How do we remember the old perception of bikers? The first real public perception that they had become a menace to society was the so-called "pitched battles" with the Mods in the mid 60`s. There was a couple of confrontations in seaside towns but the whole image of the hostility between Mods, scooter riders, and the Rockers, bike riders, was blown out of proportion by the media, obviously in desperate search for a new "menace." Before the "Rocker" tag took off, most bikers gathered at all night cafes, and created the cafe racer scene.
But later in the 60`s, with tales of the Hells Angels crossing the Atlantic, the perceived view as Rockers fighting with Mods and burning up the roads, changed to a much more sinister side with them viewed as violent, raping thugs, that nobody was safe from. Bike clubs sprang up all over Britain. Many were simple bike riders, there are many owners clubs, concentrating on specific makes of bikes, and there were the ones trying to ape Marlon Brando. Soon, all dirty looking or rowdy bikers were referred to as "Hells Angels."
The truth is that to be called Hells Angels, you have to be ratified by the Angels Head Chapter, and that is the Oakland Chapter, for a long time, headed by Ralph "Sonny" Barger, and each club had to have a set structure of command and rules. The Angels logo and name is copyrighted worldwide, so no traders can use certain logos or names without their permission.
I remember many years back in Ellesmere Port, that some bikers were in court a number of times, and when the local paper talked of "Hells Angels" and the trouble they had caused, the usual names popped up. One was a lad called Mike Turner who lived across the road from me. basically, it was a case of them going out and "Raising hell!" A few years later, around 70/71, a car pulled out in front of him, so he swerved to avoid it but collided with a lamp-post, sustaining very serious injuries. He died a couple of days later. His funeral was attended by over forty bikers.
On the more serious level of outlaw biker, there are a few lads who are members of Satans Slaves. One lived a couple of streets away from me. I also came into contact with a guy who was a member of The Outlaws, North Wales Chapter. This came through my post round, as I delivered to his parents and I spoke to him a number of times when he was there. A large club was running around the area for some years, and that was the Wheelwrights MCC. This was centred around the Wheelwrights Arms pub in Elton, just outside the Port. Two of my brothers were members. It grew into a huge club, but declined over the years. They did hold a competition for the best kept bike. This was in August 76, and the winner was a guy from Wallasey with an immaculate black Matchless 500. Aaahh, memories!