The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is one of the largest one percenter motorcycle clubs in the world, with a presence in many countries including the United States of America, Canada, Australia and throughout Europe. They are part of the “Big 4” outlaw motorcycle gangs alongside the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, Outlaws Motorcycle Club and Bandidos Motorcycle Club. View the full list of Hells Angels Charters.
They are no relation to the Scotland founded one percenter motorcycle club, Blue Angels MC.
Hells Angels MC History
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club were founded by the Bishop family in 1948, who were then joined by former members of many other different motorcycle clubs including the well known Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington, who were involved in the Hollister Riot along with other clubs including the Boozefighters MC.
The name of “Hells Angels” originated from the Flying Tigers “Hell’s Angels” squadron which served in China in World War II. The name was suggested to the motorcycle club by Arvid Olsen, who was an associate of the founding members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Probably one of the most famous Hells Angels would be Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger, who was the founding member of the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and took over the role of National President from Otto Friedli when he went to prison. As he is one of the most famous Hells Angels he is often confused as being the founder of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. View our list of the most famous Hells Angels members.
Hunter S Thompson wrote about the Hells Angels in his 1967 publication “Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs”. For this book he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club where he was able to experience the club and stories first hand. It is was this book that launched Hunter S Thompson’s career.
While they are known as one of the big one percenter motorcycle clubs, it is important to note that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, as an organization, distance themselves from any criminal activity and advise that they are purely an organization who brings together motorcycle enthusiasts and hosts events. Having said that, there are many individual Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members who have been convicted of crimes worldwide including murder and drugs charges.
Hells Angels Charters
Although the Hells Angels MC were formed in the United States, the motorcycle club has chapters throughout the world. There is said to be potentially several hundred chapters of the Hells Angels spread over more than 30 countries. View the list of Hells Angels Charters.
A spread to Europe of Hells Angels charters happened in the late 1960’s when chapters opened in London, England.
A big spread occurred in Canada started in 1977 when they patched over Popeyes MC who were led by Yves Buteau, he then became the Hells Angels Canadian National President. They later entered major turf wars including the Quebec Biker War which ran from 1994 until 2002 in Montreal, Canada which raged against several other clubs including Rock Machine MC. In 1997 the Hells Angels patched over the Grim Reapers MC, resulting in the Hells Angels Edmonton and Calgary chapters, which were the 13th and 14th Hells Angels chapters in Canada. On 29 December, 2000 the Hells Angels patched over the Canadian based Satan’s Choice MC, Lobos MC, Loners MC and the Para-Dice Riders MC.
Hells Angels Patch Meanings
In the early days of the club in the 1940’s and 1950’s the various chapters were often unaware of the existence of other chapters and often used different versions of the “Death’s Head” patch. Members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club also wear the Hells Angels 1% patch (one percenter patch). There are other patches, or badges, also worn by members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which are believed to signify achievements. There is much rumour and speculation about what these achievements could be, however no clear evidence.
Any reference to “81” sometimes seen worn by friends of the Hells Angels MC is in relation to the letters “H” and “A” (“H”ells “A”ngels), the 8th and 1st letters of the alphabet. Actual references to official club logos is limited to members.
The official Hells Angels colors are red lettering on a white background. This also links up with their nickname of “The Red and White”. The patches are worn on leather or denim jackets and vests. A rectangular shaped patch is the most common shape worn by members with a white background and red lettering and red border identifying their chapter location.
Members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club may also choose to wear a badge with the initials “AFFA”, which stands for “Angels Forever, Forever Angels”, which symbolises the desire for a lifelong connection with the motorcycle club.
Full patch members have the permission to wear all four patches which include the Death Head paatch, a top rocker which is labelled “Hells Angels”, a bottom rocker which lists the location of your chapter and a patch with “MC”, which of course stands for Motorcycle Club.
Patches remain the property of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club at all times. If a member leaves then they will need to return their patches, one way or another, which is one of the key one percenter motorcycle club rules. It is unlikely that you will find a genuine Hells Angels patch for sale. Almost any Hells Angels patch for sale on the Internet will be a fake, so don’t even bother.
