Top Hatters


There must be something in the water, or more likely, the beer in Hollister, California. In motorcycle club culture, Hollister is the birthplace of the American biker. The small town in San Benito county has given birth to some of the most famous and infamous biker clubs in America.

The Boozefighters made history there as did the Yellow-Jackets, the Bravo brothers and the Jackpine Gypsies. I think I know what bikers loved about Hollister–its physical beauty. The hills, mountains, lakes and all of that glorious road. . .it wasn’t far from wine country, or the terra firma of John Steinbeck and Cannery Row. Hollister was firmly ensconced in the landscape of the American dream that they’d been told so much about; a place so idyllic, as to be preserved in the reliquary of the post-war mind.

The Bravo brothers, Jess and Joe, founded the Top-Hatters. Though they never sported the “One Percenter” patch, they were their own guys who didn’t fit into the world in a conventional way. Like the outlaw clubs, there was a wide nonconformist stripe in the Tophatters. They were founded in 1947 and are considered one of the pioneer clubs who, again, were largely comprised of WWII combat veterans. To this day, the Tophatters do a lot of charity work with veterans, and are resolutely patriotic. Mostly, they like riding their bikes with their brothers and being left the fuck alone.

Published in: on January 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. I have no idea if this will reach YOU, Tony Fitzpatrick….but, I was wondering if you ever open your studio up to visitors? I teach art in mid-Missouri and a student of mine discovered your work, and has painted a tribute to you and your art on a ceiling tile for our classroom. I bring students to Chicago each May to experience a little of the “big city” and we would love to meet you! This is a group of just 12 students that are my “art groupies” and members of the world-renowned National Art Honor Society. Are you too much of a mega-art-star to meet some lowly but adoring fans???? Pretty please? Amy

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