Exclusive: Tony Scott's Hell's Angels is Actually Sonny Barger's Story
by Brandon Lee Tenney
June 18, 2009
I remember it like it was yesterday. The news that Stephen Gaghan and Tony Scott were adapting Hunter S. Thompson's seminal work Hell's Angels for the big screen. Well, it seems that that isn't entirely accurate. Here are the facts: Stephen Gaghan is indeed writing the screenplay for a film to be directed by Tony Scott. That film is to be titled Hell's Angels. However, this Hell's Angels adaptation is in no way connected to Hunter S. Thompson's book of the same name. Instead, Hell's Angels is the adaptation of Sonny Barger's autobiography Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club.
Sonny Barger, if you're not familiar, is the founder of the Oakland Hells Angels motorcycle club. In 1982, due to a three-pack-per-day smoking habit, he was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and his vocal cords were removed. But even that couldn't keep him silent, as he learned to vocalize using only the muscles in his throat. He's spent 13 years in jail, with a rap sheet as eclectic as you might expect from a man perpetually on the road: kidnapping, drug possession, attempted murder, and racketeering to name a few. Barger is a bad man, in both that he's what some may say is the epitome of badass and that he's really just a bad, bad man.
Barger's autobiography tells the real story, unlike every other previous account of him, including the Hunter S. Thompson book about spending time with Barger and the biker gang. After Barger's book was first released in 2000, it skyrocketed onto the New York Times Bestseller's List and was quickly optioned by Fox.
After a chat with one of the producers (and Sonny Barger's lawyer), Fritz Clapp, I learned that Traffic scribe Stephen Gaghan is the fourth writer to take a crack at Barger's story. Interestingly, the script saw passes from the likes of Anthony Zuiker (of "CSI" fame), Michael Tolkien, and the controversial memoirist James Frey. Clapp also confirmed that Tony Scott will be directing as well as producing Hell's Angels and that the film will most likely be his next after Unstoppable. There you have it. It's Sonny Barger's story that Gaghan and Scott will really be telling. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm still very excited to see this.
Reader Feedback - 37 Comments
Hope it's better than Pelham.
Adam on Jun 18, 2009
if you need some real looking extras or real long haired bearded old school 1960s and 70s period looking bikers to be in this movie give me a jingle. i live in north phoenix Arizona the biker capitol of America. and i ride 20 to 100 miles a day 6 days a week im tan, tattooed, muscler,handsome and rode hard looking. i have been riding for 42 years. i am the real thing,and there aint much of that running around now days in the biker world. you can find me sometimes at the steel horse saloon at 19th ave and bell road in north phoenix Arizona. this is where the real Sonny Barger the real local Hells Angels hang out on Friday and Saturday nights. if you need a long haired handsome blue eyed biker stud give me a call!
outlaw jones on Jun 18, 2009
Hurley Davisdon rules suckers!!!
MantisMcguilick on Jun 28, 2011
sonny barger now rides a 2008 victory vision motorcycle. he gave up on those pesky junk harleys finally. he still rides about 30,000+ miles a year at 71 years old with the cave creek arizona Hells Angels. the guy is still in great shape for living such a hard life. i see him every week.
alex on Jun 18, 2009
But not as sexy as you right?
PosterboyHA on Jun 28, 2011
wm on Jun 18, 2009
sorry...gary oldman would be awesome for this role. Just going apeshit. plus, he sort of looks like Sonny Barger. anyways....do it Gary.
wm on Jun 18, 2009
who gives a crap about sonny the rat his his band of shitbags. the cancer should of killed him. hollywood keeps glorifying these criminals. society does not care about the hells magots or any of their puppets.
angel hater on Jun 19, 2009
This sounds like phone courage,why not go down to the Steel horse and speak your concerns....I bet you are just another punk....LOL
Dunedogi on Jul 12, 2011
#6 dont tell that to Scorcese...he's made a career off of scumbags...and so has everybody else unfortunately. you usually get the best acting out of stories like these. the godfather,goodfellas,blow,american gangster...you now the deal...I dont have to tell ya.
