George Christie was a leader in the Hells Angels, the world’s most notorious outlaw motorcycle club. After seeing how the biker world changed and grew more violent, he decided to get out and start a new life and career in the spotlight. “When you run out of people to fight, you turn on each other,” he tells Gangsters Inc.
Born to be wild
Born in 1947 in Ventura, California, Christie grew up as an only child in a family of Greek immigrants. Though his parents disapproved, he was fascinated by the world of motorcycles and outlaw bikers. In 1966, he bought his first bike: a 1957 Panhead. Soon after, he rode into the scene and eventually joined the Hells Angels.
“I walked into that world in 1966 and it was a completely different world back then,” Christie tells us. “It was all about bikes and riding. About the brotherhood. Back then you couldn’t go into a Harley shop and buy a custom motorcycle. You had to buy a regular Harley Davidson and strip it down and make your own custom parts. You couldn’t even buy custom parts. There were no shops around. So if you weren’t a motorcycle builder or enthusiast you really weren’t accepted into the culture. I mean you had to build your own motorcycle. It was an extension of yourself. You could absolutely be identified which geographical area you were from by what your motorcycle looked like.”
Fully immersed and accepted into the biker culture, Christie became a full-patch member of the Los Angeles charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in 1976. Founded on March 16, 1948, the Hells Angels quickly established themselves as the premier outlaw motorcycle club in the United States and later the entire world.
“It’s like having a Superman cape on,” Christie says about being a member of the Hells Angels. “There was nobody that questioned our authority or position as the number one outlaw biker club in the world. We were elite, acted like it, and were being treated as such.”
Christie was friends with a bunch of big movie and music stars, he tells us. “Anywhere we went we got juiced in. We never paid for anything. Went to the front of the lines. Sat at private tables. At Grateful Dead concerts I’d get on the stage between the two drummers – We became very good friends. Jerry Garcia [the group’s lead guitarist] and I became exceptionally good friends. I would pick him up at the airport when he flew into Southern California. So being a Hells Angel opened a lot of doors for me.”
Back in those days, it was all about the parties. Going on long rides, drinking booze, taking drugs, and having sex while listening to good music. “Very much so,” Christie says with a smile as he remembers a funny story from back in the day.
“One of the best LSD cooks in the world, we called him The Bear, used to make liquid LSD for us. He would give us big bottles of the stuff. One time, we were partying and we, a half dozen Hells Angels, knocked over this bottle with liquid LSD. We didn’t want to lose it, so we took a roll of toilet paper and started rolling it over this big puddle of liquid LSD on the table. The drug saturated into this roll of toilet paper and then we let it dry. Later, we were breaking off bits of the toilet paper and digesting it and partying.”
The bikers had a blast but decided they could always up the ante. Christie: “One night we were sitting in the clubhouse about to have a party when one of us, I don’t remember who, it could’ve been me, I think maybe it was David Ortega, had the idea to put the toilet paper roll with LSD on it in the bathroom on the actual toilet paper hanger. Everyone who went to the bathroom, especially the girls, anybody that wiped their nose or private parts or handled that toilet paper got high as a kite,” Christie says with a big laugh. “The whole clubhouse was in chaos. Cause everybody was loaded. Anyone who touched that paper in any way, blowing their nose, taking coke and using the paper to clean their nose. It was like a fun zone at a carnival.”
Six months after becoming an official member, Christie became president of the Los Angeles charter. He then went on to start up the Ventura charter in 1978, which he continued running as its president in the four decades to come. He also began playing a more prominent role in the national organization of the club after its leader Sonny Barger became ill and decided to take a step back.
With his rising profile came a lot more headaches. “It cuts both ways,” Christie admits. “It also put me under a lot of scrutiny. As a leader there were all these questions. I got subpoenaed to several grand juries. Like when they were investigating the Teamster’s union. They wanted to know what my connection was. They wanted to know whether we were taking Teamster money.”
The Hells Angels didn’t, Christie says, but once they reached a certain level of notoriety, law enforcement placed the club squarely in its crosshairs. In 1979 the Angels faced their first RICO trial. 18 bikers faced racketeering and murder charges while the government tried to portray the club as a criminal organization. The case ended in a mistrial, but the government wasn’t done yet.
A young up and coming prosecutor by the name of Robert Mueller took over as lead prosecutor and this time put 11 bikers on trial for racketeering. “He didn’t get a conviction,” Christie says, “but we didn’t get a not guilty either. Another hung jury. After that they decided not to try the club again but instead to come after us as individuals and they did get some convictions. That reinforces my position that we are not a criminal organization. We were an organization with criminals in it.”
In the decades to come, Christie had several more brushes with the law. In the late 1980s he was tried for a murder that never happened and spent a year in federal prison before he was found not guilty and cleared of all charges. In 2001, he was hit with a 59-count indictment and spent a year in solitary confinement before that case, too, collapsed.
