The term ‘1% Motorcycle Club’ is commonly used to describe outlaw motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels or the Banditos.
The expression ‘one percenter’ was coined when the American Motorcycle Association created it as a public relations campaign after a violent riot in Hollister, California in 1947 to show that the majority of motorcycle riders were law-abiding citizens. After the statement was made, the violent motorcycle gangs took the fact that they were ‘1%’ as a badge of honor.
After the end of World War II, a large number of ex-servicemen returned home and found that civilian life didn’t offer the same thrills as terrors of war. There were also a large number of military issued Harley Davidson motorcycles that were no longer needed in the peacetime.
Disenchanted thrill-seekers who could not adjust back to normal life found a way to satiate their longing for fraternity and to ease their boredom with motorcycle gangs.
A Hells Angels biker pops a wheelie while cruising through downtown Bakersfield, California. 1965. The LIFE Picture Collection
A member of the Hells Angels shows off his tattoo while hanging out with other members. Circa 1960s. all that is interesting
An injured member of the Hells Angels is carried out by police after getting into a brawl with security at the POP Festival in Weeley, Essex, England. August 28, 1971. Getty Images
Hells Angels members fight with pool cues during the Altamont Free Concert, for which the club was hired as security, in California on December 6, 1969. One concertgoer was beaten and stabbed to death by a Hells Angels member during the evening. all that is interesting
Hells Angels’ old ladies (girlfriends) sit during a rest stop on the group’s ride from San Bernardino to Bakersfield, California. 1965. all that is interesting
Members of the East Bay Dragons, one of the first all-black motorcycle clubs, pose outside a barbecue joint near Oakland, California. Circa 1970s. Flickr
Members of the Hells Angels ride from San Bernardino to Bakersfield, California. 1965. all that is interesting
Members of the NYC Hells Angels chapter gather near their Lower East Side clubhouse at the funeral of one of their members, Jeffrey “Groover” Coffrey, killed during a fight with another gang in Cleveland. March 11, 1971. Eight would-be mourners were forced to miss the ceremony for they were seized by police March 10 on charges arising from an alleged rape. All that is interesting
An Outlaw biker holding a gun during a bar brawl. The Outlaws, a hardcore motorcycle club, have a notorious reputation for drugs and violence. During the 1990s, power-hungry national president, Taco Bowman, takes the Outlaws to new depths of depravity and violence in his efforts to rid Outlaws territory of rival motorcycle clubs. National Geographic
A bearded Hells Angel waves from his bike as he and other members ride toward Bakersfield, California. 1965. The LIFE Picture Collection
A Hells Angels member grabs a beer during a break at a California rest stop. 1965. Getty Images
A Hells Angels member works on his bike on the streets of New York. Circa 1970s. New York Public Library
A Hells Angels member’s old lady (girlfriend) flips the bird while riding on the back of her man’s bike en route to Bakersfield, California. 1965. Getty Images
A member of the Devil’s Breed club poses with a nude woman on his bike. 1980. Flickr
A police officer questions a group of the Satan’s Slaves members during a ride through California. Date unspecified. Getty Images
An FBI agent leads a Hells Angels member — one of 17 arrested as part of a narcotics and weapons investigation — into a federal building for arraignment in Albany, New York on May 2, 1985. all that is interesting
An LA County sheriff questions a member of the Iron Horsemen alongside a California highway. 1965. Getty Images
An LA County Sheriff searches a Hells Angels’ member for illegal items during a ride from San Bernardino to Bakersfield, California. 1965. all that is interesting
An old lady of the Hells Angels wears a gang vest while relaxing on a picnic table at a California rest stop. 1965. Getty Images
California Hells Angels and old ladies hanging out outside their clubhouse sometime in the mid-1960s. Getty Images
Donald Deke Tanner, of the Outlaws club, stands with bar owner Kitty Randall after several of his brothers were arrested for a violent crime in Florida. 1967. Getty Images