THE BIRTH OF A LEGEND
(Excerpts from the article by Zed in Freeway No. 177)
“A story worthy of a novel. A black and sparkling novel as a studded leather passing in the night, almost a legend…
In Paris as in other capitals blows a mutiny wind in the twilight of the sixties. It expresses a deep desire for freedom, a desire of rebellion too long suppressed by the established order.
(…) On the west coast of the United States, some claim their own conception of freedom on two wheels. The young french men do not know much about it, they only heard about a few facts reported by the tabloid press, seen a picture or two of wild bikers riding on chopped bikes, and they heard about a name: Hells Angels! A quest towards an unknown ideal, in which several teams launched together, consisting of brave men, sometimes respected by the enemy, but whose history, written from the beginning of time by the victors, will retain only three names: the MC Crimée, Malakoff and Rue de Lappe. Names that terrorized suburban rockers to the depths of their cellars, or even the bouncers at the door of concert halls. What had they more than others? More determination? Solidarity, brotherhood in their every day life as much as in the height of the fighting? Maybe… But it is the actors of that time themselves that shed light on what really made the difference: “We had the spirit…“. The spirit? Hard to explain this little innate extra something that implies that one is born a Hells Angels rather that one becomes. Hard to understand this particular ethics, which comes with no initiation, no explanation.
It is with guys of this caliber that the MC Anges de Crimée was founded in 1967. A dozen of rockers, black jackets, young thugs, call them what you want, as the term “biker” didn’t exist yet in France. They were almost all from the nineteenth district of Paris. Their leader, Loulou, was an iconic leader who would become 14 years later the first president of the Hells Angels MC France. No club house at that time, just the streets and cafés of the neighborhood, a bench, the bench on the rue de Crimée, close to the rue de l’Ourcq. “(…) Our bikes were mainly English choppers, Harley were still rare and for rich guys… We did not understand what was happening in the USA. (…) But the little we saw and read seemed to suit us… Brotherhood, one for all and all for one, when you’re in the shit, everyone is there for you, it was already in our mind, it was like that that we worked, without reading about it, without having learned… We did not move much, did not mix with others, we mainly stayed in our neighborhood … and now and then a few fights… “. It is the latter that will strengthen the reputation of the club members, that were begin to be named, at the end of the decade, despite themselves, the “Hells of Crimée”.
On the other side of Paris, in the red suburbs, there lies Malakoff. Malak’, as they say. Where another crazy team had roughly the same destiny, at about the same time. From there will also come some famous future french Hells Angels. This was also a band of rockers, buddies linked since childhood. And among them was Fred: “It’s P’tit Pat that got us into the bikes in 69… He was already very fond of the USA, of Elvis and American cars, and riding a Hydra Glide… I had an old WLC… (…) We went to Harley rallies, but we quickly realized that this was not our thing. With our black leathers, us crazy rockers did not fit the image of HD, and it was not too well seen… So we got embroidery colors: MC Malak’… ”
Crimée and Malakoff, two motorized bands, one of a popular district of the capital, one of its suburbs, will cross on major boulevards to write a page of history… Both MCs met in 1971 near the Bastille, in an alley wedged between the rue de la Roquette and rue de Charonne. It is called the Rue de Lappe. This was certainly the first biker clubhouse of the capital or even in France (…). At the origin of this third motorcycle club, Olivier Mosset, aka Momosse, a young painter who left his native Switzerland 10 years before to experience the adventure in Paris. (…) In this unique place, these untamed youth learned about themselves and about each other, finding a common spirit among them. On the weekends, all these young riders would be found on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, just to change neighborhood and dredge the students who dreamed of slumming with these out of the ordinary bikers. The Mabillon café served as their place of rendezvous. (…) In 1973, the MCs of Crimée, Malak’ and Rue de Lappe gathered forty boys from very different backgrounds, and that gave, less than a decade later, the cream of the first French Hells Angels.”
Thus was the legend born, which materialized on April 18, 1981, when the Parisian prospects became full patch members after a meeting in Copenhagen, and so created the first chapter of the French Hells Angels. More than 35 years later, the club is still present in the streets of Paris…