esophus on Jun 19, 2009
Martian Scorsese would make a better movie than Tony Scott. how would a young kid like this Stephen Gaghan ever know how to write for 1%er bike types at all if he has never been around that world? i think this movie will end up being as lame as sons of anarchy. get those guys that wrote for the sopranos if you want to see real true to life story lines that seem real and believable.
biker/cowpoke on Jun 19, 2009
Sonny and his litigious gun-for-hire Fritz Clapp will fuck this all up. He isn't a novice when it comes to working with Hollywood, but he's notorious for being a primma donna and difficult to work with. Just ask Disney and HBO. Already there is confusion about this being the movie version of Hunter S. Thompson's classic. This project - mostly in the conceptual stage at least - has been on the table for years - it didn't start out but is ending up as "The Sonny Barger Story" or better yet "How I Did It" - with Sonny seemingly taking full credit for building and administrating what has become the #1 elite M.C. on the planet. If they want to make a movie about the Oakland or Cave Creek chapters Sonny is their man. I'm betting that we won't hear jack shit about Canada or Mom Boucher or weapons of mass destruction used by European Red and White or the rest of the world because Sonny can't tell them much. There is still a violent war being waged up there for power while Sonny is autographing books and selling bar-b-cue sauce, playing it safe in the world's largest retirement community - Arizona. Another problem is that whatever the spoils from Hollywood are, the other 5000 full patched members don't see a dime. Sonny is the ceremonial figurehead of the H.A.M.C. and he has of course earned his stripes and is entitled to his due respects. However, if you want to know the REAL story and history behind this organization then the powers behind this project should go to the Number 2 man - George Christie - that is if he would be willing to even participate.
Big Downer on Jun 19, 2009
The most famous event of Sonny's life was when he and his angels provided "security" for the Altamont concert. Will this historical occasion be depicted in film? How about Hunter Thompson's encounter with the HA's while researching his book on them? Was that Sonny's chapter?
zubzwank on Jun 19, 2009
Just like the tanned, tattooed, muscular,handsome, long haired & bearded biker, I am looking to lend a helping hand. If you pay close attention to the early 60's HA, tattoos were seldom scene, greased hair & a clean shave, were the norm. This early era, is were my opinion is pertinent. I am Harley-Davidson's Lic. sculptor & have dedicated decades to researching motorcycle culture & history. I gifted a 3' bronze Death Head the the Oakland chapter for their 50th anniversary. Sonny is an acquaintance, and I hate to see his life story or that of the HA in general, dumbed down for a hollywood palate. I saw first hand as a motorcycle/car wrangler on the World's Fastest Indian how clueless the set dresser was & how every scene at Bonneville was filled with extras, as if it were Disneyland and not the ghost town those events really were/are. I own the world's largest collection of bygone 1%er club colors, and could add to the authenticity of the project if it is relevant to whom ever is reading, that matters. I can provide accurate motorcycles, wear & advice applicable to the early pre-franchise era of 1%ers clubs. Jeff
Jeff Decker on Jun 19, 2009
Thompson book about spending time with Barger and the biker gang. After Barger's book was first released in 2000, it skyrocketed onto the New York Times Bestseller's List and was quickly optioned by Fox.
led panel on Jun 20, 2009
the whole hells angel glamorization is way over rated. watch these clowns flex their muscles for a week and see just what kind of slime your watching. does not matter if their alone or in their group. remember this fact! there rapists,drug dealers,thief's,murders to name a few. why would you want to glorify this type of behavior?
