LIFE Rides With Hells Angels

  • Benedict Cosgrove

In early 1965, LIFE magazine photographer Bill Ray and writer Joe Bride spent weeks with dozens of Hells Angels in California. Ray's photos never ran in the magazine. Here they are, along with the story of Bill's and Joe's (mis)adventures.

Ray and Bride recall the days and nights they spent spent with Buzzard, Hambone, Big D and other Angels (as well as their equally tough “old ladies”) at a time when the roar of Harleys and the sight of long-haired bikers was still new and for the average, law-abiding citizen almost unfathomable. The day-to-day existence of these leather-clad reprobates was as foreign to most of LIFE's millions of middle-class readers as the lives of, say, Borneo’s headhunters, or nomads of the Gobi Desert.