Hunter S. Thompson Gets Confronted by The Hell’s Angels: Where’s Our Two Kegs of Beer? (1967)

In 1965, the edi­tor of The Nation asked Hunter S. Thomp­son to write a sto­ry about the Hel­l’s Angels Motor­cy­cle Club, as they’re offi­cial­ly known. The assign­ment even­tu­al­ly yield­ed the arti­cle, “The Motor­cy­cle Gangs” (read it online), which became the basis for the 1966 book, Hel­l’s Angels: A Strange and Ter­ri­ble Saga. It was Thomp­son’s first book, and Amer­i­ca’s first real intro­duc­tion to Thomp­son’s Gonzo-style jour­nal­ism. Review­ing the book for The New York Times, Leo Lit­wak wrote:

Hunter Thomp­son entered this ter­ra incog­ni­ta [the world of the Hel­l’s Angels] to become its car­tog­ra­ph­er. For almost a year, he accom­pa­nied the Hel­l’s Angels on their ral­lies. He drank at their bars, exchanged home vis­its, record­ed their bru­tal­i­ties, viewed their sex­u­al caprices, became con­vert­ed to their motor­cy­cle mys­tique, and was so intrigued, as he puts it, that “I was no longer sure whether I was doing research on the Hel­l’s Angels or being slow­ly absorbed by them.” At the con­clu­sion of his year’s tenure the ambi­gu­i­ty of his posi­tion was end­ed when a group of Angels knocked him to the ground and stomped him…

Hunter Thomp­son has pre­sent­ed us with a close view of a world most of us would nev­er dare encounter, yet one with which we should be famil­iar. He has brought on stage men who have lost all options and are not rec­on­ciled to the loss. They have great resources for vio­lence which does­n’t as yet have any effec­tive focus. Thomp­son sug­gests that these few Angels are but the van­guard of a grow­ing army of dis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed, dis­af­fil­i­at­ed and des­per­ate men. There’s always the risk that some­how they may force the wrong options into being.

This clip above, which aired on Cana­di­an tele­vi­sion in 1967, describes the cir­cum­stances that led to the Angels giv­ing HST a beat down. The misog­y­ny that’s on dis­play as the bik­er tells the sto­ry will make you shud­der. Even worse are the laughs from the 1960s, but­toned-down crowd.

As for whether the Angels ever got their two kegs of beer, I don’t know.

Note: You can down­load Thomp­son’s Hel­l’s Angels: A Strange and Ter­ri­ble Saga as a free audio­book if you sign up for a 30-Day Free Tri­al with Audi­ble. Find more infor­ma­tion on that pro­gram here.

Relat­ed Con­tent

Read 18 Lost Sto­ries From Hunter S. Thompson’s For­got­ten Stint As a For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent

Read 11 Free Arti­cles by Hunter S. Thomp­son That Span His Gonzo Jour­nal­ist Career (1965–2005)

Free Online: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as It Was Orig­i­nal­ly Pub­lished in Rolling Stone

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