Danny Lyon | The Outlaw Motorcycle Club | Bikeriders | The Hells Angels
I have just discovered the super famous photographer and film maker Danny Lyon, who created a book, portraying his study of The Outlaw Motorcyclists, called the Bikeriders (1967). Danny Lyon photographed The Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club from within the motorcycle gang as he actually became a member. Let’s be honest, as motorcycle fanatics, this is an adventure we all dream of. Danny Lyon travelled with The Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club for a few years, sharing their lifestyle, which apparently included drug trafficking, prostitution and murder. Danny Lyon explained that the photographs were “an attempt to record and glorify the life of the American bikerider.”
As a British motorcyclist, it’s hard for me to imagine being in a motorcycle gang, riding around, taking women and drugs as and when I like, that stuff belongs in the movies, but this really happened. Incorporated in 1935, The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (or American Outlaws Association, A.O.A) was and still is a one percenter motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate. I know this is meant to be bad, but lets face it, we’re all reading this thinking how cool it would be to be in a one-percenter motorcycle gang, doing what you want when ever you want.
“Angels Die In Outlaw States”
With-in the world of motorcycle gangs, it’s said that 99% of the gang/club members live within the rules of the law, the rest, however, are the 1% who live their lives involved in highly criminal activity. As with the legitimate business world, when there is money involved, competition exists. The main rivals of The Outlaws Motorcycle Club were and are still said to be The Hells Angels, who of course need no introduction. The Outlaws used an acronym for The Hells Angels, ADIOS – Angels Die In Outlaw States, this is real people, I know it sounds like fairy tale stuff, and that’s why I love it so much.
So, in terms of photography, Danny Lyon clearly proved how serious he was about is work, he joined The Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club and did what ever they did. Whether or not we should admire this is a difficult question to answer, but in this dull existence we call modern day life, it certainly has a strong attraction for those of us who crave freedom and adventure. Although, The Swansea Outlaws Motorcycle Club admittedly doesn’t quit have the same ring to it.