At the young age of 18, Ralph “Sonny” Barger already had a colorful story. In 1955, he enlisted in the army, only to be honorably discharged fourteen months later when they discovered he was only 16.
He then made a name for himself as one of the most well-known outlaw bikers in the country, founding the Oakland, California, chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
After penning five books, advising on a variety of movies and TV shows (including Sons of Anarchy), battling throat and prostate cancer, and a lifetime with the infamous motorcycle club, Sonny Barger died on June 29, 2022, at the age of 83.
The news of his death was met with an outpouring of love and support from admirers all over the world. Barger had touched the lives of so many, in fact, that his funeral was held at the Stockton 99 Speedway, as organizers had to prepare for a far greater attendance than a typical mournful gathering.
Keep in mind that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has well over 400 chapters worldwide. And of its thousands of members, Sonny Barger was both the most well-known and the one held in the highest esteem.
Sonny Barger’s Funeral Draws Thousands of Attendees
Officially, the Stockton 99 Speedway has a capacity of only 5,000, as it was built way back in early 1947. And the funeral of Sonny Barger well exceeded this number, drawing around 7,000 people.
The funeral had such a high attendance of bikers that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office began to worry about safety. “I am bringing in substantial resources to protect the safety of the general public from the violence and danger that may result from this event,” Sheriff Pat Withrow explained in a press conference.
Thankfully, however, there were no confrontations or acts of violence whatsoever. Instead, attendees simply shared heartfelt stories and experiences with Barger while respectfully mourning the loss of the beloved biker.
“Even though he was blind in one eye and he packed his oxygen, well… When his kickstand went up, you better catch up,” one attendee reminisced.
Photos of the Funeral Show Countless Bikers in Mourning
The photos of Sonny Barger’s funeral are truly a sight to behold, with countless leather-clad bikers gathered to pay their respects to the late Hells Angels founder.
“Very, very nice man,” another attendee told ABC10. “Nothing but love for him. It’s very sad that he passed away. I’ve known about him since before I owned a motorcycle. The day I got to meet him was probably one of the most memorable days of my motorcycle riding career.”
“There’s [no violence] going on,” he continued. “I came up here with open arms, ready to show my condolences. Unfortunate as it is, he brought a lot of people together today to show the love and support he built. It was really nice to see all the people that want to show love.”