It's no surprise that the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club is notoriously ruthless. And they've been made even more famous not from any sort of high profile assassinations or drug busts. Nope. All they needed was Sons of Anarchy. And as the Angels will have people believe, the idea for that show was stolen by a former Angel anyway. So they do well enough in terms of publicity, without having to kill anyone.
You may not know this, but the Angels are much more than an infamously violent, and racist biker gang. They actually run legitimate businesses (much like the mafia), and they do quite a bit of charity work. And also much like the mafia, they have a hand in many countries all over the world. They are now a global biker gang.
So it shouldn't be a shock to anyone that they've rubbed shoulders with some rather prominent people. They were good buddies with Toronto's former crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford. They were overbearing guests of George Harrison, and The Beatles. They worked security for the Rolling Stones. And they seemed to really love Jerry Garcia. Read on to learn some more about this biker club.
15 It All Began At The End Of The War
There are all manner of stories that the Hell's Angels was started by a number of World War II vets. There are good reasons for this, of course. There was a bomber unit called the Hell's Angels. And the group was formed as far back as 1948. But the original membership had nearly nothing to do with servicemen, and no member of the original bomber unit. In fact, it was a member of the Flying Tigers unit that gave the founding members the suggestion to call the gang the Hell's Angels. But that man was not himself a member. So if someone ever tries to tell you that the infamous biker gang was started by a bunch of former WWII bomber men, you can set them straight about that misinformation. Who doesn't love knowing some useless information about a notorious biker gang?
14 The Beatles Invited Them To Party In The UK
There was a time when George Harrison met with members of the biker club when he was in the States. He apparently told them to look him up if ever they made it to the U.K. Well that happened. There was meant to be a mob of bikers showing up at the Apple Records space. The company paid the duty on 17 bikes entering the country (though many of the members were turned away due to criminal charges back in the U.S.). Anyhow, that didn't stop from club hangers on from showing up with the couple of bikers who made it through. They overstayed their welcome, and were present for a big Apple Records feast, where they tore apart a 40 pound turkey, leaving nothing for The Beatles, or the company workers. It took a bit of round about hippie talk from Harrison to finally get them to leave. And Harrison (who invited them) didn't even attend the party!
13 Drugs And Sex Slaves In Canada
This is where things turn pretty dark in terms of the Hell's Angels. And this is why, in reality, they are a gang and not a club. This biker gang is responsible for about 90% of both the drugs, and the sex trade in Canada. And when I say sex trade, I don't mean high end escorts. I mean underage girls who are drugged, beaten, raped, and forced to service the bikers before being pimped out to Joe-blow-scuzzbag on the street. And there have been some pretty small town across Canada that have found HA-forced sex slaves. And thankfully some of them have been freed. But most will not speak out against the gang (for fear of harm coming to them or their families). And in terms of drugs, the Angels push out a good deal of date-rape, so even if they don't push their own slaves on people, the lowlifes can drug their own victims...Disgusting.
12 Security For The Rolling Stones...
Once upon a time, The Rolling Stones, for some ungodly reason, hired the Hell's Angels to work security for a free concert. Bad enough that the concert was free, because it was absolutely swamped with people. But then, in addition, The Stones didn't pay the Angels in cash...they paid in beer. Imagine a swath of burly biker guys just getting ripped while doing security for a concert. Of course the inevitable happened. All sorts of beatings went on...and four audience members actually died. One actually stabbed by a member of the motorcycle club. It's safe to assume that all four were deaths thanks to the club, but the stabbing was particularly brutal. And it didn't help that “security” walked around with clubs in hand, just in case they needed to put the audience in line. Allegedly the Angels subsequently put a hit out on Mick Jagger, but there's no substantial evidence for that.
11 They Successfully Sued Disney!
Yeah, the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club decided to sue Disney, of all companies. Why, you might be very justified in asking? Because of the film Wild Hogs. The main reason for the suit is because of the uncredited use of the Hell's Angels logo, and name. The whole basis of the film is a bunch of guys who are not really bikers...trying to get in good with the club...for some reason that isn't ultimately clear. To be fair to the Angels, Disney did not ask permission at all for the use of the club's brand or name, so they did have a solid case (and were successful of course). I personally think the main reason for the lawsuit was because they didn't want to see Tim Allen, William H. Macy, John Travolta, and Martin Lawrence trying to be bikers. Though Ray Liotta was a good choice.
10 Hell's Angels In Turkey?
This motorcycle club never ceases to amaze me. It turns out that the Hell's Angels have even branched into Muslim territory. And I don't know if it seems odd to anyone else, but it comes across as strange to think of these strictly white male, leather-clad, bikers rolling through the streets of Turkey, being perfectly safe. It really does seem odd. And yet, in 2009, Turkey was the very first Muslim country to gain itself a Hell's Angels charter. Like Namibia, there must be a decent amount of burly, white, biker boys who really just want to mess around with the ways things are there. Given the tensions around the world, I'm surprised we've yet to hear of biker violence in Turkey...or bikes being blown up. I think more HA members get injured or killed in Canada than they do in Turkey...
9 The Bomber Unit
It was assumed that the very first members of the HA biker club were former members of the Hell's Angels Bomber B-17 unit. As the media often loves to sensationalize, and make connections where there aren't any, they then linked these servicemen to the creation of the biker gang to keep up a life of adventure. Coming back from war, they realized that their life had very little left for them to be excited about. What's interesting is that even the MC Hell's Angels are fully willing to admit that the bombermen of WWII could not have been the adventure seeking drunkards who started the motorcycle club. Even they admit that these servicemen were far more disciplined, and on the level than the rowdy bunch that have become the HAMC.
