Saturday, December 3, 2011

They call it FRISCO.....Chocolate George's funeral.

The famous Chocolate George's Funeral poster, and some on the events that occurred that produced this photograph.

UPI/29 Aug 1967 San Francisco, California, USA... San Francisco Hells Angels-style funeral cortege dots a hilly street as upwards of 200 cyclists roared to the funeral party of one of their members - "Chocolate George". His real name was Charles G. Henricks (sic), a 34 year old Angel who was killed in an accident in San Francisco's Hippie Haight-Ashbury district. It was the kind of last run Chocolate George would have dug the most. The cycle parade into Golden Gate Park..beer and wine..women..and rock music. After all the din and dancing it was, perhaps, apropos that one of the music groups attending the send-off was the Grateful Dead...Image by Bob Campbell

The photograph of Chocolate George's funeral, that became an iconic (and much sought after today - an original 24" x 48" will run you at least $400.00) poster was taken by Bob Campbell, and it ran on pg. 4 of the SF Chronicle with an article on the funeral entitled The Gang Gathers. The photograph hit the wire services, and it was in most of the major papers across the country the next day. Why? Well, because the Angels, hippies, and Frisco were news, and not many people had seen a sight like this in their lives. The original poster was printed by The Print Mint, in SF.

On the afternoon of Aug. 24th, 1967 Chocolate George was riding down Haight St., and went to make a turn right by the Straight Theatre. He hooked the front wheel of his bike on the bumper of the car in front of him (I've heard said it was a '55 Chevy), which caused George to be thrown from his bike onto Haight St. , suffering a serious head injury. George was taken to the hospital, where he died that evening.

George's funeral was held on the next Monday morning, the 28th. The funeral procession actually wound its way down Haight St, past the site of George's accident, with the procession gunning their engines as they passed the Straight Theatre, in a last salute to George. The funeral procession then headed to Cypress Lawn Cemetery, where George was cremated, and his ashes later scattered over Twin Peaks - the 2nd highest peaks in SF, located almost in the geographic center of the city, offering almost a 360 degree view of SF.

After the funeral, everybody went to Golden Gate Park for George's wake, or Wail! as it was called on the posters announcing it. Almost all of the Haight community turned out, because George was a much loved fixture in The Haight. Several of the SF bands played that day, most notably Big Brother, and the Grateful Dead. The Angels supplied the beer, and the Diggers supplied the food. It was a good send-off, indeed.

Here's something for you about what you see in the photograph/poster. Obviously, you see the hearse carrying George's body, with the family car right behind it. Next, behind the family car, riding 3 abreast, is the Frisco Chapter (I noted Pete Knell as #1. in the photo). Riding directly behind the family car is Hairy Henry Kot (#2), next to him (#3) is an unidentified rider - some have told me it's Sonny Barger, but I don't think so. That guy is flying some pretty tall apes. And, to the far right (#4) is Doug Sessions, Chocolate George's younger brother.

And, last but definitely not least.....here's some super-rare 8mm footage below these last two paragraphs, of Chocolate George's funeral, including a brief interview with Hairy Henry, and the Grateful Dead playing at George's Wail! in Golden Gate Park afterwards. If you look, you'll see Galloping Gooses, Satans Slaves, Straight Satans, and a few other clubs that came that day to pay their respects to Chocolate George, and his Club. Don't ask how I run across this stuff!

You know what's always bugged me about the original poster (which I had by the way, but disappeared on one of my moves, along with the first 3 issues of Easyriders, but I replaced those, never the poster)???? I still can't figure out why the Print Mint found it necessary to print the poster with the family's funeral car colored in bright florescent pink, when the rest of the poster is in B&W, save for the words at the top Chocolate George's Funeral, which are in brown and gold. I've never been able to find out if or what that meant. Anybody know?


5 comments:

Vilmino said...

cool footage! thanks Rich...

Rigid Hips Stockholm said...

Great post.

Unknown said...

Great footage

BlueDreams said...

Chocolate George was my Dad...have a few of the posters.
We never knew what the pink was about either.

Irish Rich said...

BlueDreams, is this Beth, by any chance?

If so, please feel free to Email me:
irishrich@shamrockfabrication.com