When I was in college, a friend lent me a copy of Hellâ€™s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson; once I started reading the book I couldnâ€™t put it down. Maybe it was Hunter S. Thompsonâ€™s inimitable writing style, maybe it was the vicarious thrill I got reading about all the debauchery and violence, but something compelled to read that book again and again. Many years later, Sonny Barger - former president of the Oakland Hellâ€™s Angels and godfather to outlaw bikers - published his autobiography. (Titled, of course, Hellâ€™s Angel) The same morbid curiosity that made Thompsonâ€™s book so fascinating to me compelled me to buy a copy. I guess the book sold pretty well; the movie rights have been sold and a screenplay is being developed. As John Kerry might have said, â€śWho among us doesnâ€™t have a twisted fascination with outlaw bikers?â€ť
The crime novelist James Elroy never minced words when discussing Hollywood producers who option his books. â€śIt will never get made, and if it does youâ€™re gonna f*** it up!â€ť The same can probably be said of Bargerâ€™s biography: if the movie is actually made weâ€™ll likely be treated to a made-for-cable travesty starring a bunch of former Dawsonâ€™s Creek cast members and crammed with product placements by everyone from Harley Davidson to The Gap. But, hey, we can still dream, right? Bargerâ€™s website actually has a message asking people to please stop e-mailing him suggestions for who should play him in the movie. I donâ€™t have any strong opinions about who should play Sonny, Terry the Tramp or Mouldy Marvin. However, Iâ€™ve got a few ideas about what kind of music ought to be in the soundtrack of a Hellâ€™s Angels movie.
Before I start talking about music, let me lay down a few ground rules. Rule Number One: no song which has been flogged to death by â€śclassic rockâ€ť radio is allowed. No Skynyrd, no ZZ Top. No â€śWhite Rabbitâ€ť when the Angels are turned on to LSD by Kesey and the Pranksters. And, for the love of God, nothing by George Thorogood! Rule Number Two: nothing from the Easy Rider soundtrack. I know that film featured some outstanding music, but why re-invent the wheel? And finally, Rule Number Three: this list is strictly a reflection of my personal musical tastes. Iâ€™m a huge fan of blues, funk and vintage soul. I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s the kind of music outlaw bikers listen to in real life, but thatâ€™s the kind of music my imaginary movie soundtrack will feature.