How The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Works

Hells Angels Around the World

An RCMP officer stops an Alberta member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang at a roadblock after he left the White Rock chapter's property in Langley, British Columbia, on July 26, 2008.
AP Photo/Darryl Dyck

The Hells Angels philosophy will never be mistaken for mainstream, and yet it's struck a resonance and fascination that's gone global. To date, more than 100 Hells Angels chapters in 29 countries have been sanctioned by the organization.

New Zealand was the first country outside the United States to get an official Hells Angels chapter, in 1961. London became the first European beachhead for the Hells Angels in 1969 when George Harrison, of the rock group The Beatles, invited a couple of San Francisco club members to London. In fact, many musicians have held an affinity for the Hells Angels, and they're often hired as security at concerts.


And yet, news reports from Australia, to Germany, to Scandinavia and Canada relate tales of violence and criminality as the Hells Angels battle with other biker gangs. Usually at issue are turf matters or run-ins with law enforcement over the dealings of more than a few Angels in organized crime activities [source: James].

For instance, the Quebec Biker War in Canada waged between the Hells Angels and a rival group called the Rock Machine, spanned eight years and killed more than 150 people -- including innocent bystanders. In Europe at least, conflicts between Hells Angels and rival biker gangs have in the past escalated to the use of machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and car bombs.

For more information about motorcycles, gangs and other related topics, follow the links below.

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  • Cox, Diana. "Under watchful eye, bikers aid charity." Las Vegas Sun.  Sept. 4, 2008. (Oct. 21, 2009)
  • Drewery, George. "Skulls, Wings & Outlaws -- Motorcycle Club Insignia & Cultural Identity." University of Newcastle - School of Language and Media. 2003. (Oct. 26, 2009)
  • Dulaney, William L. "A Brief History of 'Outlaw' Motorcycle Clubs." International Journal of Motorcycle Studies. November 2005. (Oct. 19, 2009)
  • Hells Angels Motorcycle Club World. (Oct. 20, 2009)
  • Internet Movie Database. "The Wild One." (Oct. 23, 2009)
  • James, Randy. "A Brief History of the Hells Angels." Aug. 3, 2009. (Oct.19, 2009),8599,1914201,00.html
  • Marsden, William and Sher, Julius. "Angels of Death: Inside the Bikers Empire of Crime." Vintage Canada. March 2007. (Oct. 19, 2009)
  • Thompson, Tony. "Inside the biker gangs: the truth about guns, drugs and organised crime." Aug 14, 2007. (Oct. 24, 2009)