Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Hells Angels who provided security at a notorious and fatal Rolling Stones show in 1969, has died.
According to a post on Facebook, which includes a message from Barger himself intended to be posted straight after his death, the Hells Angel “passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer” aged 83.
Born Ralph Hubert Barger, Jr. in 1938, Barger founded the Oakland, California branch of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1957, the most influential and arguably the original iteration of the legendary crew.
“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,” Barger wrote in the statement, which you can read in full below.
“I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club. Although I’ve had a public persona for decades, I’ve mostly enjoyed special time with my club brothers, my family, and close friends.
“Please know that I passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer. But also know that in the end, I was surrounded by what really matters: My wife, Zorana, as well as my loved ones.”
Live Long and ride free old timer R.i.p Sonny Barger pic.twitter.com/y8YOhCNSv4
— St.Judas (@JudasDisciple) June 30, 2022
Barger and the Hells Angels provided security at the Stones’ notorious show in December 1969 at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, which was attended by 300,000 people.
During the show, a Hells Angels member stabbed a Black man named Meredith Hunter to death, reportedly for trying to enter the stage.
In his autobiography, Hell’s Angel — The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, Barger blamed The Rolling Stones themselves for the violence, saying that they delayed their set time on purpose to rile up the crowd.
He even went on in the book to claim that he held a gun to Keith Richards to insist that the Stones began their performance.
Barger also spent time with Hunter S. Thompson for the latter’s book Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.
Barger is survived by his wife Zorana.