The Life and Legacy of Sonny Barger: Exploring His Net Worth and Impact on Motorcycle Culture
Sonny Barger, born Ralph Hubert Barger, was a renowned American biker, actor, and writer. As a founding member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Oakland, California, he earned a reputation as a key figure in biker culture. Let’s delve into Sonny Barger’s net worth, early life, and professional journey.
Born on October 8, 1938, in Modesto, California, USA, Sonny Barger was the child of Robert Varger and Kathryn Carmella. Little is known about his family, but some sources suggest that his father struggled with alcoholism, and his mother abandoned the family when he was only four years old. Barger and his sister were raised by their father.
During his school years, Barger was involved in fights and even assaulted teachers, leading to multiple expulsions. Over time, he lost interest in school and spent most of his time working at a grocery store. Despite this, he attended Oakland High School in 1954 and founded the Earth Angels group.
In 1955, Sonny joined the army and served for fourteen months before being discharged due to a fraudulent birth certificate. Afterward, he held various jobs before joining a local motorcycle club.
Sonny Barger’s journey into the world of motorcycle clubs began in 1956 when he joined the Oakland Panthers. He later co-founded the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club with a group of close friends. The club soon became a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club.
Under Barger’s leadership, the Oakland Charter donned an enlarged version of the Death’s Head patch, known as the Barger Larger. Hunter S. Thompson, a famous American journalist and author, spent years with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members to write his book “Hell’s Angels,” published in 1967.
Barger made a brief appearance in the 1967 film “Hells Angels on Wheels,” directed by Richard Rush. The following year, he and the Hells Angels were mentioned in Tom Wolfe’s nonfiction book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which chronicled the adventures of Ken Kesey and his followers, the Merry Pranksters. In 1970, Barger played a role in the movie “Hell’s Angels ’69.”
His gang was also present at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, a rock concert that took place on December 6, 1969, in California, United States. Additionally, he appeared in the 1970 documentary film “Gimme Shelter,” produced by British and American filmmakers.
Barger moved from Oakland to Cave Creek, Arizona, in 1988 and became an active member of the local Hells Angels Chapter. He later appeared in the American action crime series “Sons of Anarchy,” notably in the third season’s final episode and the fifth season’s tenth episode.
Sonny Barger’s Net Worth and Passing
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Sonny Barger had a net worth of $500,000 before his passing on June 29, 2022, at the age of 83. Barger’s notoriety as the original Hells Angel allowed him to explore other ventures, such as books, films, and television, which contributed significantly to his wealth.
In a pre-written statement posted by his family on Facebook, Barger announced his death after a “brief battle with cancer.” He had previously overcome throat cancer in 1983, which required the removal of his vocal cords. Barger eventually learned to communicate using his stomach muscles.
Sonny Barger’s Legacy
Despite his success and impact on motorcycle culture, Sonny Barger was a controversial figure due to the Hells Angels’ worldwide notoriety. He founded the Hells Angels in 1957 after the disbandment of his previous motorcycle group, the Oakland Panthers. The group became instantly recognizable as its members sported the iconic skull patch on their biker jackets.
Barger had numerous encounters with law enforcement and served jail time on several occasions. His longest sentence began in 1973, when he served four and a half years of a ten-year sentence for possession of narcotics and a weapon.
Despite these controversies, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club continues to be active around the globe. According to its official website, the club currently has 467 charters in 59 countries worldwide.
Tributes to Sonny Barger
Following the announcement of Barger’s passing, numerous tributes poured in from fans and fellow bikers. In his statement, Barger expressed gratitude for the support of his wife Zorana and his loved ones, saying he passed “surrounded by what really matters.”
The heartfelt message also encouraged fans to “stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor.” At the time of writing, the statement had been shared over 17,000 times, with more than 24,000 comments paying tribute to the fallen Hells Angels founder.
On Twitter, fans also expressed their condolences, with one tweet reading: “RIP Sonny and ride on with the Angels.”
Sonny Barger’s life was filled with ups and downs, but his influence on motorcycle culture and his role as a founding member of the Hells Angels will continue to resonate. His net worth of $500,000 may not fully encapsulate the impact he had on the world of bikers, but it’s a testament to his lasting legacy.