in the beginning...
As with other cities of the swinging sixties, Glasgow had it's share of newly opened clubs and coffee bars. In the Hillhead area of Glasgow and its Kings Road, Byres Road which was the happening scene of the era, there was a particular coffee bar and an offshoot, Ashton Rd. called The Papingo which had over its door arch, "Coffee and Jazz". One of the Papingo's many attractions was its late hours which appealed to the beatniks, artists and rockers who populated the Hillhead districts. Within the rocker element a group of like minded guys got together and decided that a change of image from the Brandon boys of the rockers was called for. Over many cups of coffee, cokes and the new joints of marijuana the new ideas were discussed, it was decided that a uniform of blue denim wrangler suits would be their attire and their motorbikes would be stripped down Triumph/Norton’s (Tritons) without lights, and painted sky blue to blend with their uniforms. Only a name was required, they all agreed on a name, "THE BLUE ANGELS", for various reasons. Alan Morrison and Lenny Reynolds, because blue was Scotland's national colour and Tommy Howells, who had worked out the letters of BLUE stood for Bastards, Lunatics, Undesirables and Eccentrics, of which he said just about summed them up.
Over a period of time the image attracted others who liked the Sunday runs that the Blue Angels organised, to race on the hill roads around Glasgow, and every so often trips into the western highlands which were quite near the city. It was also about this time that the mod gang culture was starting to take off and gangs like the Maryhill Fleet, the Calton Tongs, the Townhead Shamrock, the Gorbals Cumbie, the Govan Team, the Drumchapel Buck, the Pollock Bundie and the Patrick Cross Boys were starting to carve out their territory ... literally, while other gangs and sub-gangs would proliferate, the big boys would go on to organise protection rackets, shebeens (illegal drinking dens) and even prostitution. The phenomenon had always existed in Glasgow, but this time the gangs did not spawn from poverty but the pull of getting a share of the large amounts of money which were floating about in Glasgow. The different cultures would soon clash and while the top of Byres Road was accepted Fleet turf and the bottom was indeed Patrick Cross turf, the middle was accepted as neutral and the styles and fashions on the whole mixed in harmony.
However, one night the Blue Angels were drinking in the "Curlers Tavern" which was exactly in the middle of Byres Road and was one of the first places for the drug culture to blossom which made for good nights, great parties and was the place to be when a crowd of 'suits' came in, and as the time went on dirty looks started and the insults followed. Soon a bar brawl of John Wayne proportions started which spilled out into the street. The 'suits' ran in, slashing with their razors and the Blue Angels retaliated with flick knives, switch blades and tyre levers. There was brawling and shouting, some guys were slashed and stabbed and several guys collapsed with weapon wounds. Soon the police arrived in droves and waded into all and sundry making no distinctions, some were captured and some got away.
Many of the Blue Angels were incensed by this and what was to become a pillar of policy, "Retaliation, out of proportion" followed in the weeks to come with cafes and bars petrol bombed and sneak attacks done in the night by both sides. Soon though, wiser heads decided that guys getting injured and imprisoned was not conducive to a good lifestyle, and eventually talks took place to put an end to the strife. By the end of the night drinks were exchanged and many of the 'suits' were introduced to the joys of shit (cannabis resin), promises were made to help fix cars and scooters, and although individual fights would break out over the period, the two gangs held each other in mutual respect and never carried out hostilities against each other again.
The Blue Angels became Glasgow’s premier because of the reputation they had built in the war with the Maryhill Fleet and whilst some like Lenny Reynolds were slashed and stabbed in a very short period, this did not detract from the style of the bikes, the image and the penchant for violence which saw the Garthamlock Blackhawk’s join with the Blue Angels and later some of the Roadburners. After a battle in an Asian Restaurant the nickname "The Blue Gang" became prevalent and the walls of Glasgow and it’s outskirt towns began to see alongside local gang grafitti, slogans such as Blue Angels OK, Blue Angels, Best in the west, these slogans started to appear on the hill roads, on mountain passes and as the Blue Gang travelled the slogans appeared in places like the Ace Café, the Busy Bee, various truck stops and transport cafes and further a field like the Eiffel Tower and the Necropolis in Athens.
The American magazine 'Saturday Evening Post' arrived in the mid sixties with an article on California’s Hell’s Angels, the sleeves were cut off the wranglers and a new style of bike appeared after the Blue Gang viewed Peter Fonda and Bruce Dern in "The Wild Angels”, the chopper! Custom bikes became the thing, but most of all, our Insignia (Colours), adapted from the Americans were designed. But rather than adopt the American concept in full which had the club name at the top, insignia in the middle and place name at the bottom, the Blue Angels, being conscious that the terrain they moved in was much smaller than California, and that their membership did not come from one area, plus the pride of the founder members in their gang background dispensed with the place name and instead had the word Blue at the top in a mixture of gothic and Celtic lettering, in the middle a skull copied from the Waffen SS with a German helmet from the despatch riders of the same formation, on each side of this yellow wings spread in homage of the symbol of angels the powerful wings of flight symbolising freedom and at the bottom the word Angels. This design was unique then and even today there are not many similar designs throughout the biking world. Such is the pride of the insignia that the Blue Angels copywrited these colours in 1997.
The reputation and the history of the Blue Angels has spread from Frisco Bay to Sydney Harbour, 28 men have died for and because of the lifestyle including one on a life sentence. Names of the legends are spoke with reverence, Billy Rolling Stone, Sammy the Fox, Shannie, Nasty Bob, Mad Fitsy, Big John Herne, Danny The Fish, Scoobie, Chaza, Bunker Tha Coalman, Bugsy. The talk of the dead and what they have done creates today’s pride, brotherhood and loyalty and the men today know what is expected of them. The Blue Angels are the oldest outlaw bike gang in Europe, established in 1963 and even stronger today.
Coming from Glasgow, most of our runs were to England where it was warmer. We met bikers from England and they became the Sheffield and Leeds chapters. We started a chapter in London with Igor and friends but we didn’t give it enough support and they broke up. We also made friends with the Road Rats London who were tuned into our wavelength. The travelling would go on, time would go on, some died, but fresh blood would replace them, more wars came, biker wars this time, as savage as biker wars are, but yesterdays enemies are today’s friends and yesterdays foes look down their noses at the new kids on the block who don’t have the wounds and scar tissue or the traditions of the old combatants.