HUNTER S. THOMPSON | HELL’S ANGELS

 

“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

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KEITH RICHARDS & GRAM PARSONS 1971 | SUMMER IN EXILE @ VILLA NELLCOTE

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In the summer of ’71, The Rolling Stones, seeking shelter from their UK tax woes, exiled to the South of France.  Keith Richards set up house with Anita Pallenberg and their son Marlon in Villa Nellcôte— a 16 room waterfront mansion that once served as Gestapo headquarters for the Nazis during WWII.  The infamy continued with it now best remembered among rock fans as the grand flop-house where Exile On Main Street was recorded.

French photographer Dominique Tarle chronicled perhaps the most notorious house party ever, and had full access to goings-on over a period of six crazy months.  He later recounted to the New York Times– ”They built a studio in the basement of Keith’s house because the band knew it would be easiest for Keith,” says Dominique Tarlé, who had an all-access pass inside the villa for six months. “Engineers and technicians slept over, illegal power lines from the French railway system juiced their instruments, and when the temperature hit 100, they rehearsed with their pants off.  A carnival of characters paraded through– Terry Southern, Gram Parsons, John Lennon, even a tribal band from Bengal… dope dealers from Marseille; petty thieves, who stole most of the drugs and half the furniture; and hangers-on, all of them there to witness what was happening.”

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Keith Richards & Gram Parsons

Keith Richards & Gram Parsons

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ED “BIG DADDY” ROTH | RAT FINK KING OF SOUTH CALI KUSTOM KAR KULTURE

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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

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Probably best known for his iconic “Rat Fink” cartoon creation (I’m personally not a fan of Rat Fink, or any rat for that matter…) Ed “Big Daddy” Roth (3/4/32 – 4/4/01) is synonymous with SoCal’s Kustom Kulture & Hot Rod craze of the late 1950s & 60s.   He had a deep bag of tricks– an all around renaissance man skilled as a barber, cartoonist, display merchant for Sears, and expert auto painter / customizer.   He’d been to school for auto engineering and served a stint in the Air Force from 1951-’55. After the service, Roth supported the wife and five kids workin’ for the man at Sears– until ’58 when Roth finally opened-up shop full-time (working with “The Baron” and his grandson Kelly) and was well on his way to stardom. Insane fiberglass bodywork, and intricate custom paint jobs were his speciality. Legendary Kustom Kulture contemporaries of Ed Roth’s included Sam & George Barris, Dean Jeffries, and Kenny Howard, AKA Von Dutch.

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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's business card

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's business card

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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth on a custom Harley-Davidson chopper.

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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's shop

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's custom shop --Roth Studios.

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ed roth sticker

"SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FUZZ" --Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

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ICONIC AMERICAN IMAGES BY DANNY LYON | THE BIKERIDERS AND BEYOND

ohio river danny lyon

“Crossing the Ohio River” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1966

In the 1960s & 70s, writer and photographer Danny Lyon made a name for himself covering the Southern Civil Rights movement, and  went on to give the world 3 incredible works– The Bikeriders, in which he chronicles his travels as a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, documenting the large-scale demolition of our country’s greatest city back in 1967, and Conversations with the Dead in which he photographs and writes about Texas inmatess in 6 different prisons, Billy McCune in particular, over 14 months time. Danny Lyon’s images are iconic, and he is considered by many as the gold standard for motorcycle photography to this day.

“If ‘The Wild One’ were filmed today, Marlon Brando and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would all have to wear helmets. I used to be afraid that when (Hells) Angels became movie stars and Cal the hero of the book, the bikerider would perish on the coffee tables of America. But now I think that this attention doesn’t have the strength of reality of the people it aspires to know, and that as long as Harley-Davidsons are manufactured other bikeriders will appear, riding unknown and beautiful through Chicago, into the streets of Cicero.” –Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon The Bikeriders

“Cal, Elkhorn, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

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"Route 12, Wisconsin" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon.

“Route 12, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1963

from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon

“Racer, Schererville, Indiana” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"From Lindsey's room, Louisville" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1966.

“From Lindsey’s room, Louisville” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1966

"Racers, McHenry, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Racers, McHenry, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Goodpaster, Hobart, Indiana" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Goodpaster, Hobart, Indiana” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Field meet, Long Island, New York" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Field meet, Long Island, New York” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66.

"Racers, McHenry, Illinois" from the Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Racers, McHenry, Illinois” from the Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"Broken gear box spring, New Orleans" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Broken gear box spring, New Orleans” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Torello Tachhi's back, Loudon, New Hampshire" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Torello Tachhi’s back, Loudon, New Hampshire” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Seventeenth Annual World's Largest Motorcycle Blessing, St. Christopher Shrine, Midlothian, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon.

