Hells Angels Photos and Self-Portraits by Hunter S. Thompson

In 1965, the legendary Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson scored his first big break. As an assignment for The Nation, Hunter lived with the most notorious motorcycle gang in the United States. Random House published Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in 1966. Hunter’s year with the club ended in a “stomping” — the Angels beat him up, allegedly when his editor wouldn’t share the profits from the story.

Check out some casual shots of the outlaws setting off for a ride, dusted in brutal bravado and motorcycle exhaust, taken by Hunter himself. Observe Hunter’s self-portrait with his Hell’s Angels black-eye. Then, take a short trip to Big Sur in picturesque California, where the literary rebel worked as a security guard and penned The Rum Diary after returning from Puerto Rico and his long jaunt as a traveling journalist working for US publications abroad. These are just a few pages from the icon’s storied existence, but they’re pretty exciting.

Image credit: Hunter S. Thompson. Hell’s Angels, Start Up, California c. 1960s. Courtesy M+B Art