The Fully Authorized and Totally Undefinitive History of the
UGLY Motorcycle Club
Compiled by UGLY Joel
categorically refuses to accept any responsibility for Inaccuracies, Errors, Omissions, Circumvention, Slander, Libel or Force
All opinions are of the author – who refuses to accept responsibility for those either --
“If it wasn’t for Flashbacks I wouldn’t have any memory at all.”
Trying to reconstruct, or deconstruct, the History of UGLY is no simple task. The Club has been
around for over twenty (20) years, and the early members of the Club were a paranoid, edgy crew that rarely committed things
to paper. Was this fear of the RICO Act, or was it merely a fundamental lack of literacy? Who
knows? Regardless, it’s UGLY.
this problem is the fact that early UGLY brains tend to be well fried.
As one Brother succinctly stated, “If
it wasn’t for flashbacks I wouldn’t have any memory at all.”
Few could remember names or dates – and the ones that could never
agreed with each other. But as anyone who has attended a Mother Chapter meeting can attest – that’s
So what follows
is History by rumor and innuendo -- liberally mixed with myth, braggadocio and outright lies.
And if anyone tells
ya differently, it just ain’t true.
Here then is the straight UGLY Poop.
is only skin deep; but UGLY is to the bone.”
What is the UGLY mc?
- The UGLY Motorcycle Club is an international brotherhood dedicated to motorcycling, companionship, mutual support
and good times.
- The only territory we claim is the road beneath our wheels, and that changes every time we twist the throttle.
fly no patches, no rockers, and only occasionally wear the minimalist black & white UGLY Bones – usually when trying
to finagle our way into a rock concert.
- Though our Club Minutes refer to “business,” nobody pays much
attention to this. Our only “business” is fun, although we do support a number of charitable
We have brothers in
California, Alaska, Nevada, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Arkonsas, Montana, Illinois, Wisconsin, New
Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, France, Switzerland, Finland, Spain and Germany – along with a gaggle
of Nomads that might turn up anywhere, usually when it’s time for dinner.
Some of our brothers are famous. Some are less than famous. And some are simply
The UGLY shirt has been
proudly worn at major Hollywood events; on the stage of giant music venues; in the boardrooms of multi-national corporations;
on the floor of the US Senate; and in barrooms and brothels from Hamburg to Honolulu.
Beneath that swag is a seething Ugliness that unites what otherwise appears
to be a totally disparate amalgamation of riders.
“You UGLY guys ride fast!”
Unnamed Hell’s Angel – circa 1993
Genesis of UGLY
The UGLY Motorcycle Club began with
an unusual confluence of interests: motorcycles, music, and (surprise, surprise) charity!
In 1984 Oliver Shokouh, owner of
Harley Davidson of Glendale, organized and ran the first “Love Ride” – a single day motorcycle
charity event that was raising funds in support of Muscular Dystrophy. That initial Love Ride, though
small, was extremely successful. Oliver knew that part of the reason was the entertainment provided by
Robbie Krieger (guitarist from THE DOORS). Oliver began searching for other “name”
musical acts to help draw motorcyclists to future Love Rides.
Enter Bill Elkins. Bill, a long time motorcycle and hot rod enthusiast, owned
(and still owns) The Alley – a rehearsal hall in North Hollywood used by musicians who want to tune their acts before
commercial appearances. Bill would routinely call Oliver to borrow motorcycles for visiting artists.
This was a great situation for everyone. The musicians got a selection of sleek new Harleys to ride,
and Oliver got introduced to a bevy of bike riding rockers who might donate a performance to the Love Ride.
There was no club yet – not even
the idea of a club. There wasn’t even a constant group riding on any given day. This was just guys
with a shared connection of music and bikes having fun. Soon added to this crew was some of the “Sand
Gang,” a loose bunch that off-roaded the Pismo dunes with Bill. The numbers got bigger and
the rides became a regular event.
