||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2009)|
|Born||Ralph Hubert Barger
October 8, 1938
|Known for||Founding member of Hells Angels, Oakland chapter|
Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger (born October 8, 1938) is a founding member (1957) of the Oakland, California, U.S. chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. He is also the author of five books - Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club (2000), Dead in 5 Heartbeats (2004), Freedom: Credos from the Road (2005), 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet (2006), and Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling (2010) - and editor of the book Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Motorcycle Stories (2003). Onscreen, Barger was identified but didn't speak in Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) and was one of several members of the Angels who had speaking parts playing themselves in Hell's Angels '69 (1969). He has appeared in several additional films and in the Sons of Anarchy television show.
Barger is a prominent figure in Hunter S. Thompson's bestselling book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966). Barger and the Hells Angels are also depicted in Tom Wolfe's best seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), during Ken Kesey's La Honda encampment. Barger was one of the Hells Angels present at The Rolling Stones' Altamont Free Concert in 1969.
In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer, caused by years of heavy smoking. Consequently, his vocal cords were removed, and after a laryngectomy he has learned to vocalize using the muscles in his throat.
In 1988, Barger was found guilty of conspiring to blow up the clubhouse of a rival motorcycle club, The Outlaws in Louisville, Kentucky and spent four years in federal prison in Arizona.
Sonny Barger remains married to Zorana Barger and an active member of the Hells Angels in the Cave Creek Chapter having moved there from Oakland in 1998. He has owned 10 to 12 motorcycles throughout his life.
In recent years, Barger has worked to promote motorcycle safety; he co-authored a book on the subject with Darwin Holmstrom (the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles (1998)) titled Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling (2010).
|“||In terms of pure work-manship, personally I don't like Harleys. I ride them because I'm in the club, and that's the image, but if I could I would seriously consider riding a Honda ST1100 or a BMW. We really missed the boat not switching over to the Japanese models when they began building bigger bikes. I'll usually say "Fuck Harley-Davidson."||”|
—- Ralph "Sonny" Barger, Hell's Angel 
On November 30, 2010, Barger made a short guest appearance on the Season 3 finale of the FX television series Sons of Anarchy as Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz, about a fictional outlaw motorcycle club, allegedly based on the Hells Angels. Show creator Kurt Sutter spent time with Barger and other members of Hells Angels researching for the show, and acted opposite Barger in his scene. Barger returned again on the Sons of Anarchy as Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz November 29, 2011, in the Season 4 finale, part one. Barger's third guest appearance on Sons of Anarchy as Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz was during Season 5, Episode 10, which aired on November 13, 2012.
- with Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman (2001). Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. William Morrow. ISBN 0-06-093754-8.
- Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Motorcycle Stories. William Morrow. 2003. ISBN 0-06-000603-X.
- Dead in 5 Heartbeats. HarperTorch. 2004. ISBN 9780060532536.
- Freedom: Credos from the Road. William Morrow. 2005. ISBN 0-06-053256-4.
- 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet. William Morrow. 2006. ISBN 9780060745318.
- Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling. William Morrow. 2010. ISBN 0-06-196427-1.
- Hell's Angels on Wheels (1967)
- Hell's Angels '69 (1969)
- Hell's Angels Forever (1983), featuring Sonny Barger, Jerry Garcia, Scott Barnes, Johnny Paycheck, Willie Nelson
- Sons of Anarchy television series, (2010-2012), played recurring character Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz
- Dead in 5 Heartbeats (2012)
- Jury Finds Hells Angels Leader Guilty in Plots, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, October 29, 1988
- Barger (2001)
- Holmstrom, Darwin (1998). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles. Alpha.
- Barger & Holmstrom (June 8, 2010). Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling. HarperCollins.
- Barger, Ralph. "Harleys, Choppers, Full Dressers, and Stolen Wheels". Hell's Angel the Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. Harper. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-06-093754-6.
- "Sonny Barger: Full Biography". The New York Times (Movies & TV). Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- Sonny Barger at the Internet Movie Database
- Sonny Barger at the Internet Movie Database
- Independent Feature Film Dead In 5 Heartbeats by American Motorcycle Legend Sonny Barger
- Dead in 5 Heartbeats (2013)
- DEAD IN 5 HEARTBEATS (movie review) | Forces of Geek: the only pop culture site that matters
- Associated Press (Jun 14, 1979). "Authorities Crack Down on 'Angels'". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Associated Press (Aug 2, 1980). "Hells Angels Leader Leaves Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Bryant, Nick (October 5, 2000), ""Hell's Angel" interview (audio)", Salon.com
- Martin, Phillip (December 2, 1992). "Look Homeward Angelcycle Icon Sonny Barger Kick-Starts Life as a Free Man by Violating Parole". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
- Stillman, Deanne (July 10, 2000), "Hell's author; Legendary bad-ass biker Sonny Barger and his roaring Harley are burnin' up the highways on a ... uh ... book tour?", Salon.com