The Sex and Savagery of Hell's Angels
New English Library, London, 1972
The blurb on the back:
They live on ton-up motorcycles - screaming across the roads of America, leaving behind a trail of drunken brawls, sexual assaults, destruction and terror.
One of the problems with the New English Library is that occasionally (very occasionally) they'll slip a good book out. But the cover, the style and the presentation will be as trashy as all the other stuff, so you've got no way of really knowing. This one's a case in point.
Originally published in America in 1966, it's written by Jan Hudson, who claimed to have been - at least for a while - an Angel himself, and was certainly more convincing on the subject than just about anyone else who had a go. This includes both Hunter S Thompson, whose more famous book followed and set the tone for many subsequent works, and the self-serving Sonny Barger.
None of which is intended to suggest that this is a serious sociological study. It's just as capable of indulging in celebration-posing-as-disapproval and in myth-making as anyone else, but it's got a touch of authenticity in key places (such as the Angels' place in US politics) and an awareness of history - the book starts back in the 1940s with a bikers' riot in Hollister, North California in either 1946 or 1947 depending on which sentence you're reading at the time.
Best of all it has a glossary - entitled 'How to talk like a Hell's Angel for fun and profit' - and a list of bike clubs that is a treasure trove for any band looking to revive 1960s punk: The Coffin Cheaters, The Stray Satans, The Devil's Henchmen, The Gypsy Outlaws...
Additional Note: Jan Hudson was a pseudonym used by the SF writer George H Smith. As so often, I am grateful to Ian Covell for drawing this to my attention.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 5/5
Bikers At War
some angelic fiction...