Funeral for Hells Angels Founder Sonny Barger Expected to Draw Thousands

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo: Digital First Media Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images)

Nearly three months after the death of Hells Angels founder Sonny Barger, San Joaquin County in California is bracing for a huge turnout for the late biker’s funeral. 

According to Fox News, San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow has issued a warning to the public that Sonny Barger’s funeral has the capacity to not only be large but may also have some serious violence. The event is being held on Saturday (September 24th) from 2 pm. to 8 p.m. at the Stockton 99 Speedway on North Wilson Way. Withrow noted that he heard about the funeral plans at the end of August.

During a conference on Friday (September 23rd), Withrow shared his plans for the Sonny Barger funeral. “I am bringing in substantial resources to protect the safety of the general public from violence and danger that may result from this event.” 

As previously reported, Sonny Barger passed away on June 29th at the age of 83. Following his death, a pre-scheduled message from the Hells Angels founder was posted on Facebook. “If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing. I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club.”

Sonny Barger’s cause of death was liver cancer. However, there’s no other information about his passing. Barger originally started Hells Angels in 1957. The biker gang even inspired FX’s hit series Sons of Anarchy. Barger also starred in the series as Lenny the Pimp. 

Sonny Barger’s Memorial Service Was Originally Scheduled to Take Place in Oakland 

CBS News reports that originally, Sonny Barger’s memorial service was scheduled to take place in Oakland, California. However, it was eventually moved to Stockton 99 Speedway due to the anticipation of a larger crowd. 

The San Joaquin County Sheriff is continuing to urge everyone to stay away from the speedway during the memorial event. He also announced more information about how the country’s authorities are planning to prepare. “Additionally we have been working hand-in-hand with our neighboring agencies here in San Joaquin County,” he explained. “Should they need additional resources and manpower for the violence that may spread out in our community after this event.” 

The cause of concern is not entirely unwarranted. Sonny Barger’s Hells Angels obviously has an infamous and violent history. In a 2000 interview, Barger tried to downplay the biker gang’s reputation. “They say we’re organized crime, but if you took every Hells Angels on the face of the Earth and got rid of them, you wouldn’t drop the crime rate in the world one-tenth of one percent. We’re a little drop in the bucket. There’s more cops committing crimes than Hells Angels.”