“Seventeenth Annual World’s Largest Motorcycle Blessing, St. Christopher Shrine, Midlothian, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon

"Corky at home" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Corky at home” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Jack, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Jack, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

New York Eddie's, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“New York Eddie’s, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Andy, meeting at the the Stoplight, Cicero, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa

“Andy, meeting at the the Stoplight, Cicero, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"From Dayton to Columbus, Ohio" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“From Dayton to Columbus, Ohio” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Memorial Day run, Milwaukee" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon   --circa 1965-66.

“Memorial Day run, Milwaukee” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Brucie, his CH, and Crazy Charlie, McHenry, Illinois"  from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Brucie, his CH, and Crazy Charlie, McHenry, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Cal, Springfield, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Cal, Springfield, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Big Barbara, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Big Barbara, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Outlaw camp, Elkhorn, Wisconsin" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Outlaw camp, Elkhorn, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Clubhouse during the Columbus run, Dayton, Ohio"  from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Clubhouse during the Columbus run, Dayton, Ohio” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Funny Sonny packing with Zipco, Milwaukee" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Funny Sonny packing with Zipco, Milwaukee” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Chopper, Milwaukee" fro The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Chopper, Milwaukee” fro The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon, ca. © 1965-66

Four boys, Uptown, Chicago" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1968.

“Four boys, Uptown, Chicago” Pictures from The New World by © Danny Lyon, 1968

"Three young men, Uptown, Chicago" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Three young men, Uptown, Chicago” Pictures from The New World by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"Chevrolet Nueva Casas Grande, Chuhuahua, Mexico" from The Paper Negative by Danny Lyon  --1975.

“Chevrolet Nueva Casas Grande, Chuhuahua, Mexico” from The Paper Negative by © Danny Lyon, 1975

"Truck in the Desert, Yuma, California" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1962.

“Truck in the Desert, Yuma, California” Pictures from the New World by © Danny Lyon, 1962

"New arrivals from Corpus Christi" from Conversations with the Dead by Danny Lyon  --circa 1967-68.

“New arrivals from Corpus Christi” from Conversations with the Dead by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1967-68

"Hoe sharpener and the Line" from Conversations with the Dead by Danny Lyon  --circa 1967-68.

“Hoe sharpener and the Line” from Conversations with the Dead by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1967-68

"Young man, Hyde Park, Chicago" from Toward a Social Landscape by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Young man, Hyde Park, Chicago” from Toward a Social Landscape by © Danny Lyon, 1965

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RALPH “SONNY” BARGER | AN OUTLAW’S TALE OF HARLEYS, HIGHWAYS & HELL

 

Sonny Barger

Sonny Barger aboard his 80-inch Harley stroker with high bars and long tailpipies, 1959. This bike design was considered pretty progressive for it’s time.

Ralph “Sonny” Barger, long considered the Godfather of the Hells Angels MC (having  started the original Oakland chapter) is definitely an original “one percenter” if there ever was one.  There’s a lot of very interesting history behind Sonny and the Hells Angels that I can’t post, so if you’re itching for more, check out his books.  Here’s a little collection of pics, along with some of Sonny’s personal accounts on his life and times, and the history of the club– and be sure to check out the vintage Hells Angels video at the end of the post.

From Sonny Barger’s autobiography–

“When I saw The Wild One, Lee Marvin instantly became my hero. Lee’s character, Chino, was my man. Marlon Brando as Johnny was the bully. His boys rode Triumphs and BSAs and wore uniforms. Lee’s attitude was ‘If you f*ck with me, I’ll hit you back.’ Lee and his boys were riding f*cked-up Harleys and Indians. I certainly saw more of Chino in me than Johnny. I still do.”

Sonny Barger of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Sonny Barger of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

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hamc sonny barger

 

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(Photo caption above) Ralph “Sonny” Barger, (C, front row), President of the Hell’s Angels Oakland chapter, announces at a press conference that the notorious California motorcycle gang would not stage a demonstration 11/20 against anti-Viet Nam marchers. Oct. 16th, during a VDC march through Berkeley, several of the club broke through police barricades and assaulted several demonstrators. Barger said his group was calling off its plans because the marchers “may provoke us to violence.” LTR: Top, Tiny Walters, (L), Ron Jacobson. Seated, Skip Workman, Barger, and Tom Thomas. Oakland, CA  –November 19, 1965.