anti-angel on Jun 20, 2009
OH come on still this phoney hangaround IF YOUR GOING TO MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT THE REAL HELLS ANGELS AND THE REAL FAMILY THEN COME TO US FOR A REAL STORY !!! NOT SOME WANNABE HOOD RALPH BARGER THAT IS A TOTAL DISGRACE AND SNITCH ON THE HELLS ANGELS, ANY1 WHO LIKES HIM AND HIS JUNK OUT OF HIS MOUTH R JUST LIKE HIM - NO CLASS PERIOD. THIS WILL BE A WASTE OF FILM MONEY AND TIME AND I'M SURE ILL FIND SOMETHING IN IT TO SUE OVER TO GET SOME $$$ BACK. THAT YOU STOLE FROM ME IN THE FIRST PLACE THAT WAS FOR MY KIDS YOU BUMS !!! AS WELL AS OTHER MEMBERS THAT THIS AND OTHER CLUBS WERE FOUNDED ON TO HELP, NOT TO HOARD AND SHOW OFF I'M A RICH GANGSTER. LOL REAL GANGSTERS ARE LIKE MY GREAT UNCLE LUCKY YOU FAKE RALPH BARGER FROM A FAKE AND LOSER FAMILY IS ALL YOU ARE. AND YOU CAN BET YOUR LUCKY STARS I WILL AND MY DOG WILL PISS ON YOUR HEADSTONE ON A REGULAR BASES AS WELL AS THE INBREEDS THAT BRED YOU. HAHA FOLKS PAY ATTENTION HERE --- HE IS NOT (Ralph Barger or any1 that follows this fake wannabe) WHAT THE HELLS ANGELS ARE AND WERE MADE IN 1948 AT MY UNCLE BILL'S HOUSE ( YEP BILL SECREST OF HENDERSON, NV HE'S 96 NOW AND MY UNCLE JACK - REAL NAME JOHN SECREST A REAL FLYING ACE W/ OVER 15 JAPANESE KILLS. AS WELL AS MY OTHER UNCLE, GEORGE ( FRENCHY OF THE ORIGINAL HELLS ANGELS AND A DECORATED ARCADIA, CA POLICE OFFICER AND THEIR OTHER FRIENDS ARE THE REAL HELLS ANGELS, PANDAS, ADAM AND EVES SQUADS TOO , AND AS WELL AS OUR GREAT GRANDFATHER GENERAL CLAIR CHENAULT. PLEASE STOP WITH NONESENCE AND WITH THE HUNTER THOMPSON LIES THAT HAVE WRECKED MY FAMILY REP FOR FAME SEEKER AND FORTUNE AND LIARS LIKE BARGER AND CLAPP HIS BUDDIE LAWYER BOTH WHO ARE NOT HELLS ANGELS OR EVER IN OUR EYES !!! WE HAVE ASKED IN A POLITE MANNER MANY TIMES TO STOP WITH THE LIES AND STOP TELLING OTHERS YOU FOUNDED AND OUR HELLS ANGELS YOUR NOTHING CLOSE THATS FOR SURE. THE FOUNDERS OF THE BIG FOUR AND THE CHILDREN OF ALL OF THIS, "AMERICA CORP" IS WHAT IT IS REALLY FOLKS, THEIR FOOLING YOU ALL NOW SINCE 2001. ACTUALLY SINCE 1964, WHEN THEY BROKE UP OUR MONOPOLY READ HISTORY TO FIND OUT MORE. THE FAMILY TRUST GIVES OUT SCHOLARSHIPS TO MANY STUDENT LOANS UNDER MANY NAMES. WE KNOW AND HAVE A DIFFERENT WAY OF HOW THIS & THESE CLUBS SHOULD BE AND SHOULD NOT BE LIKE. THIS THEFT AND LIAR, FAKE, UN-AMERICAN HATER AND KILLER OF KIDS ! RALPH BARGER WHO STOLE THE IDEA AND USING IT ALL THE WRONG WAY NOW SINCE 1958 AFTER COMING TO DINNER IN MY AUNTS HOUSE AND SEEING THE VEST !!! BARGER YOU ARE A LIAR PERIOD AND YOU ARE NOT MY FATHER OR UNCLE AS YOU HAVE TOLD MANY TO GET YOUR WAY. THE DEATHHEAD AS OTHERS OF THE BIG FOUR MYSELF AT 6 YRS OLD AND MY DAD THE REAL CO- FOUNDER OF H.A.'S AND FOUNDER OF OTHER BIG 3 JOSEPH MESSINA, SON OF ANDREA MESSINA OF NEW JERSEY "MESSINA & SONS ", MESSINA METALS, MY DAD JOSEPH AND ME MADE THOSE PATCHES FROM THE ARMY NAVY STORE IN EL MONTE ON VALLEY BLVD, AND OTHER PLACES, AND THEN A FRIEND OF HIS , A WOMAN FRIEND OF THE FAMILY MADE THE FINAL PATCHES FROM THE ORIGINAL PROTOS WE MADE. DAD ALSO DID THE UPDATED SKULL AND WHY THE WAR BONNET FEATHERS ??? BECAUSE WE HAVE 14 