Sonny Barger, Hells Angels Founder and Sons of Anarchy Actor, Dies at 83

Sonny Barger, the famous biker, author, and actor who was a founding member of the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has passed away at age 83. The New York Post reports that Barger was battling cancer when he passed in California on June 29th in the company of his wife, Zorana, and relatives. Barger had a fascinating history and was perhaps best known to television fans for playing Lenny "The Pimp" Janowitz in three episodes of Sons of Anarchy from 2010 to 2012. 

"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's Facebook page read as of yesterday. "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. Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor." 

In addition to Sons of Anarchy, Barger's biker days were also seen onscreen back in the 1960s when he played "President of the Hells Angels" in the 1967 film Hells Angels on Wheels, in which he also served as a technical advisor. Barger also played a role named after himself in the 1969 film Hell's Angels '69 and served as a story consultant on Angels from Hell in 1968. After appearing on Sons of Anarchy, Barger had one more acting credit, which was playing "Traders Bar Patron" in the 2013 film Dead in 5 Heartbeats which he is also credited on as a producer. Barger also appeared as himself in multiple documentaries, including The Rolling Stone's Gimme Shelter (1970), Harley Davidson: The Spirit of America (2005), and I Ride (2013).

According to The New York PostBarger has quite an interesting history with the law. In 1972, he was acquitted along with three others of murdering a Texas drug dealer. In 1973, he was sentenced to 10 years to life after being convicted of possession of narcotics and a weapon by a convicted felon, but he was paroled in November 1977. Two years later, he was one of 33 people indicted on charges of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act but was acquitted in 1980. In 1988, he was convicted of conspiracy and was sentenced to four years in jail before being released in 1992. 

Throughout his life, Barger wrote six books. He revealed in his autobiography that he was inspired by Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953). Of course, Barger was best known for founding the Oakland Hells Angels who just celebrated their 65th year in April. 

Our thoughts are with Barger's family at this difficult time.