Some, but by no means all, of the people scooting along at different times were,
Hoyt Axton, Bob “Bobalu” Benevides, Niko Bolas, Wayne Brooks, Jim Coldwell, Peter Fonda, David Lindley, Donald
“Buddha” Miller, Dennis Scrimo, Joel Smith, Kelly Stewart and Rusty Tinsley. (And if I left your name
out please send complaints to UGLY Manny in Gruyeres, Switzerland). Mind you, there was no Club yet,
but all of these guys would eventually become UGLY.
By 1986 there was a distinct essence of UGLY cruising the boulevards
and freeways of Los Angeles. It only needed a catalyst to bring on the action. This
came when David Crosby was released from jail.
On his first day of freedom, Bill brought him to
Oliver’s shop and David bought a brand new bike. They all went riding. Bill remembers
David shouting as they cruised through Malibu Canyon, “I was in jail yesterday and now I’m riding a Harley!!”
Dates get tricky here,
but the best estimate is that it was shortly after Crosby’s release – sometime in the late spring of ’86
- that things coalesced. After a scoot through the canyons the gang stopped off at the Sagebrush
Cantina for a few beers. Bill Elkins went to the head, then came back and scrutinized the motley
crew sitting at the table. He prophetically declared, “You are the ugliest bunch of guys I’ve
ever ridden with. The name of this gang is UGLY.”
Bill challenged the UGLY bunch to “gang style” the freeway – two
per lane straight across. They blasted onto the 101 to find it totally empty – not a car in sight
for miles. This is a remarkable situation at anytime in Los Angeles. They wound it up
to 85mph – the motors merging into a “harmonic hum” – and faced a completely open road.
was like an omen.
The UGLYmc was born.
“Less is More.”
UGLY Willie G.
UGLYmc began as an unstructured consortium of riders -- and it is still pretty much an unstructured consortium
later years brought up all sorts of rancorous discussions (including shouting matches, pissing contests, shoving incidents,
fistfights, stabbings, shootings and a much publicized cane-whipping across the tarmac of H-D Glendale), the idea of having
a “Patch” or “Colors” was finally put to rest by, God help us, a vote.
OK, I’m exaggerating.
It wasn’t much of a vote. But a conscious decision was made to keep UGLY a “tee shirt”
club --- just enough of an identifier to allow the Brothers to scam their way into a concert en masse. (And,
I might mention, you can easily turn a tee shirt inside out and disappear into a crowd!)
As UGLY Willie G. put it –
“Less is More.”
This applies to our membership as well as our appearance.
The Black on Black Skull and Bones that many members have on their vests
is an understated proclamation. Those who need to understand do – and those who don’t really
don’t matter. The key point here is that despite the propensity for some Brothers to tattoo “UGLYmc”
on their size XXXL bodies, the UGLY began as much as a “goof” on motorcycle clubs as anything. It
started with only two rules:
Rule #1 – There are no rules.
Rule #2 – Revert to Rule #1.
There is something rather
appealing, and rather UGLY, about that simplicity.
UGLY also started with a perspective that still holds today:
Family, Work, Club
And oh yes, you may call us sexist or you may call us old fashioned gentlemen, but we firmly believe that:
“There are no UGLY Women.”
“The name of this gang is UGLY.”
UGLY Bill Elkins
The first step towards formalizing
the UGLY began again with Bill Elkins. Bill found a bunch of old metal fuses that he scribed “UGLY”
on and handed out to some of the guys. He called them UGLY Sticks. The concept behind
this was that recipients “were wired right” – connected, as it were. Given the
times, it might be more accurate to say these Uglies were simply “wired.” Bill claims there
were eighteen (18) of these sticks; though with his addled memory it might have been 8 or 81.
Regardless, the UGLY Sticks have gone
down in Club folklore. Other sticks were made up and distributed at other times; but in fact they are only
a footnote in club history. What is important is that “UGLY” stuck!
The true move toward MC-dom came from Buddha
and Bobalu. Just before Love Ride # 4 in 1987 they bought some cheap, grey, short sleeve golf shirts. (Golf
Shirts!!) They added a skull and crossbones image and “UGLYmc” written in
bones. Buddha and Bobalu started handing these out to the group that had been gradually evolving.
