Digging the music. Biker women in San Bernadino, 1965
The girl kneeling by the jukebox is Ruthie and she’s the ‘old lady’ of Harvey, a Diablos member from San Bernardino. Harvey attends Angels’ meetings and rides with them but is not a member. It’s only two in the afternoon but Ruthie has already ‘crashed’ from beer and bennies .”
On assignment for Life Magazine in 1965, photographer Bill Ray spent a month hanging out with the Mother Charter of the Hells Angels (est. 1948) in San Bernadino, California. Life never published the photos, though they’ve recently made them available on their website. Last year the photographs were collected in book form, Hells Angels Of San Berdoo, that you can buy here.
The photograph of the two biker chicks at the jukebox is one of Bill Ray’s favorites and mine too.
Bill Ray ruminates on the photo:
There’s something kind of sad and at the same time defiant about the atmosphere. Ruthie is probably playing the same 45 over and over and over again. A real music lover.”
While all of Ray’s photographs are extraordinarily expressive and strikingly composed, his shots of the women are the ones that really get to me. Badass, beautiful and forlorn. These chicks could eat today’s hipsters for breakfast. I want to know them.
Inside the Blackboard Cafe. Broken nose.