INDIAN NATIONS IN THIS FAMILY FROM BLOOD AND MARRIAGE, WHY THE NAZI CROSS BECAUSE ACTUALLY IT WAS TO BRING BACK THE HONER TO THE NAVAJO FAMILY, THE FALLING STAR OF LIFE, INSTEAD OF SOME POSER LIKE HITLER THAT BARGER MISUSED AND CAUSE UNDO-UNFAIR HARM TO OTHERS FOR THERE OWN GREED AND POWER BY MISUSING GREAT SYMBOLS OF LIFE AND HISTORY OF GOOD PEOPLE AND THEIR HISTORY, SO NOW YOU KNOW A LITTLE OF THE REAL HELLS ANGELS HISTORY NOT THIS FAKE STUFF YOU THE PUBLIC HAVE HAD TO ENDURE BECAUSE OF A SNITCH AND GREEDY LAW PEOPLE MAKING JOBS AND HYPING THE CLUBS OUT, EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A STAR. LOL WE ARE KNIGHTS IN TARNISH ARMOUR FOR THE PEOPLE , TO HELP AND SUPPORT THE CHILDREN THE FAMILIES, THE EDERLY, THE VETS COMING HOME !!!, A SOCIAL CLUB FOR ALL THE PEOPLE WAS THE IDEA, NOT JUST A FEW AND A RICH FEW !!! AND WE ARE HERE FOR THOSE THAT CAN'T DEFEND THEMSELVES. THATS WHATS THESE CLUBS WERE FOUNDED ON !!! NOT DRUGS, DEATH, AND OTHER BULL AS YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD THE, PUBLIC WHICH HAS BEEN LIED TOO AND MANIPLATE FOR MONEY AND FAME FOR A FEW (BOTH IN LAW AND THE CLUBS THEY DO HAVE IT GOING ON FOLKS, ITS A RACKET NOW THE GOV. AND SNITCHES HAVE IT ALL NOW LOL ). I AS WELL AS THE REAL CLUB MEMBER GET NOTHING OF ALL THIS MERCHANDISING, IN FACT I'M DISABLED AND STRUGGLE VERY HARD, BECAUSE OF UNFAIR ASSET SEIZURES WHILE JOKERS LIKE BARGER RUN AROUND. FROM HIM AND OTHERS WE SUFFER WHILE THEY SNITCH AND LIE TO HAVE A JOB AND CAREER SAYING I STARTED THE HELLS ANGELS WHILE THE REAL FOLKS HERE ARE POOR FROM THIS AND HAVE TO HIDE , VERY UNFAIR TO THE KIDS OF THIS FAMILY BARGER. HOW BOUT SOME OF THAT $$$$ BACK YOU ARE STEALING FROM US WITH TEE SHIRT SALES AND MOVIES NOW YOU ARE SUCH A JOKE. YOU SUPPORT WHAT FITS YOU AND WHAT GAINS YOU'LL GET FROM IT. MY TROUBLES AND BATTLES WITH THESE CLUBS AND LAW FROM THE START. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT, THIS IS BASED ON HONER OF A FEW FROM FLYING ACES (my family members) KEEPING THE REAL AMERICAN LEGEND ALIVE, BARGER IS NOT A LEGEND BUT ONLY A CROOK , THEFT , LIAR , AND KILLER ! A TOTAL NO GOOD BUM PERIOD. THE FARTHEST FROM BEING A REAL AMERICAN. AND SINCE 1985 A SNITCH FOR THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST CLUB MEMBERS SETTING THEM UP AND THE FIGHTS GOING ON BETWEEN THE CLUBS FOR PROFIT AND JOBS. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND OR SUPPORT ANY OF BARGER OR HIS COLLEGES NONSENSE, WE DONT ! BOYCOTT THIS BUM AND THE STUDIOS FOR BACKING UP A LIAR AND THEFT AND HATER. THE FOUNDERS, REAL AMERICANS OUR HERTIAGE GOES ALL THE WAY BACK TO THOMAS LEE FOUNDER AND DRAFT WRITER OF THE ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION WHO HIS GRANDSON HENRY "LIGHTFOOT" LEE SAW TO IT, WITH THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, OUR GREAT GRANDFATHERS THAT'S WHO WE ARE FOLKS AND VERY PROUD OF IT. NOW WHY WOULD WE FOUND A CLUB OR CLUBS BASED ON ALL THINGS AGAINST AMERICA, LIKE BARGER AND HIS FRIENDS IN THE CLUBS. WHEN WE STARTED AMERICA THINK ABOUT IT THE REAL FIRST FAMILY OF AMERICA FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE.
