Vintage: Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray

Vintage: Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray


The Hells Angels are often depicted in semi-mythical romantic fashion like the 19th-century James–Younger Gang: free-spirited, iconic, bound by brotherhood and loyalty. At other times, such as in the 1966 Roger Corman film The Wild Angels, they are depicted as violent and nihilistic, little more than a violent criminal gang and a scourge on society.

The club became prominent within, and established its notoriety as part of, the 1960s counterculture movement in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene, playing a part at many of the movement’s seminal events. Members were directly connected to many of the counterculture’s primary leaders, such as Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Timothy Leary, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Mick Farren and Tom Wolfe.

In 1965, LIFE photographer Bill Ray spent weeks with the Hells Angels, but his photos never ran in the magazine.

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1965 by Bill Ray/Getty Images


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