(KTXL) — A funeral will be held in Stockton this weekend for Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the founder of the Oakland Hells Angels chapter who passed away in June from cancer.
Thousands of people are expected to ride to Stockton this weekend for the funeral service at the Stockton 99 Speedway.
Born in Modesto and growing up in Oakland, Barger dropped out of high school at 16 and joined the Army in 1955, according to the Associated Press. He was later honorably discharged after they discovered he had forged his birth certificate.
Barger then started the Hells Angels in Oakland with friends and helped unify the clubs across California.
According to the Associated Press, the Hells Angels were depicted as “the dark fringe of the 1960s counterculture, embracing freedom, drugs and rock music, but also crime and violence,” by the media.
He also was the main character in Hunter Thompson’s 1967 expose “Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.”
Two years after the book was published, Barger was present at the Hells Angels’ most infamous moment. Bikers who were hired as security staff for the 1969 Rolling Stones concert stabbed someone after a gun was pointed at one of their members, according to the Associated Press.
Barger served 13 years in various prisons and claimed that “one of his most satisfying experiences was his acquittal in 1980 on a count of racketeering, and the declaration of a mistrial on a charge of conspiracy to violate the racketeering law,” according to the Associated Press.
However, in 1988, Barger was sentenced to six years in Phoenix Federal Correctional Institution after he was found guilty of “conspiracy to violate federal firearms and explosives laws in plots to kill members of a rival gang.” He was released in 1992, according to the Associated Press.
Also in the 1980s, Barger had a laryngectomy for throat cancer, which he claimed to be because of his three-pack-a-day cigarette habit. After his surgery, he breathed “through a plastic valve in his neck, and covered the vent to speak,” according to the Associated Press.
Barger was an author, who wrote three books about his life and philosophy including his best-selling autobiography, “Hell’s Angel,” according to the Associated Press.
The funeral service for Barger will be held at the Stockton 99 Speedway from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a live stream available for those who are unable to attend the event.