“The hard core, the outlaw elite, were the Hell’s Angels… wearing the winged death’s-head on the back of their sleeveless jackets and packing their ‘mamas’ behind them on big ‘chopped hogs.’ They rode with a fine unwashed arrogance, secure in their reputation as the rottenest motorcycle gang in the whole history of Christendom.”

–Hunter S. Thompson – Hell’s Angels 1966

Hunter S. Thompson’s epic images of Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members

“We’re the one percenters, man — the ones who don’t fit and don’t care.  So don’t talk to me about your doctor bills and your traffic warrants — I mean you get your woman and your bike and your banjo and I mean your on your way.  We’ve punched our way out of a hundred rumbles, stayed alive with our boots and our fists.  We’re royalty among motorcycle outlaws, baby.”

–A Hell’s Angel speaking for the permanent record

Hunter S. Thompson’s epic images of Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members

“Some of them are pure animals. They’d be animals in any society. These guys are outlaw types who should have been born a hundred years ago– when they would have been gunfighters.”

–Birney Jarvis, a charter member of the Hell’s Angels who later became a San Francisco Chronicle police reporter

Hunter S. Thompson’s epic images of Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members

“They’re not bad guys, individually. I tell you one thing– I’d rather have a bunch of Hell’s Angels on my hands than these civil rights demonstrators. When it comes to making trouble for us, the demonstrators are much worse.”

–Jailer, San Francisco City Prison

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well… maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson’s epic images of Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members


  1. Hell’s Angels is a book I go back to every once in while, I’m a big HST fan and it’s interesting to read the first nascent stirrings of the gonzo style.

    I also don’t think he gets enough credit for the straight up reporting job he does in it. He digs out the police reports, goes to the sources and dispels a lot of the rubbish that was being written about the HA at the time in a clear methodical manner.

    Loving your blog

    • Thanks Chris–

      You’re right, he dug deep and went underground– and ultimately got his ass kicked for it.

      I love the footage at the end– as canned as it is, it’s still priceless as pure entertainment.

      Enjoy the Holidays,


      • No, he got his ass kicked because he let his alligator mouth write a check he couldn’t cash with his f’n hummingbird ass!!! Than he ran to the cops? The trademark act of a true punk!


  3. Such a fantastic post! the quotes you chose are perfect. And the pics are stellar. Hunter S. Thompson is such a huge writing inspiration to me. Hope you have a Merry Christmas JP 🙂

  4. Thompson cited Faulkner, and I think, Nelson Algren as the best writers on what “white trash” was all about, then proceded to write the finest exposition ever.

  5. Ok I commented elsewhere just now but I have to say I LOVE your blog. I am supposed to be writing a huge thesis paper but diving into your archives was far more exciting. Hours later and I’m convinced we have the same interests. Very well researched and amazing photos! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be coming back daily.


  6. Ok, maybe it’s because I’m such a Bad Ass, but there is something that intrigues me about these guys. I just watched a season of “Sons of Anarchy” with my wife and I admit…I want more. To just ride and live life one day (or fight) at a time, what a dream. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to run into any of these guys (I wouldn’t want to hurt any of them) but I’m very intrigued. Great post JP. Keep ’em coming.

  7. Unfortunately I don’t have what it takes or I would be a HA. I am honest to myself, I know this……too bad Hunter wasn’t honest enough to know who to exploit and who to leave be…but he does have a talent, and his style many people like….

    HA’s have laws that are not anyone elses, but their own. Animals some people call them! I just want to say go to some bike runs where the HA’s are, meet them, ask them anything. The HA’s go by the old biker club rules, unlike so many clubs now who get gang members in their clubs just to do the killing, these types of members usually do not even own a bike, nor have an interest in riding. The center is the bike, God rides a bike, no one says no to Him! You see?
    Ride on HA’s! May freedom come with a vengence, love come with an escort from Johnny Walker, and your back be covered when fighting… by your brothers!


    • HA are criminals now. Back then they were merely thugs. What they had were nice bikes. But they still things.

  8. Ew, my face was even more busted than his a couple weeks ago, I got beat up by a concrete stair! My first shiner yay

  9. I’ve met a few HA’s in the past and I have to say that they keep to themselves. I respect how they will not back down to anything and stand there ground. When I was young kid, I remember playing with their kids…lot’s of fights but always ended up friends afterwards.

    I could not live their way of life, but of all the MC’s out there, I truly respect the HA’s the most. They rarely if at all give interviews to outsiders. HA’s Forever!

  10. Sonny Barger wrote that he and the other HAs thought HST was a coward. They laughed at him and made fun of him and scared him. HST built up his career on a lotta BS and lies.

  11. I knew Skip Workman (the Hells Angel in the video with HST) back in the ’70’s after he’d moved from California. Were in a bar, him and I with two friends, and two guys got up from the bar and came to our table and wanted to start a fight. They started on Skip. They didn’t seem to care about the other three of us. Skip didn’t want to fight, he wasn’t that kind of person. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t though. There was us four against them two, but he still didn’t want to fight. As these guys kept up I saw a tear come from Skip’s eye. He just wanted to leave, so we left. When we got outside Skip saw the car that belonged to the guy that was causing the trouble inside. So he opened the guys car door and pissed all over his seat. Remmeber, he’s still a Hells Angel.

  12. I lived next to Skip up in Maine in the 70’s.
    He let me borrow his wolf/dog, “Rommel”, for
    Good people !

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