THE REAL FAMILY YOU STOLE FROM AND TRIED TO KILL US on Jun 21, 2009
Jesus Christ but you do ramble on don't you. With all those important family connections, you would think someone would have taught you how to spell and use correct grammar.
AFFA on Jan 26, 2011
Well, this is what happens when notable gangs give up their banging lifestyle in favor of internet bullying.
Smokachu on May 4, 2011
the dude who posted above me. you've lost your goddamn tits.
Roberto Dinamite on Jun 21, 2009
When are they going to quit talking about this movie and just make it? I am really looking forward to seeing it, and when it does finally does come out, I hope it is realistic and not weird. If Sonny is in charge, he probably will make sure its somewhat factual. I am glad to hear that it is Sonny's story as opposed to Hunter Thompson's, because we would miss a lot of events that had not happened yet when the book was written (ie Altamont).
billy jack on Aug 11, 2009
#9, virtually everything you stated about Barger could well be said for Christie(who I've dealt with and never liked) If anyone's a paper tiger it's Christie. Gimme a fuckin break. *sigh*
Elian on Oct 20, 2009
It is a shame how all those innocent ? small bike clubs are such punks and cowards that they follow the hells angels like little lost sheep. http://www.topix.com/forum/city/bridgewater-nj/TEE9A849K3QUG7KR8#lastPost How can these bikers? support Hells angels after reading facts . The angels cannot even point their chicken fingers at any club that has a larger percent of members that harm rape molest and murder American women and children all over America then the USA Hells angels. when I talk about the large Percent of crimes committed by Hells angels . The hells angels and their pets in the small clubs are fast to include all bikers. These small clubs want to share space with the Hells angels the Police should arrest the Hells angels supporters as accomplices to all the crimes the hells angels commit. With out all these spineless aged 40+ freaks that support USa HA ,the punks of the USA hells angels would have no one to hide behind. As everyone knows the USA Hells angels are a gang of out of shape cowards that cannot fight, think,eat, sleep with out the help from the men in those small clubs that date and support hells angels. At what point will these spineless bikers tell hells angels enough is enough? I blame those spineless support clubs for all the USA women and children that have been harmed raped molested and murdered by the USA hells angels .
Spencer on Nov 19, 2009
didn't george get busted dealing drugs to kids in school or something like that ? George was a bro of that Nevada hells angels President busted with I think the news said thousands of organized and labeled child pornography pictures? is that right .? I don't see any respect due for any hells angels .
Durango on Nov 19, 2009
Outlaw Jones you sound like a man that dates and supports hells angels. Go get em Tiger LOL you pathetic freak.
