In Otto's own words (instructions to be printed and handed out at his Memorial):
"Bye bye suckers, see you in Heaven"
Beloved brother, former Hells Angel, and member of our Santa Barbara Chapter of Black Sheep Harley-Davidsons for Christ.
Otto was born June 28, 1931 in Madison Wisconson, and passed away on March 17, 2008 in Santa Barbara, California.
From Santa Barbara News Press archives:
"I wouldn't trade my new life with the Lord for one day with the Hells Angels," said Mr. Friedli, who left the notorious Hells Angels gang after committing himself to Jesus Christ during a prison stay in the late 1960s.
Some accounts of the Hells Angels -- including a special on the History Channel -- credit Mr. Friedli with being the founder of the gang. While flattered, he says it's not true. He went to his first meeting at the invitation of a biker who was dating his old girlfriend.
Many believe the original Hells Angels started with an elite group of U.S. Army paratroopers who returned from World War II restless and looking for thrills. Some of them reportedly found freedom on the backs of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which were cheap back then.
Mr. Friedli said he was not a paratrooper in the Army but a mechanic, who was discharged after his commander found out he had a felony on his record. He didn't care. His brotherhood was with the Hells Angels.
Back then, the San Bernardino Hells Angels were "a bunch of guys who liked to have fun," he said.
"I got set up," the white-haired, affable Mr. Friedli said with a wink.
While in prison, Mr. Friedli says he was saved. Thinking back on all the times he should have died but didn't served as proof. There was the time he lost control of his hog coming down San Marcos Pass and was about to shoot right over the edge of a cliff when he inexplicably found himself spun around in the gravel instead.
There was the the time he was doing 120 mph on the freeway and crashed onto the asphalt after hitting another biker, and got up with just a broken leg and skinned hands.
Once, while driving a hot rod and chasing an enemy, he got shot at and the bullet should have plugged him right between the eyes. Only it ricocheted and missed; he never did figure out where that bullet went.
"I got to thinking, maybe there is a God," he said.
After his release from prison he found he no longer fit in with the Hells Angels.
Two years ago, Mr. Friedli rode to Maine and back with the Black Sheep. They make shorter trips on a regular basis, serving as witnesses for Christ on rides with the Harley-Davidson owners group known as the Hogs.
Mr. Friedli says his faith helped supply him with the Harley that he's riding now.
"I took a picture of it and put it on my fridge and thanked God for it every day," he said.
Otto Friedli, 72, dispenses love at a Bible study at the Harley-Davidson dealership in Carpinteria. A former Hells Angel, Mr. Friedli is now affiliated with the Black Sheep, an evangelical motorcycle club.
Mr. Friedli on his pride and joy -- a 2000 Harley-Davidson Deuce.
Otto Friedli studies the Bible with his wife Carol, who is following Mr. Friedli's method in praying for a PT Cruiser.
A close examination of Mr. Friedli's patch indicates that his motorcycle club is a little bit different.
Excerpt from an article: Hells Angels
Two of the first such fraternities were the Pissed Off Bastards and the Booze Fighters, groups that established early the notoriety of the outlaw biker image. In 1947, at an American Motorcycle Association convention in the drowsy town of Hollister, Calif., the Pissed Off Bastards rode in drunk, wild and destructive, landing as if behind enemy lines with a belly full of TNT. The local sheriff later described the scene as "just one hell of a mess."
Quick to control the public relations' damage, the AMA denounced the Bastards, saying it was unfortunate that 1 percent of motorcyclists should ruin it for the law-abiding 99 percent. To this day, the 1 percent insignia remains a badge of honor, worn with pride by those who define themselves as not part of that milquetoast 99 percent majority who ride whining Hondas back and forth to the office.
But in the months following Hollister, internal tension among the Bastards and Booze Fighters was mounting, and in 1948 Bastard Otto Friedli broke from the club, splintering the group to create the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Fontana, Calif.
Through the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Hells Angels continued to ride with the other 99 percent, but already their reputation roared out in front.
That reputation crashed into the public consciousness in 1954 when Marlon Brando starred in "The Wild One," a Hollywood sensation inspired by the rumble at Hollister.
That same year, the original Hells Angels chapter merged with San Francisco's Market Street Commandos to spawn the club's second chapter, whose president crafted the intimidating winged death's head that remains the Hells Angels calling card to this day.
"Among the clubs in Hollister in ’47 were the Top Hatters (still alive and thriving to this day) and the POBOBs (“Pissed Off Bastards Of Bloomington”). One member of the POBOBs was Otto Friedli. Friedli would go on to be one of the founding members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club."
Otto, you will be missed. Thanks for the inspiration.