Hell's Angels are the biggest gang, but they were not the first.
"The Booze Fighters" were the first of a new breed of
motorcyclists, the outlaw gang. During a fourth of July revelry
in 1947, they lived down to their name and terrorized an agricultural
town, Hollister, California, getting themselves into the news and
their story eventually into the movies (THE WILD ONE). Three years
after, in another small California town named Fontana, some young
motorcyclists saw the reports in newspapers and LIFE magazine and
decided to emulate the media's accounts of the outlaw bikers. The
group took its name from a 1930s movie of the same name that had
nothing to do with motorcycles directed
by Howard Hughes and starring Jean Harlow, it followed the exploits
of a group of World War I fliers.
Hell's Angels have become the archetypal outlaw club, but more than
that as well. According to a court affidavit filed in December,
1997, the Angels are the largest outlaw motorcycle gang in the world
with 1200 members in the United States and 600 in the rest of the
world. While they do organize group rides and some charity drives,
drug trafficking is reportedly the club's main activity and source
compete with the Pagans, Banditos and Outlaws in turf across the world,
including a major wars through the East Coast and Scandinavia that have
killed scores of people. Banditos raided an arms warehouse of the Sweden
army and then launched attacks that included hand-grenade attacks and
even an anti-tank rocket fired into a Hell's Angels clubhouse during
a party. The Oakland, California branch
a direct descendent of the original group from Fontana
is the Angels' international headquarters.
HELL'S MARKETING ANGLES
be unfair to say that all of the Hell's Angels' products are illegal.
Hey, if Harley can stamp its brand on everything from coffee to credit
cards, why not Angels? And sure enough, branches of the gang offer a
wide assortment of doodads and geegaws. However, here is where it gets
complicated: If you buy products from the Hell's Angels, they don't
say "Hell's Angels." Instead they say, "Big Red Machine."
"We don't call them bikers, we call them criminal gangs.
As far as Scandinavia goes, we believe the bikes are only a camouflage."
Cassel, Stockholm County Police
is that? Maybe it's because they don't want non-members using the name.
Or maybe it's because somebody else owns the legal rights to merchandising
the name. A veteran's group, the 303rd Bombardment Group Association,
were the original Hell's Angels; the motorcycle gang "borrowed"
their name after seeing a movie about them
like the Hard Rock Cafe, you can buy "Big Red Machine" products
brandishing the winged skull and names and numbers of local chapters
from all over the world like London, Quebec, NYC, Sydney and Denmark.
What kind of products? Well, you'd be disappointed
a lot of them look
like things you might get at a souvenir store in a tourist area. Lots
of t-shirts, of course, but also beer mugs, belt buckles, patches, helmet
stickers, mini-flashlights, baseball hats, ashtrays, and plastic cigarette
lighters. There's also a line of riding jackets under the "HA Leather"
label and picture-a-month calendars of scenic backgrounds besmirched
by not-so-scenic members of the club. If you want to go browsing through
the regional stores, start at the Hells Angels World webpage and follow
the links: http://www.hellsangelsmcworld.com/