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Issue 3 - March 1972
Hells Angels
Bari the Clown lives with a pretty, blonde chick, who never speaks unless spoken to, in a Newcastle bedsit. At 35, he has been a mercenary soldier in the Congo, done three years service in the regular army and been president of the Birmingham Hells Angels for 17 years. He now works as an hors d'oeuvres chef in a top Newcastle restaurant.

The first thing that struck me about him was that at 35, when most of his contemporaries were settled down to mortgages and pension schemes, Bari was still doing what turned him on without thought of dropping back in. The amazing thing about the Angels is that they are not a bunch of kids rebelling just for the hell of it, but a proved alternative lifestyle.

It's all too easy to condemn them as thugs or mindless cycle-freaks without realising that in the 50s and 60s when they got off the ground over here, there wasn't much going in the way of alternative scenes. They were the forerunners of our phun / dope / revolution culture of today.

Many pacificistic hippies would be wearing skull and crossbone emblazoned denims and riding cycles today, given Bari's slum background and environment. The Angels of yesterday and the freaks / heads of today are one 'n the same, 'cept in those days dropping out was tougher.

The following interview was recorded for Muther Grumble on Feb 10th.

Paul: What made you become an Angel?
Bari: It took class to wear filthy jeans and long hair in those days. Anyone could put on tight trousers and velvet collars, but it was something else to save up and buy a bike. Another reason was safety. If someone picks a fight with one Angel, they pick a fight with them all. People say we are cowards for fighting with knives and chains, but it takes a lot more guts to fight another bloke who's tooled up the same knowing that you're both gonna get fucked up really bad and end up in hospital.
Paul: How did you lose your finger (left index)?
Bari: In a fight. I've got a steel plate in my skull, a steel pin in my arm, a punctured lung and scars all over the place. If I ever rejoined the angels, they'd have to rivet me back together.
Paul: What made you leave the Angels?
Bari: Mainly a chick called Julie, but I'm on parole for GBH as well.
Paul: Have you ever tried any other drop-out cult?
Bari: Yeah, I tried flower-power a bit ago. It was OK - they were individuals, they wore what they liked and did what turned them on. We got into a fight eventually, so I gave it up. This may sound funny now, but what happened was that two of us would go round a dance hall offering flowers to people; if they didn't take them, the rest of us would come up behind and fuck them over.
Paul: How do Angels react to freaks and hippies?
Bari: They're OK. They don't bug us - we don't bug them. We regard them as a source of bread. Security at festivals, doing their heavy work for them etc. When you come down to it, there are two types of people - Angels and Citizens. If you're not an Angel you're a Citizen.
Paul: What do you think of the police?
Bari: It's like this. Angels put on a uniform, go out and stomp people who piss them off and get persecuted for it. Pigs put on a uniform, go out and stomp people who piss them off and get paid for it. If I had £1 for every time I've been kicked round a police cell I wouldn't need to work today. They never stop hounding you and calling round on petty excuses. They're all mutherfuckers.
Paul: What did you do in the Congo?
Bari: We got paid £200 a month and we were allowed to go into shops and take what we wanted to show the natives that we didn't take no guff. It was pretty good. I stuck that for 18 months.
Paul: What other countries have you visited?
Bari: I was in the States for 18 months with the Angels. I met Sonny Barger and Terry the Tramp. Sonny's dead now. It's fucking great over there. Everything's much more together. The Angels are a really organised bunch of guys. I worked on a snake farm for a long time. Reptiles are one of the things I know a lot about. Name any snake and I'll tell you about it.
Paul: Are the Angels over here as heavy as the Frisco chapters?
Bari: Some of them are really bad fuckers. My wife's boyfriend was killed in a shotgun and knife fight in a car park.
Paul: How did that happen?
Bari: He went over there with some mates to fuck over a rival gang but they were waiting tooled up. He got shot.
Paul: Last question Bari. Would you ever go back to the Angels?
Bari: I'd go back today, but like I said the hospitals would have to rivet me back together. The Angels are the baddest fuckers around but I could never turn my back on them.

Dats all for now.