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SOUL ON BIKES & BLACK CHROME | THE HISTORY OF BLACK AMERICA’S MOTORCYCLE CULTURE

Growing-up in and around Harley biker culture, there was never any talk of African American riders– let alone that may actually have a part in contributing to American motorcycling culture. It was like Black riders flat-out didn’t exist. Now finally, their incredible story is starting to emerge through books like Soul On Bikes and the Black Chrome exhibit at California African American Museum. The images and accounts are not just amazing to look at and enjoy– they are also incredibly inspiring.  Many thanks to The Vintagent (one of my favorite blogs) and The Onyx Rider from which many of the pics & stories came.

East Bay Dragons Motorcycle Club

East Bay Dragons Motorcycle Club– circa 1960s.

When Sonny Barger formed the Oakland Hells Angels in 1957, a few miles up East 14th Street in East Oakland, a young black bike rider from Louisiana named Tobie Gene Levingston was soon to follow in his footsteps. The two knew and respected each other, and had ridden their Harleys together in the same East Bay neighborhood.

In 1959, Tobie Gene organized the Dragons, a loosely knit, all-black men’s club, one of the first of its kind. The dragon’s earliest incarnation began as an all-black car club and originally stemmed from Tobie Gene’s big brother role to keep his younger brothers and friends occupied and out of trouble. The Dragons became ten strong, including members like MacArthur, Hooker, Tobie’s brothers Joe Louis and Jonas, Baby Joe, Sam and Cousin Rabbit. Tobie Gene became the East Bay Dragons MCs first and only president, still reigning and riding after forty-four years.

soul on bikes the east bay dragons and the black biker set book

 

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THE LEGEND OF SAILOR JERRY | TATTOO MASTER NORMAN COLLINS

 

sailor jerry tattoos

If you don’t know who Sailor Jerry is– you don’t know tattoos. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins (1911-1973) is considered the foremost American tattoo artist of his time, and defined the craft in two eras– BSJ and ASJ (before and after Sailor Jerry). Arguably, he did more for the ancient art of tattoo than most any other single person.

sailor jerry tattoos anchor

At age 19, Sailor Jerry enlisted in the US Navy. It was during his travels at sea that he was exposed to the art and imagery of Southeast Asia. Artistically, his influence stems from his union of the roguish attitude of the American sailor with the mysticism and technical prowess of the Far East. He maintained a close correspondence with Japanese tattoo masters during his career.

sailor jerry tattoos cards

Sailor Jerry regarded tattoos as the ultimate rebellion against “the Squares”. His legendary sense of humor is oft reflected in his work– but he was never one to compromise his professionalism or take his craft and responsibilities lightly.

sailor jerry tattoos eagle

Sailor Jerry’s first studio was in Honolulu’s Chinatown, then the only place on the island where tattoo studios were located. His work was so widely copied, he had to print “The Original Sailor Jerry” on his business cards. There’s a guy up in Canada that goes by the same name, but don’t be fooled– although he’s good in his own right, he ain’t the original Sailor Jerry.

sailor jerry tattoo

Sailor Jerry remained a sailor his entire life. Even during his career as a tattoo artist, he worked as licensed skipper of a large three-masted schooner, on which he conducted tours of the Hawaiian islands. Sailing and tattooing were his only two professional endeavors.

sailor jerry tattoos bottle

Sailor Jerry went out of his way to mentor those tattoo artists whose talents and attitude he respected, among them tattoo legends Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, to whom he entrusted his legacy of flash designs. He also railed against flashy tattoo artists such as Lyle Tuttle, and what he called “hippie tattoo” culture.

sailor jerry tattoos sparrow

From his 20s to his late 50s, he stopped tattooing entirely as a part of a disagreement with the IRS. Believe it or not, Sailor Jerry only tattooed for approximately 12 years.

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sailor jerry tattoos pinup babes

In 1999, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone partnered with an independent Philadelphia company to establish Sailor Jerry Ltd., which produces rum, clothing and other goods. Some say that Ed Hardy sold his old mentor, Sailor Jerry, up the river– taking much credit for Jerry’s style and pocketing the dough. Sailor Jerry (and Von Dutch alike)  may be rolling in his grave.

sailor jerry tattoos care

Originally there were few colors available to tattoo artists– Sailor Jerry expanded the array by developing his own safe pigments. He also created needle formations that embedded pigment with much less trauma to the skin, and was one of the first to utilize single-use needles and hospital-quality sterilization.

norman collins sailor jerry tattoos

Tattooing legend Norman Collins AKA Sailor Jerry

sailor jerry tattoos norman collins photo

Tattooing legend Norman Collins AKA Sailor Jerry

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