DANNY LYON ran with the Chicago Outlaws for his 1967 book, Bikeriders, a documentary in pictures of the gang from 1963-67, which captured the spirit and freedom of the rogue American motorcyclist. Concurrently, and following a feature article on the California Angels in The Nation in 1965, Hunter S. Thompson - the king of 'gonzo' journalism - spent a further year with those bikers only to come unstuck when they realised he would be making money from the association. Thompson survived the 'stomping' he got from the gang and his book was published by Random House as Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in 1966.
Although a fully recognised and official sector of the Hells Angels international association, the UK branch of the club gets little recognition by comparison. This has been rectified by Andrew Shaylor, whose unique photo-essay is introduced by the big chief of the club - and a legend in his own lifetime - Sonny Barger. This is the first collection of photographs on the British HAMCF to be published and Shaylor enjoyed the full co-operation of the guys in the various UK chapters, with only a couple of exceptions. It is a terrific achievement and the result of four years dedicated work. From the origins of the first chapter in 1969, bearing an official charter from the parent gang in the USA, the British wing of the HAMC has spread across England and faithfully follows the precepts of the Angels philosophy. Naturally, the Angels in the UK look every bit as intimidating as their California brethren and the motorcycles equally as brilliant, but as Sonny Barger notes in the prologue: 'if you are friendly and lucky enough to get to know us, then you will discover how witty and charming we really are.' And just who is going to stand up to disagree with him?