Riders showed up at the Love Ride wearing
the new UGLY shirts -- sticking out like sore thumbs, demanding backstage passes, and generally making a nuisance of themselves
– acting, well, UGLY.
of a sudden there was a club.
Bill Elkins appraised Buddha and said, “You look like presidential
The Uglies had their first officer.
And so it began.
“How do you say UGLY in Swiss?”
UGLY Doug Renneke
Bespeaking its musical origins, the first real meeting took place at the
old Palomino Club in North Hollywood. Others followed at the Alley and then moved to H-D of Glendale.
Today the So Cal meetings migrate to different locales. The last one was held at an abandoned nuclear
missile silo somewhere deep in the Angeles National Forest. Hmmm, are we getting paranoid and edgy
Bobalu, Rusty and Reagen
Jaramillo were responsible for the first real expansion of the club. They brought in a number
of long time riders, most of whom they had gone to school with. These old classmates formed the core of
what is now the Los Angeles or “Mother” Chapter – and they have been squabbling with each other ever since.
and Hollywood connection was strong in the early days with original Uglies Peter Fonda, David Lindley and Hoyt Axton.
Crosby then brought in Chris Hillman, Dallas Taylor and Jerry Garcia.
Buddha, who was touring with Jackson Brown, brought in a corps of roadies, including Jimmy
“JD” Deluca and “Diesel” Dick Sheehan, who extended our UGLY Tribe to the
with his Love Ride and Motor Company contacts, brought in Willie G. & Bill Davidson, Verne Holoubek, Vinnie Terranova,
Mike Lombardi and Tom Perkins. These guys started the Milwaukee and Colorado chapters.
Perkins, of course, has the oldest Harley dealership in the world, up in San Francisco, and Lombardi flies the H-D
and UGLY flag in the Big Apple, NYC.
from the start the Uglies have had an enthusiastic racing component. Bird Betts, Bob Moon, Rodeo
Ray Tewksbury, Parts Vancil and Bill Van Dyke are among the Brothers that race or have raced for
the club’s honor.
photographer Emmanuel Joffet, became UGLY while working in Los Angeles, and then began the European chapter
with a Continental spin on the “Less is More” philosophy. Our Euro Brothers are currently few
in number, but stand tall with UGLY Spirit.
“entertainment” connection to UGLY remains strong today with Larry Hagman, Dusty Hill
and Martin Jack Rosenblum added to the roster. Labor is well represented by Bob
Rizzi and Management was well repped by Capitalist Tool/UGLY Malcolm Forbes. Paul
Smith gives us a first rate artistic element, and there is a robust “motorcycle activism” corps spearheaded
by Brothers like Paul Lax, Leroy Dwight and US Senator Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell.
to what many outsiders believe, most Uglies are not luminaries or celebrities or activists or racers (except TT Racers, as
in Tavern to Tavern). We just ride bikes and have fun. But a real effort is made
to make sure only the truly UGLY are wearing our shirts.
We’ve lost some brothers over the years. Some went down.
Some have retired. Some have been exiled.
They are still UGLY.
The Love Ride, held each November, is now a
quarter of a century old. It is still THE UGLY event --- and still the best excuse all year for
Uglies to get together and party (not that much excuse is needed). In a good year virtually the entire
Club gathers in Los
Angeles for this great weekend of
is now an annual Swiss Love Ride as well, held each May, inspired by the California fund raiser.
This has become a mainstay for our European Brothers and it gets more and more UGLY every year.
The UGLYmc is now bigger and
stronger than ever. Despite the relatively small numbers on our roster, UGLYmc
is one of the most widely known motorcycle clubs in the world.
There seem to be some “rules” now, but no one pays much attention
matter. When you are “wired right” you don’t need too many rules.
There is a seething ugliness
that permeates the Brotherhood and indelibly links us together.
the late 90’s UGLY was incorporated in California.
This enabled us to have a bank
account, an insurance policy and some liability protection.
There is a Board of Directors,
but in true UGLY spirit, no one is quite sure who is on it.