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Sonny Barger, leader of Hells Angels, dies of cancer at age 83

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels who became the face of the motorcycle club, has died at the age of 83.

In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Barger announced his own death from cancer. 

"If you are reading this message, you'll know that I'm gone. I've asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing," the post read. "I've lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I've had the privilege to be part of an amazing club." 

Barger became the Hells Angels national president in 1958 when the founder of the original San Bernardino chapter, Otto Friedli, went to prison. Once at the helm, Barger moved the club's headquarters from San Bernardino to Oakland.

Sonny Barger in 2000 Corbis Historical/Getty Images

The Hells Angels became a cultural force in the U.S. during Barger's long tenure, even as Barger himself was prosecuted for various crimes, serving stints in prison but also avoiding convictions in other cases. 

Barger has appeared in movies and television, including the FX drama "Sons of Anarchy" in 2010 and the 1967 Jack Nicholson film "Hells Angels on Wheels."  He also appeared in "Gimme Shelter," the 1970 documentary on the Altamont Free Concert where Hells Angels members provided security and a concert-goer was stabbed to death.

He was also featured prominently in Hunter S. Thompson's book, "Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs."

Barger's Facebook post said he was surrounded by his wife Zorana and his loved ones when he passed but it did not say where he died.

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