Obituary of a legend


Text: Middelboe - Photo: Scott ”Scotty” Grow HAMC Oakland & Archives

In the summer of 2022, one of the biker world's biggest personalities passed away. When Sonny Barger, member of the Hells Angels Motorcyleclub Oakland charter, had to give up the fight against cancer at the age of 83. His 65 years as an active biker leaves a legacy that will live decades into the future. Any biker with even a modicum of self-respect knows who Sonny is/was.



On September 24, 2022, Sonny's funeral took place at Stockton 99 Speedway in California. More than 7,000 guests attended the funeral. Everyone had to register in advance, which had been necessary as there was "limited" space and many wanted to participate.


Tucker Carlson (An American TV host on Fox News - writer and columnist, among many other things)


One of the invited speakers was Tucker Carlson (An American TV host on Fox News - writer and columnist, among many other things). He quoted Sonny: "Stand tall, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor." and continued: "I want to pay tribute to the man who spoke those words." and added: "The president of the United States should be saying that, every single morning as he salutes the flag, but only Sonny Barger is saying it."




Ralph Hubert Barger, Jr. was born in Modesto, California, on October 8, 1938, the son of Kathryn Carmella (nee Ritch) and Ralph Hubert Barger. His father had German and Dutch ancestry and his mother was of Italian descent. His mother left the family when Barger was four months old, leaving him and his older sister Shirley to be raised by their grandmother and father. Growing up, Barger was suspended from school several times for assaulting teachers. He dropped out of school in the tenth grade. He enlisted in the US Army at the age of sixteen in 1955, receiving an honorable discharge fourteen months later when it was discovered that he had forged his birth certificate. After returning from the army, Barger worked between different jobs and lived with his father, later moving in with his sister and her children.



Sonny joined his first motorcycle club, the Oakland Panthers, in 1956. After the club disbanded, he began riding with another club, with a back path – a skull wearing an aviator cap with wings – They formed their own club called the Hells Angels on April 1, 1957. Sonny and the Oakland Hells Angels MC were unaware at the time that there were several other clubs using the same name in California.

With Barger as president, the Oakland Hells Angels traveled to Southern California and merged with the other Hells Angels motorcycle clubs, forming joint club rules. When Otto Friedli, the founder of the original San Bernardino Hells Angels MC charter Berdoo (1948), was imprisoned in 1958, Sonny was named national president.



Sonny and the Hells Angels MC appeared in several films in the 60s.

Here, i.a. mentioned:

The Wild Angels (1966)

Hell's Angels On Wheels (1967)

Hell's Angels 69 (1969)

Sonny also made an autobiography in 2001, where he talks frankly about his life.



He married his fourth wife, Zorana (née Katzakian), on June 25, 2005. Sonny remained married to Zorana until his death on June 29, 2022. He had no biological children.


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