Spencer on Nov 19, 2009
its truley amazing to me how much people are haters of truth as for the person who says "my uncles" founded the hells angels i truley feel pitty for you because all you can do is sit on your pitty pot and bitch like a hormonal old woman everyone in this life has a story to tell just because sonny used his wits and was able to capitolize on his story and lets not all forget it is HIS! story to tell not yours doesnt give you the right to talk about evil or bad let he without sin cast the first stone wher were you when all this so called bad was taking place hidding i would emagine thats what yellow bellied cowards do absolutly nothing if you would have been done such an injustice as you claim then why didnt you do something about it! had it not been for ralph's inteligence wich he accuierd durring his subaticle wile payinmg his debt to society that we the peple agreed was adiquat enough to satisfy the courts and justice system wich by the way what have you done latley! to improve america you claim to be so steadfast for wile you let the so caldled bad man conqure your "uncles and your heritage" i keep asking myself what was your price they paid to get you out of the way so the hells angels could be come and then bring itself full circle to become what today i am proud to say does represent my america sony brought the club and other chapters from out of the bowels of hell and now they all stand rightous and now have a code of ethics they live by ???? wher were you and your uncles hidding then because you should go back under your lying rock you crawled out from. love your life sony tonsoffun!
tonsoffun on Dec 24, 2009
i bartend at local pub. And the other day i had a couple of hells angles in my bar. to be honest with you some of the greatest ppl i have ever met
steph on Jan 23, 2010
It's just a movie about a pivotal person in America's sub-culture. Who cares if the HA do good or bad, its still an interesting story about a man who organized the club and got it to where it is today. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on you still gotta give respect where it is deserved. There isnt a person alive that rides a bike that hasnt deep down inside, wished they could have ridden in a pack of HA back in the 60's!!! If you say no then you are a lier.
Dirk on Jan 27, 2010
Spencer sounds like a smelly used tampon that came from an inbred family himself. How dare u call any of the Hells Angels or their wifes, and children those things. I'll have you know I am an ivy league graduate of medical school, in my 2nd year of residency. You obviously are so uneducated, you are beneath me. My birthfather rides among them. Was my mother raped? HELL NO!! She fell in love with one of them many years ago. Does that make her a bad person? HELL NO!! Watch your language! She's passed on! I've never had the pleasure of meeting my father, but I know about him. I know my mother loved him. I carry his last name with great pride! You truly know nothing about the H.A.'S you and the haters. So quit fucking whining and crying about how they allegedly robbed you and your family. Get a job, get a life, and get the fuck over it! I mean really, for real how old are you? Save the drama for your momma! Keep your subscriptions to yourself, cuz we don't want your issues! Oh! One more thing for all you jealous haters out there, if you dislike the HELLS ANGELS so much why are you wasting your energy? Get a hobby, go fuck yourself! This is a capitolistic country! HELLO!
Randanae Barger on Jan 31, 2010
Couldn't have said it any better myself Randanae! just a jealous little shyt who couldn't hang w/a girls softball team!! God bless!
Dennis Johnston on May 21, 2012
It's about time to take back what we should have!! HAMC knows what it is about!! Fuck the screws and FUCK THE GOV IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
dropkick on Feb 14, 2010
Dirk...you got it right man, and I wouldn't mind riding with them now. Doesn't mean I want to be a HA, just means that I don't judge people until they screw me. I am sure there are good and bad dudes in that club, just as there are in our government or any other organization.
billy jack on Mar 30, 2010
Mickey Rourke. Perfect casting.
Silas on May 3, 2010
"Mickey Rourke. Perfect casting.." Who, ironically, or maybe not ironically, has been a close friend of George Christie's for many years - something Mickey is fond of telling people.
big downer on May 3, 2010
But some websites say its gonna be mostly fictional, and about a cop infiltrating the HA's. I thought this was a true story about Sonny's life with the club? Who cares about another cheesey fake Biker movie. The true story of the creation and life of the club would be very interesting.
billy jack on May 10, 2010
if you know anything about sonny barger you know sean penn is the only guy who could pull this off. he is sonnts size and his acting is by far the best in hollywood. if tony scott doesnt take a look at penn he will be sadly making a big mistake. this is a movie that has to be done right and sean can deliver a home run here hands down. i love mickey’s work he is one of my all time favs but as sonny its just wrong but i would love to see him play 1 of the other hells angel roles since there will be many parts. if you see younger photos of sonny you will see how sean penn could capture the flavor ddr
dean delray on May 11, 2010
if you know anything about Sonny you may have to get a guy with a bioched sex change operation to get that 3rd hole.
Mike on May 24, 2010
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.