The show takes took its cues from Hells Angels and even had many Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members as part of its cast.
Sons of Anarchy was a highly publicized and popular crime-tragedy-drama show that aired on FX from 2008 to 2014, centering on a fictitious motorcycle club. The outlaw MC was called SAMCRO, as in Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original. The show takes took its cues from Hells Angels and even had many Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members as part of its cast.
Take for instance David Labrava, who plays the recurring character of Happy Newman in the show. Happy Newman is SAMCRO’s enforcer, read assassin, and commits murders with real joy. After every murder, he gets a smiley tattooed on his body. In reality, David Labrava is an ex-HAMC member and leads a rather quiet life. But there’s another HAMC member in the cast whose real-life story is just about as colorful as the character he plays.
Meet Rusty Coones, HAMC Chapter President
Born Howard Irvine Coones but known to all as ‘Rusty’, this HAMC member stands 6 foot 5 inches tall and is as imposing in real life as he looks on screen. His real-life story is a little more colorful than his reel-life character, but more on that later.
His involvement in the show came when Charlie Hunnam, the star of SoA visited his motorcycle shop, Illusion, to buy a couple of extras motorcycles for the show, which were later auctioned off for charity. However, it is believed that Coones met Sutter earlier, on a Hells Angels MC toy run in the San Fernando Valley.
Later Kurt Sutter, the creator of the show got in touch with Coones, not only having Coones customize a motorcycle for him but also bringing him on the show as a member of the cast and technical advisor.
In SAMCRO, He’s Rane Quinn
In Sons of Anarchy, Rane Quinn comes on as the President of the Nomads chapter and he is the one to bring on “Happy Lowman” aka David Labrava to the Sons of Anarchy MC. Happy later leaves the Nomads chapter in season 3 and joins SAMCRO instead as their enforcer.
In season 5, the Nomads chapter disbands and Quinn joins the Sons of Anarchy Indian Hills Chapter, leaving that to join SAMCRO in season 6.
He is a violent man on the show, committing a total of three murders, all enemies of SAMCRO: killing a member of the True IRA, an East Dub member as well as a member of the Lin Triad.
The Real-Life Story Of Rusty Coones
Rusty Coones wasn’t just a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club but was the President of two HAMC chapters: first San Fernando Valley and then the Orange County chapter, a chapter he founded. So he is almost HAMC royalty.
His real-life story comes with lots of drama and tragedy as well. In the 1980s, his heroin-addicted brother OD’ed, and in response, he opened a rehabilitation center in California. He later closed the same in 1995 because of a change of government subsidies that cut down in profits and made the running impossible. In the late ’80s, he also met his wife, Katherine Coones, and went on to have a son and daughter with her. This petite blond has stuck with Rusty Coones through thick and thin.
Much like a true HAMC member, Coones himself has been to prison twice. The first time he went into for drugs. In 1999, he bought Illusion Motorsports and was trying to make something out of it by customizing motorcycles, only to go back to prison on drug conspiracy charges, distributing a chemical used to make crystal meth.
This time, he went in for six years, and his wife Katherine, kept Illusion Motorsports running for Rusty to have something to do when he got back. When he did get back, the economy was failing and Illusion wasn’t doing all that well.
That’s when Coones met Charlie Hunnam and Kurt Sutter, and the rest is all history.
Coones Feels SOA Was A Godsend
Rusty Coones has been a HAMC member and been to prison twice on some serious charges, not the kind of stuff that would endear this bear of a man to anyone.
Only, after being on Sons of Anarchy, and being watched by some 5 million people, he has become a celebrity of sorts in his town, enough to give his business a breath of fresh air. Sutter was so impressed with him that he even featured three songs from Coones’ rock-metal band Attika 7 in the show. Being a TV MC member rather than a real one has done Coones a lot more good.
If you want to see more of Rusty Coones, he also starred in another TV series, Orange County Choppers: American Made as well as in the SoA spinoff Mayan’s M.C.