Some of the official roles that exist in the Hells Angels
- Hells Angels President
- Hells Angels Vice President
- Hells Angels Sergeant at Arms
- Hells Angels Secretary
- Hells Angels Treasurer
Members of the club in these particular roles will also usually have an additional patch listing their role, which is worn above a patch listing the physical location of their chapter. This set of official roles is quite similar across many 1 percent motorcycle clubs.
Hells Angels Intellectual Property Court Cases
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club are very defensive when it comes to use of their name, logo and identity in general. Multiple times they have taken others to court for using their intellectual property without permission.
2007 – Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group: In 2007 the Hells Angels MC took Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group to court for use of their logo and name in the film Wild Hogs, which starred Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Ray Liotta and William H. Macy. It was agreed that the offending elements would be removed from the film and the case was dismissed.
2010 – Alexander McQueen: In 2010 the Hells Angels took designer Alexander McQueen to court for “misusing its trademark winged death heads symbol” as part of their Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. This case of Hells Angels vs Alexander McQueen also included the fashion retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos.com who stocked the jacquard box dress and knuckle duster ring which were the offending items making use of the winged death heads. A handbag and scarf were also part of the lawsuit against Alexander McQueen.
2012 – Toys “R” Us: In 2012 the Hells Angels MC took out a lawsuit against toy retailer Toys “R” Us and yo-yo manufacturer Yomega Corporation who created a yo-yo which included a logo very similar to the Death Head. This case was also settled.
2013 – The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club retail store was opened in December 2013 in Toronto, Canada. This store sells Hells Angels merchandise.
How to Become a Hells Angel
Here are some details on how to join, or you may wish to view our full article on the Hells Angels membership requirements. While many things are kept secret, there are some basic Hells Angels membership requirements. If you wish to join the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club then you will need a motorcycle, but more importantly you will need to be the right personality fit. This is similar for most 1 percent motorcycle clubs. If you need to ask how to become a Hells Angel then you won’t be joining!
There are a number of phases that you will need to go through before becoming a full patched member of the one percenter motorcycle club.
First you will be a hang around, where you may be invited to some events that the club holds. This gives a chance to get to know more members and for them to start judging whether or not you may be a worthwhile member.
If you are deemed to be acceptable then the next stage makes you an associate, where for a couple of years you continue meeting more members and being evaluated.
The third stage is becoming a Hells Angels prospect. A Hells Angels prospect will be able to participate in many more events, however you will not be able to place any votes on club matters. It is over this time period that other members of the club determine whether or not the Hells Angels prospect should be made a fully patched member of the Hells Angels MC.
After they have met all of the above Hells Angels membership requirements, for a prospect to become a full patch member they must be voted in unanimously by the other club members. As well as the voting in, it is likely that there are additional steps required for the prospect to perform, however details of these are kept secret along with many of the one percenter motorcycle club rules. Welcome to the one percent.
Hells Angels Crime / In The Media
1985 – Five members of the Hells Angels are murdered in the town of Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada. It is later discovered that the murderers were also members of Hells Angels MC, with dozens of members watching on as the killings occurred. The event is later known as the Lennoxville Massacre, or Lennoxville Purge.
1994-1997 – From 1994 until 1997 the Hells Angels were heavily involved in the Great Nordic Biker War against the Bandidos MC in Scandinavia. The battle gains significant media attention as several people are killed and anti-tank rockets stolen from the Swedish military are used in the fight.
1994-2002 – From 1994 until 2002 the Hells Angels were involved in the Quebec Biker War, with opposition including Rock Machine MC and Bandidos MC. It is believed that this war was mainly revolving around control of the Quebec drug market. Hells Angels Montreal President Maurice “Mom” Boucher plays a heavy part in the battles and is sentenced in 2002 to life in prison.
1995 – 3 March, 1995. Hells Angels member Jack John “Four-By” Castle is shot while sitting in his Lincoln vehicle on the 2400 block of West George Street in Chicago’s Northwest. Jack Castle had previously been a member of the West Chicago chapter of Hells Henchmen MC until they were patched over by the Angels in December 1994. He is shot with .30-caliber rifle slugs and dies from the injuries. In October 2000 the Outlaws MC Southside Chicago chapter President Carl J. “Jay” Warneke is convicted of the murder.
