OAKLAND — Sonny Barger, the famous founding member of the Hells Angels who rode the country by motorcycle, wrote bestselling books, fought the law and won on several occasions, and advocated against smoking after his throat cancer diagnosis, has died at 83.
The announcement of Barger’s death came on his official Facebook page with a post containing a farewell message written by Barger.
“If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing,” the post says. “I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club.”
Barger died of cancer, according to the post, which says he was surrounded by his wife, Zorana, and other loved ones.
Born Ralph Hubert Barger, the Modesto native moved to Oakland as a child, enlisted in the U.S. Army as a teen, and gravitated toward motorcycle clubs at a young age. In his autobiography, Barger wrote that the Hells Angels were a small San Francisco club that fizzled before he joined. He and other bikers picked up the name and started the Oakland Hells Angels, which is now known as the club’s most significant charter. He’d go on to become the club’s national president in the late 1950s and is credited with helping build the Hells Angels into an international organization.