Sonny Barger, also known as Ralph Hubert Barger Jr. was a novelist and outlaw motorcyclist from the United States. He was a founder member and the most visible character of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, one of the world’s most notorious and contentious biker gangs.
In addition, he was involved in a number of criminal matters, including drug trafficking, conspiracy, and murder. He appeared in various films and TV productions, including Sons of Anarchy, and wrote five books about his life and experiences with the Hells Angels. To learn more about Sonny Barger’s net worth, continue reading.
What Was Sonny Barger Net Worth?
At the time of his death in June 2022, Sonny Barger’s net worth was estimated to be around $500,000. His earnings were mostly generated from his profession as an author and actor and his longtime membership in the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Barger penned many books about his motorcycle experiences, including the best-selling Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. He has appeared in films and television shows such as the 1969 documentary Hells Angels on Wheels and the 1990s television drama Sons of Anarchy.
Barger also made money from the sale of items bearing his name and the Hells Angels. Clothing, patches, and other goods were sold on the club’s official website as well as at biker rallies and events. Despite his small personal worth, Barger was a well-known and respected member of the outlaw biker subculture. For years to come, his legacy will have an impact on bikers and motorcycle lovers.
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Early Life and Background
Sonny Barger was born in Modesto, California, on October 8, 1938, to Ralph Hubert Barger Sr. and Kathryn Carmella Ritch. When he was four months old, his mother abandoned the family, and his alcoholic father and Pentecostal grandmother raised him in Oakland, California.
Shirley, his older sister, was his only sibling. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and joined the United States Army, but was dismissed after a few months due to his age. He then worked as a motorcycle mechanic and as a day laborer on the Oakland docks.
Hells Angels and Biker Culture
Sonny Barger developed an early interest in bikes and joined the Oakland Panthers, a local biker group, in the mid-1950s. He and a few buddies founded the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels, a motorcycle club founded in California in 1948.
As he unified and expanded the Hells Angels across the country and internationally, he quickly became the chapter’s president and the club’s national leader.He also created the club’s signature insignia, a skull, and its motto, “Angels Forever, Forever Angels.”
The Hells Angels were infamous for their rebellious and violent lifestyle, which included drug trading, arms trafficking, extortion, and murder.
They also clashed with rival biker gangs like the Outlaws, Mongols, and Pagans, as well as law enforcement agencies like the FBI and ATF. The Hells Angels were also connected with the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movement, as they befriended and protected several of the era’s most prominent figures, including the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Ken Kesey.
They also took part in some of the era’s most iconic events, including the 1964 Monterey Pop Festival, the 1969 Altamont Free Concert, and the 1970 Kent State killings.
Legal Troubles and Prison Time
Sonny Barger was arrested and charged with various crimes throughout his career as a Hells Angel. Some of the most notable cases include:
- He was arrested in 1966 for marijuana and LSD possession, but the charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
- In 1972, he was acquitted of the death of a rival biker, who was shot during a bar brawl by another Hells Angel.
- He was convicted of possession of narcotics with intent to distribute in 1973 after being caught with 13 pounds of methamphetamine. He was condemned to ten years in prison, but due to a legal snag, he was released after four years.
- After being suspected of masterminding a scheme to kill members of the Outlaws in Louisville, Kentucky, he was acquitted of racketeering and conspiracy in 1980.
Books and Media Appearances
Sonny Barger wrote five books about his life and experiences with the Hells Angels, which are:
- Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, a biography and history of the club, was published in 2000.
- Patch Kinkade, a fictional Hells Angel in Dead in 5 Heartbeats (2004).
- Freedom: Credos from the Road, a compilation of articles and anecdotes about his philosophy and beliefs, was published in 2005.
Death and Legacy
Sonny Barger died on June 29, 2022, in Livermore, California, at the age of 83, following a protracted fight with lung cancer. He was laid to rest with full military honors in the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.
Sonny Barger, known as the founder of Hells Angels, has died at 83. https://t.co/gls6PwiOuG
— TMZ (@TMZ) June 30, 2022
His fourth wife, Zorana Katzakian, whom he married in 2005, and his stepdaughter, Sarrah, from his third marriage to Noel Black, survive him. Sonny Barger is largely recognized as the most important and legendary character in Hell’s Angels and motorcycle culture history.
He is recognized for helping to shape the club’s image, organization, and ethics, as well as growing its global visibility and impact. Many motorcycle aficionados and admirers adore him for his passion, charisma, and rebellious spirit.
He has been the topic of numerous books, articles, documentaries, and films, as well as the inspiration for numerous fictitious characters and stories. He is also renowned for his contributions to the counterculture movement and the 1960s and 1970s music scene. Some regard him as a folk hero, some as a criminal, and many as a legend.
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