Sonny Barger Biography


Birthday: October 8, 1938 (Libra)

Born In: Modesto, California, United States

Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger is an American outlaw biker, author, actor and one of the founding members of the Oakland, California, chapter of the worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club called ‘Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’ (HAMC). He has appeared on-screen several times including in the films ‘Hells Angels on Wheels’ and ‘Hell's Angels '69’; in the documentary film ‘Gimme Shelter’; and in the television series ‘Sons of Anarchy’.  Barger has also made his mark as an author with the books ‘Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club’, ‘Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling’, ‘6 Chambers, 1 Bullet’, ‘Freedom: Credos from the Road’ and ‘Dead in 5 Heartbeats’; and as an editor with the book ‘Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Stories’. Counted among the most famous outlaw bikers across the world, Barger is a convicted felon who had to spend four years in federal prison for conspiring to blow up clubhouse of a rival motorcycle club. As a convicted criminal, Barger lost his right to vote and own a gun.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ralph Hubert Barger

Age: 84 Years, 84 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Zorana Barger

father: Ralph Hubert Barger

mother: Kathryn Carmella Barger

Born Country: United States

Actors Writers

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Males

U.S. State: California

Childhood & Early Life

Ѕоnnу Ваrgеr was born as Ralph Hubert Barger Jr. on October 8, 1938, in Modesto, California, US, to Rоbеrt Нubеrt Ваrgеr and Каthrуn Саrmеllа. Although Ваrgеr has not divulged much on his personal life including childhood, family and education, according to sources, his father was an alcoholic and his mother abandoned the family leaving the four months old boy and his older sister with his father.

Barger reportedly fought with other boys and assaulted teachers in school for which he was suspended from school many times. He mentioned later that although he lost interest in school, he used to spend time reading or working at a grocery store.

He organized the ‘Earth Angels’, a small street corner club, while attending high school in Oakland in 1954.

Sonny Barger was enlisted in the army in 1955, however was discharged after fourteen months after it was found that he forged his birth certificate to join the army. Following his stint in the army, Barger did some odd jobs before becoming a member of a motorcycle club.

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The first bike club that Barger joined was the ‘Oakland Panthers’ in 1956. Following year, he and his friends formed the Oakland, California, chapter of the worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club called ‘Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’ (HAMC). Led by Barger, the Oakland charter used a larger version of the "Death's Head" patch nicknamed the "Barger Larger". It was used for the first time in 1959 and eventually became the club standard.

American journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson spent a year living and riding with members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club so as to get a first-hand account of their lives and experiences for writing his 1967 published book ‘Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs’. The book that raised Thompson to prominence featured Barger predominantly.

Sonny Barger appeared in an early scene, however had no spoken lines, in the Richard Rush directed and Adam Roarke, Jack Nicholson, and Sabrina Scharf starrer 1967 American biker film ‘Hells Angels on Wheels’. He also contributed and was credited as a consultant.

The 1968 nonfiction book of Tom Wolfe titled ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’, which presents a firsthand account of the experiences of Ken Kesey and his comrades and followers called Merry Pranksters, also featured Barger and the Hells Angels. The following year, Barger featured in the outlaw biker film ‘Hell's Angels '69’.

Barger and other members of the Hells Angels were present during the counterculture rock concert called ‘Altamont Speedway Free Festival’ that was held at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, US, on December 6, 1969. The Rolling Stones performed at the concert as the final act. The following year, he appeared in the 1970 British-American documentary film ‘Gimme Shelter’ that was made on this disastrous concert.

Sonny Barger starred in the 1983 documentary, drama, music film ‘Hell's Angels Forever’ and later featured as Traders Bar Patron in the 2012 action, adventure, crime film ‘Dead in 5 Heartbeats’.

Meanwhile, in 1998, he relocated from Oakland to Cave Creek, Arizona, and has since remained an active member of the Hells Angels in their Chapter there.

During the last few years, the veteran biker has worked to promote motorcycle safety. He co-authored the book ‘Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling’ on the subject with Darwin Holmstrom. It was originally published on June 8, 2010. Over the years, Barger has written and published four other books namely ‘Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club’ in 2000, ‘Dead in 5 Heartbeats’ in 2004, ‘Freedom: Credos from the Road’ in 2005, and ‘6 Chambers, 1 Bullet’ in 2006. He has also edited the 2003 book ‘Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Stories’

Barger guest appeared as Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz on November 30, 2010, on ‘NS’, the thirteenth and final episode of Season 3 of the FX aired American action crime drama television series ‘Sons of Anarchy’. It revolved around the lives of members of a Charming, California based fictional close-knit outlaw motorcycle club, allegedly based on the Hells Angels. Reportedly Kurt Sutter, creator of the show, researched for the show which included spending time with Barger and other members of Hells Angels. Barger and Sutter also shared screen space in the episode. Barger again featured in his guest role in the series during the November 29, 2011, aired Season 4 finale, part one titled ‘To Be, Act 1’; and during the November 13, 2012, aired tenth episode of Season 5 titled ‘Crucifixed’.

Family & Personal Life

Sonny Barger having a history of heavy smoking for years was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1983 at the Ft. Miley VA Hospital in San Francisco. He was suffering from Stage III Laryngeal Cancer and underwent treatment at the hospital. Michael Tralla MD FACS performed a Total Laryngectomy with Bilateral Functional Neck Dissections on Barger and as his vocal cords were removed, Barger had to learn how to talk again, this time using the muscles in his esophagus.

He was convicted in 1988 for conspiring to blow up the Louisville, Kentucky clubhouse of Outlaws Motorcycle Club, an outlaw motorcycle club whose main rivals are the Hells Angels. This led him to spend four years in federal prison in Arizona.

He married Zorana Barger on June 25, 2005. She is known for her work on the action adventure crime film ‘Dead in 5 Heartbeats’.

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