The Original Hells Angels: Amazing Photographs Capture Daily Life of a Notorious Biker Gang in California in the 1960s

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America loves its outlaws, but few of us actually dare to live the lifestyle. In 1965, the Hells Angels were little known outside the American West. LIFE photographer Bill Ray spent several weeks in Southern California, photographing and traveling with the San Bernardino chapter of a gang that would soon become notorious for its hedonistic, lawless swagger.

The motto of the Hells Angels encapsulates how society sees them. Hells Angels is a motorcycle gang associated with organized crime. They are famous for riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles and wearing cut offs with the Hells Angels insignia.

“This was a new breed of rebel,” Ray told LIFE. “They didn’t have jobs. They absolutely despised everything that most Americans value and strive for — stability, security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days at a time, fought with anyone who messed with them. They were self-contained, with their own set of rules, their own code of behavior. It was extraordinary to be around.”

Several weeks with the Hells Angels is enough to see how their daily routine. Bill Ray was able to capture these moments through his photos. Below are some photos taken by Bill Ray:

Hells Angels, California, 1965.

Hells Angels, California, 1965.

Big D, a member of the San Bernardino, a.k.a, “Berdoo” Hells Angels, during a ride from San Bernardino to Bakersfield, California, 1965.

Inside the Hells Angels’ San Bernardino clubhouse, 1965.

“Little Jim” drinks beer from a waste basket at the Angels’ clubhouse in San Bernardino, 1965.

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