8 Don't Ever Call Them A "Gang"... It's A Motorcycle Club
One thing you might want to think about avoiding saying if ever you find yourself near a member of the Angels? Don't call them gang members. Don't say they are part of a gang. They've probably killed people for less. But this is a big deal to them. The Hell's Angels are a motorcycle club. Not a gang. This is often how they manage to avoid any sort of trouble with the law. They are able to organize, gather together, have regular meetings, big and official parties, and not get busted because it's just a club getting together. It's like the Elks club or the Knights of Colombus...except with Harleys, and more often than not drugs and violence. But this is perhaps one of the most important things to them, other than people pretending to be bikers (because they'll kick your ass for both).
7 It's Not Easy To Roll With The Angels
First off, do you have a bike? Is it a good bike? Is it a chopper, a hog, or a crotch rocket? Guaranteed you're not getting in if you show up in the latter (you'll just get your ass kicked). But this club is much more than just having a nice bike, and going to meetings. Your bike has to be your life. You have to ride at least 20,000km every year on it. In addition to that, you have to be a white male. And considering the number of countries that the club extends into, it's surprising this has stayed a rule. But there it is: the club is racist, and sexist. If you have these requirements, you then have to show you can hang around for a while, before you can be considered an associate (where you help set up parties...or do other jobs for the guys). And if a “patched” biker likes you, then maybe you can be their b*tch for a while before you're given your patch.
6 They're Everywhere!
It's true! The Hell's Angels are just scattered all over the globe. There are 444 charters in 56 different countries, on six of the seven continents of the world. And that doesn't include the prospect nations that don't have full charters yet. Right now, both Albania and Namibia are vying to be HA countries. I guess there are a lot of white South Africans in Namibia who want to start a charter. What's crazy is that tiny countries like Cyprus, Liechtenstein, and the Canary Islands already have their own charters! In addition to that, Colombia, Paraguay, and Bolivia are considered “hang-around” countries, which feature smaller biker clubs that are associated with the Hell's Angels in one way or another. Kosovo, Montenegro, Belarus, and Moldova are perhaps the only European countries that have yet to associate with the club.
5 Strength And Confusion In Numbers
Obviously there are members of the club all over the place, but there is not just strength in their numbers. There are also specific meanings to the numbers found on the jackets, and tattoos of club members. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding number. For example: A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on. So the number 81 is very important to the group, as it represents H, and A: standing for Hell's Angels. 13 is also apparently a significant number, but not taken separately. It's both used to identify people who are members (as the 13th letter of the alphabet is M), and also to identify those who smoke marijuana. Surely you can see how easily one might get confused. And it doesn't end there. There are often all manner of numbers decorating an Angel's leathers, and or skin.
4 Official Website
The Hell's Angels have a wide variety of fan sites, to be sure. Since after the debut of Sons of Anarchy everyone seemed to want to be a biker. But many of the well over 400 club charters have their own official websites. And of course, the club itself, including its many members in over 50 countries, has a singular and official website for the club. This website keeps non members up to date on the history, merchandise, big upcoming events, and locations of the many charters, prospects, and hangers on. It's actually a wonder that this biker gang...sorry, biker club has any time to commit any crimes at all given the vast number of events that are advertised on their site. There is a party every other day, somewhere in the world, for the whole summer. Including a drive-in showing of Grease. Which is just adorable.
3 Rob Ford - Toronto's Crack-Smoking Mayor
Some of you may recall the news coverage of a man named Rob Ford. For a number of years, Ford was the mayor of the city of Toronto. He got into a lot of trouble when he was caught on film both smoking crack, and making a good number of racist comments. Two things that the Hell's Angels obviously love. And given that the HA reach in Ontario is pretty wide, it's no surprise that Ford had dealings with the gang. At a Buffalo Bills game in Toronto, Ford had his picture taken with two patched members of the HA, and one prospect as well. He swears that he didn't know them, and that he took pictures with everyone who asked that day at the game...so ultimately you can decide if this booze-hound-crack-smoking-joke-of-a-former-mayor actually new the boys or not.
2 Support With Merchandise! ... But Don't
I wouldn't recommend this by any stretch of the imagination, but there are websites all over that feature all sorts of merch relating to the Hell's Angels. They don't want to see you pretending to be one of them (and if they find you with a phoney patch on, they will beat and/or kill you...for real). But they do want to see you supporting them. And there are some many guys out there who wish they could be as cool as they are. And so many gals out there who wish they could have a man like that. But they're stuck in some fantasy world in their mind. Because when it comes down to it, this biker gang is a bunch of criminals who just know how to play the system to narrowly escape the law. And they know just how to market to the young and disillusioned, so that they have global support. Because they can't stand on their own.
1 At Least They're Charitable
No matter what these infamous, and awful gang members do, they do have one saving grace. At least it's something they use as a saving grace when in the media, or in court. It is true that the Angels do a whole Hell of a lot of charity work. They do toy drives, and big bike rallies for cancer research...they are all over the place when it comes to charity. Surely a number of their members have died of cancer, and not just bullets or beatings. So that makes sense. And many of them have kids. But the charity work is sort of undercut by the knowledge that they take girls who are still kids, and force them into the sex trade. Maybe they should stop to think about what if it was their little girl (though in some cases it probably is).