event to get a taste of what they are in for.
How do you get promoted from the hang around the stage? You need to show them that you in for the long run. Showing up for every event and helping the team with all the errands is a good start.
They will observe you for as long as they please and then promote you to an associate. When you are promoted to an associate, you are now one step closer to the club. You get assigned more responsibilities, and you need to step up your game.
More steps to climb
Yes, there are more promotions till you reach closer to the club. After you clear the stage of a hang around and an associate, you become a prospect. In this stage, you are still not allowed to have any voting rights, but you can be a part of the meetings and see how things go about.
For all these stages, there is no fixed time for promotion. If you gain the trust of the members easily, it hardly takes any time before you are a full member of the club. The prospects are also allowed to have their cuts with a few patches.
Bearing through the pain
The entire process of becoming a full member is not easy. At times you may feel like you do not belong to the group. You are not allowed to attend any meetings, and the jobs assigned to you are not all that favorable.
But this is a true test of your character and your willingness to be a part of this brotherhood. If they cannot pass through simple tests like these, it means they will not pull through when a brother is in trouble. So you need to buckle up and take up all the challenges in every promotion you get.
Sealing the deal
After you pull through all the difficulties, you will finally start to feel that the group has accepted you. Though there will be a formal voting system, you will understand yourself when the other members treat you like their own.
The first hint that you are in the club is that you will be taken to the nearby charters to introduce yourself. Traveling around is almost like sealing the deal as a permanent member. The dedication during this period is what seals the deal.
When the day comes when you are finally voted in, there is a grand ceremony held. It is, however, important to get a hundred percent of the votes. Even if one person in the brotherhood disagrees, the person is not permitted to be a part of the Hells Angeles.
On the day of the ceremony, the member is presented with a patch that reads Hells Angles along with the logo. This new member is celebrated, and he can wear the complete gear with pride.
Climbing up high
If you think the process is over, you are just getting started. You are now a full member, but it is time for you to start earning badges and rising higher on the rank. These badges are maintained with a lot of respect, and it means more to them than anything else.
For example, rumor has it that the patch named Filthy Few is for members who happened to murder a person from another rival club. There are patches for various things like resisting an arrest etc.
Many other biker clubs were established right after World War II. Many of them carry the same rules and regulations as the Hells Angels. The club takes notice of such groups and observes them closely.
Since they like expanding their territory as much as possible, they extend an invitation to like-minded clubs to be a part of them. This process is termed patching over. Of course, even these members are taken in with full consent from all the members of the club.
When a member passes
Once you are a member of the Hells Angels, there is no backing out or retirement as such. No matter what your age is, you are welcome to attend all the events of the club.
This brotherhood is more than a family and will take care of you whether you are alive or dead. In case a family member passes, the Hells Angels will give you goodbye like no other. They will honor every memory of you with the entire charter.
The memory always lasts
The brothers of the club ensure the memory of the person stays alive long after they are gone. The closer you are to them, the longer you will be cherished. If a young member happens to fall, the effort to keep their memory alive is taken more seriously. Once a twenty-one-year-old member had passed, and the entire club was there with his mother during the mourning.
They joined her whenever she would come to pray for his soul. Seeing their dedication, his mother handed over one of his bracelets to the club, and they ride wearing it even to this day.
Gossip about another family member is strictly prohibited. Their website also states that you cannot extract any information from the members. Just like any other family, they keep their secrets to themselves.
If any member is caught spilling beans about another brother, they are terminated from the club immediately. So you can trust every brother with your darkest secrets, and it will be safe with them. There is a lot that goes on with the members, and this rule keeps things sane within the family.
The media is very good in trying to frame a person or an organization to get their channels running. Because of this, they have an internal rule about making any public comments about another person.
The members are also not allowed to talk about the details of their codes. Sometimes the code is also used for security purposes, and giving this out is a violation of their privacy. Many are waiting to bring this empire down, and the brotherhood is not going to allow that.
The bizarre part is that even if a member of the club goes missing, they are not liable to make any comments to assist the police in finding out. They have often faced such situations, and this is the sole reason why law and enforcement are not allowed to be a part of the club.
The club has no proof that they know of any information about a missing person. This one makes us think a bit about how many people went missing from the club and why?
A black dot
But not every person on this plant is washed in gold. So they will be someone who will try and give away the secrets of this large organization of brothers. A journalist came along by the name of Hunter S. Thompson.
He did everything to try and fit in with the gang. He dedicated his life to this and did every task that was given by the members. But he was doing this only for his gain. Everything was fine until he had a fallout with the club. He got involved in a fight between a husband and his wife. After this fallout, he even wrote a book revealing many secrets about the club. Naturally, the Hells Angels sued him, but they could not get anything out of it.