2002 – 27 April, 2002. A fight breaks out between dozens of members of the Hells Angels and Mongols MC at Harrah’s Casino in Laughin, Nevada as part of the Laughlin River Run. 3 are killed in the fight and dozens injured. The event would later be known as the River Run Riot.
2006 – 18 March, 2006. Just after 7pm Anthony Banesh is shot and killed in a sniper-style attack while walking with his girlfriend and two sons as they were leaving Saccone’s Pizza in Northwest Austin. He is shot once in the head, the bullet being shot from a considerable distance from a high power rifle. It is believed that Anthony Banesh was attempting to start a Texas chapter of the Hells Angels MC and had been seen on multiple occasions riding in the state in Hells Angels colors. It is unclear if Anthony Banesh had clearance from Hells Angels leadership before wearing the death-head patch.
2009 – 2 December, 2009. Scott Orrock patched over to the Hells Angels from the Nomads MC, bringing with him several members of the Nomads. This move was one of the reasons for the escalating violence between the Nomads and Hells Angels over the coming months, including his vehicle being torched the following day.
2014 – 22-23 February, 2014. USA – Between the 22nd and 23rd of February, 2014, members from Satudarah MC were in a fight with Hells Angels MC. The fight first started at a sports bar named “Lions and Barrels” and then continued in a nearby park, followed by a parking lot. One of the Satudarah Motorcycle Club members and two Hells Angels MC members were injured in the fight with stab wounds. There were also reports of gun fire, however no gun shot wounds were mentioned in the reports. The was noted to be one of the first main fights between the club and rival clubs in the country. A total of 28 people were arrested as a result of the fight.
Less than a week after this fight occurred it was reported that Satudarah MC club held a meeting with Hells Angels MC, also present were members of the Bandidos MC. It is believed the two clubs agreed on peace.
2015 – 22 February, 2015. Australia. Hells Angels National Sgt-At-Arms Scott Orrock, is arrested along with Hells Angels members Stephen Walker, Daniel Walker and Benjamin Heath over an attack on Matthew King. He was allegedly kidnapped from the Central Coast area, transported to multiple addresses in Western Sydney while bound by coat hangers and was assaulted several times, both with fists and a hammer. Injuries sustained included the de-gloving of one of his fingers.
2017 – 2 March, 2017. Bandidos MC members Jesse James Benavides, Johnny Romo, Robert Romo and Norberto Serna are arrested and charged in relation to the 2006 killing of Anthony Banesh after he was attempting to set up a Texas chapter of the Hells Angels MC. All four of the men are named in a 12-count indictment which includes one count of discharging a gun during a murder in aid of racketeering. Johnny Romo and Robert Romo also receive a charge of murder in aid of racketeering charges.
2017 – 21 May, 2017. Joshua Herbert, believed to be with a status of “Out Bad” with the Mongols MC, exits his car at a gas station in Riverside, California where 3 Hells Angels MC members and two prospects were filling up. Joshua Herbert begins firing at the group of Hells Angels with a revolver, with multiple bullets hitting Hells Angels prospect James Duty, who later died in hospital. A second Hells Angels member was hit in the helmet, but not injured. On 21 June multiple law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at seven locations where they found several weapons and various Mongols insignia. James Duty is arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, weapons violations, and gang enhancements with special circumstances.
Hells Angels Enemies / Hells Angels Allies
Due to the size of the club, the Hells Angels have many different enemies and allies. Generally speaking, there is a loose alliance between the other major motorcycle clubs against the Angels.
Hells Angels Allies
- 69ers MC are allies.
- Chieftains MC are allies.
- Ching-A-Ling Nomads MC are allies.
- Coffin Cheaters MC are allies.
- Devils Breed MC are allies.
- Devils Diciples MC are allies.
- El Forastero MC are allies.
- Forbidden Wheels MC are allies.
