Born to Be Wild: The Original Hells Angels Biker Gangs

Hit the road with the Hells Angels in these killer vintage snapshots.

Viewers are still buzzing about the season finale of Sons of Anarchy – FX’s gritty motorcycle gang saga set in Northern California. And while our ride with the SAMCRO crew may officially be over (for now), these arresting snapshots of rough and tumble biker clubs – including the notorious Hells Angels – are sure to keep your outlaw engines running.

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club kicked off in 1948 California and has since spread around the globe. While the group identifies as a band of motorcycle enthusiasts, the law sees it differently. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, HAMC is an organized crime ring, guilty of drug running, money laundering, extortion, and homicide.

Related: Los Narcosatánicos: Adolfo Constanzo's Human Sacrifice Cult and the Murder of Mark Kilroy 

Perhaps it’s the Angels’ menacing “death’s head” logo that first caught the eye of authorities. Or the diamond-shaped one-percenter patch worn by clubs like the Devil’s Henchmen, believed to symbolize the 1% of motorcycle gangs that are true blue outlaws. In either case, it’s clear from the killer photos below that these bikers are not to be messed with.

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  • MEMBERS OF THE DEVIL’S HENCHMEN (1971)

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  • A HELLS ANGEL VISITS A MOTORCYCLE SHOW (1971)

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  • HELLS ANGELS OUTSIDE A CAFE (1971)

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  • A HELLS ANGEL AT LONDON’S HYDE PARK POP FESTIVAL (1969)

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  • A HELLS ANGEL AT LONDON’S HYDE PARK POP FESTIVAL (1969)

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  • DEVIL’S HENCHMEN (1971)

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  • HELLS ANGELS AT BARDNEY FESTIVAL (1972)

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  • HELLS ANGELS (1972)

Courtesy of Paul Hawthorne; Evening Standard; Central Press; James Jackson; Reg Burkett; J. Wilds/Getty

Published on 7 Jan 2015