Christie is amazed how law enforcement agencies come up with some of these charges, he tells Gangsters Inc. “They make these quantum leaps,” he says. “My dad, who is also named George Christie, used to go to Las Vegas every month and authorities thought it was me. Also, at one point we used the same attorney as the one used by several defendants in the Stardust casino skimming case involving the Mafia. So, they thought we were getting a piece of the skim as well. It was unbelievable how they went from one point to the next.”
By 2011, Christie had enough of the life of an outlaw biker. He resigned as president and left the Hells Angels motorcycle club for good. He did so at an official club meeting. “I told them we’re fighting wars on all fronts and were running out of people to fight. When you run out of people to fight, you turn on each other. I gave you decades as a leader, but now I’m walking away.”
His brothers were fine with it, at first, but then all of a sudden his status changed. Instead of leaving the club in good standing, he was thrown out in bad standing, which basically meant he was being subjected to a death sentence.
“People said I left because I was a coward, an informant, I got soft, I got old,” Christie surmises. “Whatever. That’s not the reason. I never became an informant, never talked to the cops. Never testified against anybody, never sent anybody to jail on what I said. I left because the outlaw world that I walked into no longer existed. I wanted to remember it as it was and not go out in a group of people that were perpetuating violence against people who had the same beliefs and lifestyle as they had. It just didn’t interest me anymore.”
Christie thinks the disparaging rumors about him were started by Sonny Barger, who was unhappy that he had taken on such a leading role in the club. “Sonny relinquished all the power when he became sick and then found out he wasn’t gonna die and wanted that power back. He’ll deny it, but it’s true. Sonny came up with this idea to disparage my tenure as a leader and as a Hells Angel.”
After leaving the club, the feds crashed down on Christie and indicted him for a 2006 conspiracy to firebomb two Ventura tattoo shops. He pleaded guilty and addressed the court, explaining that he had not directed anyone to burn the two shops but would accept responsibility for poor leadership. He was released from prison in August of 2014.
Once out, he was confronted with the fact that the club was badmouthing him. To fight back, he decided to seek out the spotlight of the media. “Rather than just let them say these things and that be the only record of it, I decided to do the Outlaw Chronicles on the History Channel. I wrote my books,” Christie says combatively.
Recently, he has taken his story on a tour through the country as he performs on stage in his show titled Outlaw. “It’s different,” he says about doing a stage show. “I kinda feel like I’m in the action again. I’m up there telling the story of my life and it’s not like doing a television show like the Outlaw Chronicles. You can’t cut a scene and retake it. It’s live on stage. All by myself. I’m having a blast. I did a show last night and it’s been well received. People are interested in what I have to say. It’s another adventure in my life.”
The show also helps him come to terms with his own actions during his life as an outlaw. “It’s very cathartic. I talk about my childhood and for the first time understood why I made certain decisions. As I presented it to the audience I came to realize it myself,” the former Hells Angel says.
Christie: “I even had an Outlaw [member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club], who the Hells Angels have been at war with since decades, come up to me in Las Vegas. We talked about the old times. About ‘Taco’ Bowman. He was retired now and wanted to reminisce. He loved the show and we took some pictures. He bought my book and I signed it for him.”
Performing for sold out crowds at theatres around the country, Christie says he’s happy with where he’s at in life. “I have no regrets,” he says. “I certainly don’t miss going to the post office box and having a big brown envelope that says US Department of Justice with a notification in there that says your voice has been intercepted in a phone conversation.”
Such a notification would set off an information hunt by Christie and his defense. “I’d have my lawyers, later my daughter became my lawyer, and she would write these people and all you’d get is the run around. Why was I tapped? ‘Well, we can’t tell you because it’s still proceeding forward’ or ‘It’s sealed.’ So you got all these various federal agencies and sometimes what happens is the local agencies would piggy back off of that. Like the sheriff, or local police department. So you wouldn’t know who was listening or for what. So I started assuming everything I said at some point in time would be played in a courtroom. I became very careful what I said and who I spoke to.”
Clearly, he’s glad those days are behind him. With regards to him leaving the Hells Angels in bad standing, he isn’t too worried about that. “When your ticket’s punched, it’s punched. You’re not gonna change it. That’s just the way it is. I’ve lived this long for a purpose. Once I serve that purpose then maybe they’ll call my number. I follow the light and the truth. That’s where I’m headed.”
Outlaw runs August 2 through August 24 at the Whitefire Theatre located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, CA with performances on Thursdays and Sundays and later in the run on Fridays at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for all performances. For reservations, call (213) 713-9149 or go to www.Clagoproductions.com and for more information visit www.GeorgeChristieOutlaw.com. Visit George Christie on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/GeorgetheOutlaw or follow him on twitter: @georgeFPC and instagram: @outlawtheshow.
Get the latest on organized crime and the Mafia at Gangsters Inc.'s news section.
Copyright © Gangsters Inc.