“Hell’s Angels ’69”: Sonny Barger and real Hell’s Angels on the streets of Mountain View, California

By on July 28, 2015

In 1969, the filmmakers working on a new biker flick put an an announcement in the local newspaper that a scene intended for their film was going to be shot on Castro Street in Mountain View, California. As this little bit of film footage shows, the Hell’s Angels “terrorizing” the good citizens of this small town had actually come out to watch the event, and so they ending up being extras in Hells Angels ’69, directed by Lee Madden, and starring Sonny Barger, Tom Stern, Jeremy Slate, and Conny Van Dyke.

The local scene of all this terrorizin’ has been identified as taking place on Castro Street and California Avenue, apparently not too far off from where the Angels had a house in Mountain View, on Avenue 237 which was called Mountain View/Alviso Road, although most of the action actually takes place not on the city streets but on a run to Las Vegas, where Stern and Slate (playing a couple of bikers from San Francisco) hook up with the Angels for a dangerous scheme: using the club’s trashing of a casino as a cover-up for a heist. As the tagline says, “This was the rumble that rocked Las Vegas!”

By the way, this wasn’t the first film to feature real Hell’s Angels — that credit goes to the 1967 film Hell’s Angels on Wheels — but, ‘69 was the first film where the boys actually got speaking parts, chiefly spoken by Angels president Ralph “Sonny” Barger and various members of the real original Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels (Charles “Magoo” Tinsley, John “Terry the Tramp” Tracy, Tiny Walters, and Clifford “Skip’ Workman).

Listen to the film’s radio ad here.

There’s also some additional bad assery shot around Red Rock Canyon State Park and in and around the old Caesars Palace on the strangely naked Vegas Strip of 1969.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Mike Carroll Jr.

    I seem to recall that ad in the paper, likely Sunnyvale Standard, seeking extras for a “motorcycle movie” to be filmed in downtown Mountain View.