Female members of the Hells Angels in Los Angeles_ USA in 1973. My Colorful Past / mediadrumworld.com

By Mark McConville

STRIKING images of notorious motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels, have been brought back to life after being expertly colourised.

The stunning shots show Hells Angels members relaxing in a cafe, female members astride their Harley-Davidson motorcycles and loitering outside the Blackboard Cafe in Bakersfield.

Other incredible photographs show women waiting while a club meeting for the Hells Angels takes place in the next room and women riders selecting which music to put on at a juke box.

Hells Angels at San Bernardino in 1965. My Colorful Past / mediadrumworld.com


The original pictures were taken in the 1960s and 1970s at the height of the Hells Angels counterculture popularity and were painstakingly colourised by Matt Loughrey (39) of My Colorful Past, based in Westport, Ireland.

“These were photographs taken in the mid 1960s and early 1970s, the majority by LIFE magazine photographer Bill Ray,” he said.

“What I found hard to understand was why the original black and whites never made it to the magazine itself. It raises questions; both editorial and political combined.

“These photographs document only a fragment of time, but for the people in the photographs it’s a time they’ll never have forgotten.

San Bernadino Hells Angels on a run in 1965. My Colorful Past / mediadrumworld.com


“It’s quite simply eye opening to look back on the advent of such a strong fraternity of people.”

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The organization is predominantly white male and considered an organized crime syndicate by the United States Department of Justice.

The club became prominent within, and established its notoriety as part of the 1960s counterculture movement in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene, playing a part at many of the movement’s seminal events.

Outside the Blackboard Café in Bakersfield 1965. My Colorful Past / mediadrumworld.com

Members were directly connected to many of the counterculture’s primary leaders, such as Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Timothy Leary, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Mick Farren and Tom Wolfe. The club launched the career of “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Matt explained how he colourises the original black and white images to produce the final product.

“I use what is essentially a digital pen and paper in the form of a dedicated tablet and stylus and employed a completely new process named SMTM for creating colour textures,” he added.

Hells Angels NYC date unknown. My Colorful Past / mediadrumworld.com

“I use WACOM’s Mobile Studio Pro and have used their products for the last three years. Their technology lends very well to this project overall.

“This was a straight forward conversion because the original photographs were very well lit and taken.”

For more of Matt’s work visit instagram.com/my_colorful_past.

Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book, Retrographic focussed on the colourisation of historical images.

For more information visit: www.facebook.com/retrographicbook