- Freewheelers MC are allies.
- Galloping Goose MC are allies.
- Head Hunters MC are allies.
- Hessians MC are allies according to a 1991 Department of Justice report which stated that there were business dealings between the clubs.
- Iron Horsemen MC are allies.
- Jus Brothers MC are allies.
- Outsider MC are allies.
- Renegades MC are allies.
- Satans Soldiers MC are allies.
- Solo Angeles Club de Motocicletas / Solo Angels MC are allies.
Hells Angels Enemies
- Breed MC are a known enemy of the Hells Angels in the North East area of the USA. The two clubs had a major fight in the early 1980’s where 4 Breed MC members and 1 Hells Angel were killed.
- Gremium MC are an enemy of the club. Gremium MC has a significant presence in Germany.
- Iron Order MC are enemies.
- Mongols MC are enemies.
- Notorious MC are enemies.
- Outlaws MC are a well known enemy of the Hells Angels. By default the Outlaws MC official support club, the Black Pistons MC is also an enemy.
- Road Rats MC
- Rock Machine MC are an enemy and were one of the opposers in the Quebec Biker War.
- Sons of Silence MC are enemies.
- Vagos MC are enemies.
Hells Angels Patching Over
- Bacchus MC – In the early 2000’s there was talk of the Hells Angels patching over Bacchus MC, a prominent Canadian one percenter motorcycle club, however these talks broke down.
- Fates Assembly MC – Multiple Fates Assembly chapters were patched over by the Hells Angels in the mid 2000s, mainly around the Maryland area.
- Grim Reapers MC (Canada) were patched over in 1997.
- Kings Crew MC were patched over some time in the late 1990s.
- Lost Breed MC were patched over in December 2015.
- Satan’s Choice MC were patched over on 29 December, 2000. Included in the same mass patching over on this day were the Canadian based Lobos MC, Loners MC and the Para-Dice Riders MC.
Hells Angels Support Clubs
Hells Angels Books & Media:
YouTube Video: An interview with Sonny Barger from 1994
Part 1 of the interview:
Part 2 of the interview:
Hells Angels Book – Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson.
This is a classic in the outlaw motorcycle club community and is a must read for anyone interested in finding out about early life in the club. View this book on Amazon (link opens in a new tab).
Hells Angels Book – Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club by Sonny Barger with Keith Zimmerman and Kent Zimmerman.
The book about one the most famous Hells Angels of all time, Sonny Barger, who founded the Hells Angels Oakland chapter and has been the public face of the club for decades. View this book on Amazon (link opens in a new tab).
Hells Angels Book – Wayward Angel: The Full Story Of The Hells Angels by George Wethern with Vincent Colnett.
George Wethern was the Vice President of the Oakland Chapter, the right hand man of Sonny Barger who then testified against other members before entering witness protection. View this book on Amazon (link opens in a new tab).
Hells Angels Book – No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton.
Jay Dobyns was a member of the ATF, this book covers his infiltration of the club, to the point where he becomes a patched member. View this book on Amazon (link opens in a new tab).
Book – Phil Cross: Gypsy Joker to a Hells Angel by Phil Cross.
Phil Cross was the founder of the Gypsy Joker San Jose chapter, which after years of violent battles with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was eventually patched over by the Hells Angels. This book tells his story of those violent times. View the book on Amazon (link will open in a new tab).
Book – Breaking The Code: A True Story by a Hells Angel President and the Cop Who Pursued Him by Pat Matter and Chris Omodt.
Quite strangely this book is co-written by former Hells Angel Pat Matter and cop Chris Omodt. They each take a chapter at a time telling their side of the story as Pat Matter is in the Minneapolis Hells Angels and the police try to, and successfully do, take him down. Find out more on Amazon (link opens in a new tab).
- List of Hells Angels Charters
- List of One Percenters Motorcycle Clubs
- What is a One Percenter Motorcycle Club?
- List of the most Famous Hells Angels
- Outlaws Motorcycle Club
- Pissed off Bastards of Bloomington
- Pagans MC
- Rock Machine MC
- Outlaw Motorcycle Club Books
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