The Hells Angels: The Truth Behind The Controversial Motorcycle Club

When most people mention the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, it’s not usually met with positivity. The group is notorious for generating headlines that make it seem like they promote violence and criminal activity. That hasn’t always been the case. The group started out in the 1940s as a simple motorcycle club that would connect veterans.

It evolved into a part of the 1960s counter-culture, and from there took on new meaning from news events and popular culture interpretations of the group. Here’s the story of how the Hells Angels became the bike club you read about today.

Hells Angels’ Humble Beginnings

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The Hells Angels were founded on March 17, 1948, to create a sense of belonging for a group of individuals who longed for comradery after the war. Its founders included the Bishop family, as well as many other World War II veterans who had come from other biker clubs.

Its start wasn’t initially for “criminal” or “gang” related activities, as some might be inclined to believe. In reality, a post-war boom of motorcycles made it easier to buy them, and post-war soldiers wanted a shared activity that would bring them together when they came home.